Benefits of Meditation

man using a meditation app

When I first started hearing the word “meditation,” I had all sorts of visions of hardcore yoga and crazy retreats where they make you wear paper pants. The more I learned about what it truly is, the more intrigued I became. When you are looking at ways to cope with the stress life often brings, you should really consider meditation. If you have read any of the previous blog posts that we have shared, I wrote one about stress and what it does to your weight loss goals. The post may be holiday-centered, but the principles are still the same. It seems simple enough: be still, clear your mind, and just be. Not hard, right? Man, it’s hard! I am one of the many adults that can’t just be still and just exist. I have to be moving, doing, or going, but that isn’t good for us. We need that down time. We need to be able to just breathe and be. Meditation is how you learn to do that. 

I always recommend starting small and working your way up to whatever your schedule allows. I will warn you: once you get into the habit, you crave it. The solitude is addicting. There are no real rules as to where or when you meditate. I find meditating when you first get up sets the tone for the whole day. Although, there is something to be said for meditating at night due to the many sleep benefits.  Bringing down your stress level is the goal, and whenever that can be accomplished is the key. Chronic stress leads to many things – weight gain and chronic inflammation are just a couple of negative effects. 

There are many different apps out there to help you learn to meditate and several that I recommend. The ones I recommend are 10% Happier, Headspace, and Calm. Some of these do require a purchase, but they are worth it. These apps will help guide you in learning how to meditate and find your style of meditation. I personally like a guide when I first start, but once I get the hang of it, I can usually do it myself. Consistency for at least a month is key in making sure you stick with it and to start seeing results. Below you will find a “quick start guide” to meditation.

If you are needing more help or guidance, contact me through Physician’s Weight Control. 

The Benefits of Meditation

Your Meditation Space

Your meditation space does not need to be completely silent, but avoid external distractions. Set down your tablet, phones, and turn off any other noisy appliances. Any extra sounds shouldn’t prevent effective meditation. In fact, being aware of these noises without letting them dominate your thoughts is an important component of meditation.

Meditation Length

Beginners should start by doing as little as 5 minutes once a day, working up to 20 minutes per day. Don’t just give up if you start to feel like it isn’t working. It will take time and practice to achieve successful meditation. The most important thing is to keep trying to make it a daily habit.

Follow Your Breathing

Once you are laying in bed with your eyes closed, focus on your breathing and only your breathing. Make a conscious effort to change your breathing patterns. Just breathe normally. Don’t worry if your mind starts to wander. You are a beginner, and meditation takes practice. Just make an effort to refocus your mind on your breathing and try to think of nothing else.

Clear Your Mind

In meditation, you should focus on one thing at a time. When you are a beginner, it will help to focus on something like a mantra or visual object. More advanced mediators may try to clear their minds completely. Before you decide on a mantra, clear your mind and let go of the day’s activities and don’t think about tomorrow. Focus on the moment and only the moment.

Repeat a Mantra

Mantra meditation involves repeating a mantra (a sound, word, or phrase) over and over to help your mind focus on the present. The mantra can be anything you choose so long as it’s easy to remember. Some good mantras to start with include words like peace, calm, tranquil, or silence. It can be a quality you would like to see in yourself. Again, don’t worry if your mind wanders off. Just refocus your attention and refocus on the repetition of the word.

Science-Backed Reasons to Meditate

  • Stress less
  • Boost memory
  • Get more out of your workout
  • Rest easier
  • Amp up your creativity