Are you stressed, tired, impatient and at the end of your tether? It’s natural to feel fatigued when the spring feeling fades. Stress affects all areas of your life from the bedroom to the boardroom and you need to get back on top of your game. One of the easiest and most effective solutions to stress is meditation.
Benefits of Meditation
Meditation is a brilliant way to ease tension, improve your sleep patterns, increase your level of focus and even out your temperament. A study by the US Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality found that meditation reduce the impacts of stress as well as mitigating the effects of depression and anxiety.
Meditation even helps to grow your brain! A study by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) found that mindful meditation helps to activate the anterior cingulate cortex and the ventromedial prefrontal cortex while increasing amount of grey matter in the hippocampus and parietal lobe.
Stilling the Monkey Mind
It’s all good and well speaking of the effects of meditation on the brain and the benefits in your life, but anyone who has tried meditation will tell you just how difficult it is. Sitting quietly for a few minutes sounds easy enough, until you start making shopping lists and conjuring witty comebacks to the argument you had with your co-worker.
Your mind just isn’t accustomed to being still and it can be annoyingly chatty when you are trying to focus on your breathing. The thing to remember is that meditation takes practice and it’s ok to experience the ‘monkey mind’ as you get the hang of it. This is part of the process and you will still be reaping the benefits.
Getting your Ducks in a Row
There are many tricks to stilling your mind. Start by enjoying a cup of Matcha Zen Tea. Studies show that matcha tea relaxes the body and helps focus the mind; the perfect combo for a successful meditation. Zen Buddhist monks have been using matcha tea as part of their meditation for over 900 years.
Find a comfortable, quiet place where you won’t be disturbed. Turn off all your electronics and take the phone off the hook.
You don’t need to sit cross-legged on the floor to meditate. Sit, stand or lay down in a position that will keep you comfortable for the duration of your meditation.
Focus on your breathing. When your mind wanders, acknowledge your thoughts and then set them aside and focus on your breathing. You will probably have to do this several times during your meditation but, with practice, you’ll get better at it.
Start with short meditations and then add a few minutes every day. Aim for a twenty-minute session once a day. Use a guided meditation to help you to stay focused and prevent your mind from wandering.
Schedule your ‘Me’ Time
Your meditation will be more successful if you aren’t in the thick of things because ‘stealing’ ten minutes between your meeting and picking up the kids will make it difficult not to let your mind wander.
Instead, try first thing in the morning or last thing at night, so you don’t start thinking about all the things you could and should be doing.
You do so much for so many people, you should take at least fifteen minutes a day that is just for you. Taking this small bit of time for yourself will vastly improve your ability to deal with everything in your life, so make your meditation a non-negotiable part of your schedule. Giving it the respect it deserves will help you to get into a routine that will train your brain to switch off during meditation.
Zen as a Lifestyle
Being mindful and ‘present’ should become part of your day. Creating a space for the present will make meditation easier as your brain becomes more adept at focusing and not attaching itself to random trains of thought. Take a moment before you go into a meeting, before you enter a restaurant for dinner with friends or before you give that big presentation, and be in the moment. Take stock of where you are and what you are about to do so that you give each task your best.
When we live mindfully, we are able to give our best to each challenge, to enjoy each moment and you won’t have to stop to smell the roses anymore, it will already be part of your day. Your life will seem less hurried and you’ll have more time to really apply yourself and appreciate all the good things that happen in a day.