Meditation is a form of mindfulness in which you learn to observe your thoughts and feelings non-judgmentally and with acceptance. It’s not just another emerging trend; it’s a very old practice that has been proven to improve well-being. Here are six excellent reasons to meditate:
1. Meditation helps you feel less stressed.
According to the Mayo Clinic, there is plenty of evidence suggesting that meditation reduces stress levels. Meditation actually changes your brain by helping you to live in the moment, reducing negative thought processes or emotions and giving you an enhanced perspective on life. As a bonus, when you feel less stressed you’re less likely to have mental or physical health problems.
2. Meditation helps you have more realistic expectations.
Why is this a good thing? Because much of our emotional suffering comes from unrealistic expectations. Life is better if you take the good with the bad.
If you get a new puppy and expect every second to be full of Christmas and unicorns, you won’t appreciate the fact that rewarding times come with tough stuff.
If you work toward accepting reality, you’ll be surprised and delighted by life because you are less attached to outcomes. Life is unpredictable, and that's OK! You might even learn to see the beauty of difficult circumstances.
3. Meditation helps you prioritize, then act accordingly.
Using meditation to help you accept things as they are does not mean that you should stop working toward life goals. Instead, it means you are able to pick your battles.
Learning to accept things as they are makes it easier to define what is important to you in life. Struggling to swim against the current all the time is exhausting and ineffective. Once you stop, the noise in your mind begins to lessen, and things become clearer. Meditation can help you choose priorities and then give them energy.
Ironically, once you let go of control, then you get better at facing whatever life has in store for you with confidence.
4. Meditation gives you confidence.
Getting better at accepting things as they come gives you more confidence to deal with the uncertainties of life. Studies show that people who approach life with confidence and positivity are more effective at taking life as it comes, facing challenges with grace, acceptance, and energy.
5. Meditation gives you a new perspective.
Jogging hurts. There's no two ways about it. But seasoned runners will tell you that eventually your brain will stop resisting the pain and just accept it as part of the exercise. Your body still feels the pain, but the suffering is reduced, making you simultaneously detached and hyper present in the moment.
Just like jogging, when you let go of the grip that emotions and thoughts have on your perspective, you can see the world in a new way.
6. Meditation makes you that contagiously chill person.
Don't you want to be someone who makes everyone around them feel calm and accepted? When it comes right down to it, kindness is the most important thing in the universe. Meditation and mindfulness is about finding compassion for yourself and others. That type of attitude can be contagiously inspiring.
So how do you meditate?
There are endless books written on the subject, instructions on the internet, and classes. On the University of Winnipeg campus there are free drop in sessions for mindfulness and meditation each Monday and Thursday in Bryce Hall Chapel.
Meditation is becoming more mainstream for a reason: in exchange for 10 to 20 minutes of practice per day, it slowly turns you into happier, healthier, chilled out, spoon bending ninja.
Carol is a new graduate of the public relations, marketing and communications program at the U of W. She started meditating about six months ago.
Published in Volume 70, Number 20 of The Uniter (February 18, 2016)