For several years I have been a regular meditator. It's something that I believe in doing and try to share with others. At the beginning of this school year, last August, my husband started meditating daily as well. He's a fan now! January 1st my son began meditating regularly as well. Yes, at 11 years old he meditates almost daily. There are many good reasons to make daily meditation a part of your life. The best part is that it's something everyone can do, no matter what your age. Families can do it together, kids can be taught to do it on their own, and parents can do it when and where it fits into their life. Before you even begin to say that you don't have the time to meditate, let me repeat a common saying in the meditation community, which is that if you don't have the time to meditate for at least 10 minutes per day then you should be doing it two or three times that amount per day.
The truth of the matter is that we live in a time when we are constantly being bombarded with stimulus. The television, social media, cell phones, etc. are all pinging us and fighting for our attention. We have too much that comes to us and we usually take too little time to do nothing. And doing nothing is actually a great thing for us! yet people have so much going on in their lives that they often find it hard to just sit still. Think of your mind like a snow globe that is shook up. The glitter or snow that is flying around is all that is going on in your life. The bills, work, stress, the dinner that needs to be made, the dog that needs to be walked, the homework help the kids need, and on and on. There's loads of things flying around in your mind. Well, meditation is what brings the calm. It's what helps that snow globe settle so that it's actually peaceful again.
There are many benefits to being a regular meditator. According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, meditation benefits including helping to reduce pain, combat depression, lower blood pressure, help with psychological distress (anxiety, anger, coping, etc.), reduce flare-ups of IBD, help people quit smoking, reduce menopause symptoms, helps regulate immune system, reduces inflammation, and more. Meditation is something that helps to improve one's mood, quality of life, and is linked to numerous health benefits. There are no negatives to engaging in regular meditation. Meditation literally changes the grey matter in your brain in a positive way.
There are numerous ways to meditate, so it's important to find which you prefer. There is Transcendental Meditation, mindfulness meditation, and numerous others. I do mindfulness meditation. When focusing on my breath during meditation I either use a counting method (count each breath in/out up to 10 and the start over, also start over each time you lose concentration to a thought), or I say things like "breathing in peace, breathing out gratitude" with each in/out breath. The focus of mindfulness meditation is the breath. I have a meditation center set up in my home (pictured above) that includes a meditation gong timer (my birthday present from my husband and I love it) and zafu's. You can easily set one of these spaces up in your home or just purchase zafus to use wherever convenient. It's great to use a zafu to meditate because it helps keep your body in a comfortable position.
Many people feel they "can't" meditate, because they say they continuously think about all kinds of things when they try. This is normal, especially when you first get started with meditation. Your thoughts will wonder. But the more you continue your practice the less this will happen. Think of those thoughts as clouds that are passing by. Just let them come and go, without judging them, trying to think about them more, or purposely chasing them away. Just let them be like clouds in the sky that float on by. Each time your mind wanders you gently bring it back to your breath. It's just that easy!
I've read numerous books on meditation to help learn more about it and hone the craft. Here's the ones that I recommend:
- Why Meditate: Working with Thoughts and Emotions
- How to Sit
- Paradise in Plain Sight: Lessons from a Zen Garden
- Success Through Stillness: Meditation Made Simple (transcendental meditation)
Videos I recommend watching about meditation:
- All it takes is 10 mindful minutes
- How meditation can reshape our brains
- Reaching your fullest potential through meditation
- Meditation as medicine
Research supporting the benefits of meditation:
- 8 Things to know about meditation for health
- Meditation in-depth
- A simple, fast way to reduce stress
- When science meets mindfulness
Meditation isn't something that you can't do once a week or once a month and expect to feel the results. It's like anything else, you get out of it what you put into it. If you become a regular meditator you will feel the difference that it makes in your life. Give it a try and see what you think! I have at times seen local meditation events, including guided meditation and group meditation events, that were being offered in Daytona Beach, New Smyrna Beach, and in DeLand. I do usually post those on the site and add them to the events calendar. They may also be a good way to get started meditating and learning the basics, and then you can continue the practice at home on your own. But don't feel you need to wait for a meditation event. You can do this without one!
Update in June 2020: this article was originally written in May 2018. I still meditate regularly and love it. I added in a few more updated links to the article at this time.