By Megan Waterfield
You may be thinking — “meditation is boring”. “It doesn’t work”. “It’s a waste of time and all I can think about is everything I need to check off my to-do list”. “Only hippies do it and they’re just trying to look trendy”.
What if we told you that meditation would *actually* change your life? That there are hundreds of studies proving the benefits of meditation? That people have been doing it for thousands of years? And that it’s as easy as sitting quietly by yourself for 5 minutes each day?
Meditation literally changes your brain. In different Harvard studies, researchers discovered several benefits of meditation:
- Participants’ brains thickened after an 8-week meditation course
- Depression, chronic pain, and anxiety were reduced
- Meditators adopt a “Relaxation Response” as opposed to fight-or-flight
And this is just scratching the surface. Keep reading to discover more reasons to start meditating.
Meditation has been shown to increase sleep time and improve sleep quality, therefore reducing insomnia symptoms. When you meditate, you’re entering a deep relaxation stage which can reduce measures of arousal in the brain. Lower brain activity = no more late-night “mind racing” = a darn good night of sleep.
Stressed or anxious? Meditate.
A 2013 study revealed that participants of meditation training decreased their anxiety levels by nearly 40%. The study found that when people meditate, there is more activity in the areas of the brain that control worrying and thinking/emotion, which in turn decrease anxiety. The brain is able to override the part that’s responsible for your fear mechanism, allowing you to process situations and challenges with more ease and clarity.
We’ve all experienced those “brain fart” moments and slightly panic that we’re losing our minds. Your solution: meditate! Studies have shown that meditation increases blood flow to the frontal and parietal lobes of the brain, which are involved in retrieving memories. Based on these results, the study concluded that meditating can help some people’s mild memory problems from progressing to more severe problems.
Always sick? Meditate.
Wait, you’re telling me that if I meditate, I can avoid blowing my nose all winter? It’s definitely possible! One study took blood samples of all participants to analyze which genes were expressed during meditation. All participants showed a shift in genes related to stress, inflammation, and wound healing, and the more experienced participants of meditation showed a shift in genes related to fighting viral infections. So, instead of spending your money on tissues and NyQuil this winter, try meditating and see how it impacts your health (and bank account).
Lacking creativity? Meditate.
When you meditate, you’re allowing your brain to welcome in new ideas and solutions that otherwise wouldn’t be received because your brain by default has its “guard” up. Similar to how we experience emotional release during hip and heart openers, when you allow your brain to open up, meditators receive those “aha” moments, even if you haven’t been meditating for very long.
Burned out? Meditate.
Everyone experiences burn out at some point in their life, whether it’s from too much schooling or being overworked. Research has shown that taking time to quiet your mind can reduce work-related exhaustion, allowing professionals to take their minds off of their 9-5 and improve their on-the-job performance.
We’re convinced that the world would be a better place if people just took the time to meditate. There’s nothing good about feeling your blood boil when you’re angry — not only is it upsetting and uncomfortable, but it’s a threat to your health. Meditation forces you to become aware of your mind, body, and breath, allowing you to step back and consider your response before you react. Over time, you may find that things that used to trigger you don’t bother you anymore. For instance, being cut off on the interstate no longer ends with you screaming at the top of your lungs inside your car. Who doesn’t want that?!
Think it’s time to meditate?
We’ve got you. A great way to get started is by using guided meditations, which can be found on our on-demand yoga platform, EvolutionGO. Whether it’s 5 minutes or 20, our instructors lead you through several different types of meditation, including nidra, restorative, and breath-focused. Still skeptical? Read how meditation has impacted one of our own yogi’s lives!
We understand that it can feel awkward at first — after all, no one thinks that sitting in silence with their eyes closed for 10 minutes is exactly the most exciting use of their time. However, once these benefits start kicking in and transforming your life, meditating will become the highlight of your day. Get started today!