Meditation. Maybe you’ve tried it and think you suck at it so you didn’t pursue it. Maybe just the word makes you uncomfortable. Maybe you’ve never even considered it. All those things were true for me at one point or another until a month ago when I finally committed to giving it a solid effort. I’d heard about the many benefits of meditation from countless guests on my two favorite podcasts (The Rich Roll Podcast & The Joe Rogan Experience) and thought it was time to see what all the fuss was about.
Part of my motivation to give meditation a shot was my ongoing quest to maintain a healthy state of mind. If I’ve learned anything in my thirties it’s that every year I have to work a little harder to battle my depression, stress and anxiety (DSA) From the point in my life that I became aware that I had control over my DSA, I’ve made it a life goal to not let it dominate my existence. But it takes creativity, work and dedication to combat the evil, evil beasts that are depression, stress and anxiety.
Over the last few years I’ve meditated a few dozen times but I could never get it to stick. I never used any programs or apps to help, I just tried to sit down and not think for awhile. I’d end up thinking the entire time, then tell myself I suck at this and not try again for a few months. Against the will of my inner skeptic, I recently decided to try the Headspace app. Something about using an app on my phone to meditate didn’t seem right at first but it’s turned out to be incredibly effective. I’m currently on my longest meditation streak ever, 30 days and counting.
At first, I wasn’t sold anything would come from it. But 30 days later the benefits are proving to be well worth the 10 minute practice every morning. Here’s how daily meditation is improving my well-being:
- I’m less easily agitated. Those stupid, unexplainable moments that would set me off have faded away. I feel as though I’m better able to analyze, breathe and reasonably react rather than just act out in emotion.
- I feel more connected to my surroundings. I couldn’t tell you how many times in a day I’d ask myself “did I lock the car?”, “did I lock the house?”. Things like that would drive me crazy and it was because I was always in my head, thinking about other things rather than being aware of the fact that I was locking the door. Meditation is all about being mindful and aware of the present moment. Now when I lock the door I’m fully engaged with the fact that I’m locking the door. This is just one example; but that awareness is bringing me peace in more ways than one.
- I have the ability to control my thoughts, not let my thoughts control me. I’ve always heard people say that our brains are a muscle and meditation is like weight-lifting for the brain. I now understand why. The more I meditate the more I’m able to guide my thoughts in a positive direction. I’m able to separate reality from fiction. I can recognize a thought as a thought and not dwell on it or exacerbate it. This is an incredibly powerful and liberating feeling.
- I’m more grounded in the present moment. This may be the single best reason to meditate. Meditation is rooted in teaching us how to live in the present moment. Living in the moment is the most powerful cure for depression, stress and anxiety. Dwelling on the past and the future feeds our DSA. Solely focusing on what can be accomplished right now is how I’m able to find peace and contentment in my life.
- I generally feel more calm, clear and collected. For someone that is easily stressed, I can hardly put in to words what a gift that is. Life feels enjoyable, the stressful days feel manageable. I feel in control of my emotions rather than the other way around.
I’ve always believed exercise to be the most effective remedy for my DSA. Now I see meditation as an equally effective tool. The two together are proving to be the most potent combination I’ve found for maintaining a healthy state of mind. If you don’t have the time to dedicate to exercise and meditation everyday, start with meditation. It’s the least time commitment (10 minutes a day) with the highest return. Anyone can find 10 minutes a day to spare if they value their well-being. You may find it boring at first, uncomfortable or annoying but trust me, in time, the benefits will reveal themselves and they’re just as good as any anti-depressant I’ve ever taken.
If you’re not sure how to start, I’m now a huge fan of the Headspace app. It tracks your progress, guides you thru the steps and makes the process simple to understand. If you, like me, struggle with depression, stress and anxiety, I hope you’ll give meditation a shot. We all have the power within us to clear the grey skies from our mind. We all have the ability to find clarity and contentment in our lives; but it takes work. Meditation is one of the best tools I’ve found to accomplish that feat.