Looking for a way to reduce stress, improve sleep, and just be happier? The key is simpler than you may think.
If there’s something we can all agree on, it’s that life is incredibly busy. Unless you’re a hermit in the wilderness (and, if you are, you’re probably not reading this), you’re inundated with daily tasks that not only take up all of your time, but also all of your brain space. Our attention is pulled in a million different directions at any given moment.
We’ve all heard the stats. In 2022, people spent an average of 6 hours and 58 minutes in front of a screen per day. We also take in between 4,000 and 10,000 ads per day, each of which requires us to consider them, whether we consciously realize it or not. Let’s call a spade a spade — even we are asking for five minutes of your time and attention to read this article!
But, don’t worry, we’re hoping this five minutes will actually be helpful. That’s because we’re talking about the antidote: meditation. Yep, you read right. The key to solving all of our busyness and inattention can be found without any special tricks, products, or gimmicks, just good, old-fashioned meditation. All you need is a few minutes to yourself, a willingness to be still, and maybe a little padding to sit on.
What is Meditation?
Meditation is a spiritual practice in many cultures. But, we’re not tackling the spiritual side of meditation today because we’re not only unqualified to do so, but we’re also focusing on the practical, daily benefits of meditation. So, let’s start with what it is. Simply put, meditation is the act of being in the moment. That’s it. You’re not thinking about your kids’ C-minus in chemistry or whether or not your dog has fleas. You’re only focused on sitting and paying attention to what’s actually going on in and around your body for a few moments.
So, what does that look like practically? Well, not much. Sit down and be still for a while and you’re well on your way to meditating. Of course, it’s more involved than just that, so let’s dive in a little bit deeper.
How to Meditate
There are a ton of resources out there for how to meditate and it looks different for everyone. Headspace is a great app for diving in as well, with guided meditation exercises. But, we’ll offer a few basics.
First things first, you need to create a distraction-free space. This can be anywhere free from noise and people, like your bedroom, living room, backyard, a mountaintop. It can literally be anywhere.
Second, set aside some time. If you’re new to meditation, we’d suggest starting small, maybe just five or ten minutes to start. Our brains are used to going 100 miles per hour at all times, so it’s quite the adjustment to start with 30 minutes or an hour. You want to set yourself up for success, so keep it brief at the beginning and then gradually increase the time as you get accustomed to meditating and want to dive in deeper.
Third, practice breathing. You may be thinking, “I know how to breathe,” but there are actually a few techniques to ensure you’re breathing for relaxation and focus. Check out the guide from Everyday Health. It may sound small, but once you master the art of breathing, you’ve tackled an incredibly important step in meditation.
Fourth, start meditating. This could look like several different things. You could simply focus on your breathing and try to clear your thoughts for a few minutes, which is how most meditation exercises start. You could also scan your body to get a general idea of how you’re actually feeling. You could even focus on a specific person or situation in your life. Once again, it’s really up to you and your goals.
That’s about it! Of course, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the fact that hydration is a head start. Staying hydrated has been proven to improve mental and physical health, which will only make the process easier — so, be sure to keep that Iron Flask full throughout the day to make sure you’re doing everything you can to stay in the moment.
The Benefits of Meditation
To start, we’re going to simple offer a list of the benefits of meditation, and then we’ll explain a bit more:
- Improve emotional health
- Reduce stress, anxiety, and depression
- Increase and strengthen focus/attention
- Improve sleep
- Reduce age-related memory loss
- Control pain
- Decrease blood pressure
- Increase overall kindness and empathy
This may sound too incredible to be true, but it’s been proven time and again by people who practice meditation. Although, we do need to offer a quick note. This article is not meant to replace advice from your doctor. If you have a mental or physical diagnosis, please seek medical attention and follow instructions from a medical provider.
The ultimate goal of meditation is to be present. There’s a quote about meditation that says, “You are the sky, everything else is just the weather.” What it means is that the busyness and anxiety that comes from everyday life is simply something we create for ourselves. And, once we learn to focus and be present in the moment, we learn that those things can exist outside of our happiness and contentment. You can have worries and clutter and put them away for a few moments every day.
But, don’t take our word for it. Just give it a try! For two weeks, spend 5-15 minutes every day simply being quiet and paying attention to your body, mind, and immediate surroundings. There’s no mysticism. There’s no trick. It’s just you, your mind, and a few minutes of peace. That’s all you really need. You got this.