Five Thousand Reasons Why You should Be Meditating

Don’t worry, I haven’t actually written five thousand reasons. You won’t be here all day, I promise.

Scroll down and check.

 meditation.

 You should be doing it.

Don’t care why you’re not. Just start.

 It has 100% changed my life and believe me, it’ll change yours as well.

 It’s a big claim and I know you’re already doubting me. But I back myself.


So what is meditation?

 Well firstly, what it’s not.

 It is not sitting on a hard floor surrounded by monks with your legs crossed.

 It is not trying to reach ultimate enlightenment and level up to Buddha master 1000.

 Actually, I lie. It can be all those things for some people.

 But we ain’t got time for that!

We have jobs and friends and gym sessions and bottomless brunches and a new season of GoT to watch.

 

I have ten minutes a day to meditate. Fifteen in the weekends or twenty if I’m really feeling it.

 Now I’m willing to bet that I’m way bloody busier than you.

 So you have ten minutes too.


Meditation is definitely not trying to clear your mind.

 Peeps often say they can’t meditate because they can’t sit still and clear their mind.

 Ahhh duuuh, of course you can’t! Your mind is a hyperactive five year old peaking at a birthday party.

 Have you ever tried not thinking? The closest you might get is thinking about how you’re not thinking.

 Clearing your mind is not the objective.

 The objective is to give your mind something to focus on so it can release the thoughts you’re constantly having about the past and future and just be present in the now.

 How often do you think you’re really present?

 I’ll answer that for you. Not very often.

Meditation is simply being present with your body and environment without the need for thinking.


 Right let’s crack in.

 Here are the 7 reasons you should be meditating for ten minutes a day.


 It’s science!

There is some ridiculously robust scientific research out there on how mindfulness and meditation can change your brain and positively benefit your life.

 Oxford University, UC Berkeley and UCLA all have dedicated mindfulness research centres.

 Emma Seppala is Science Director of the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education at Stanford University. She pulled together a handy list of some of the ways meditation improves your life, backed by science.

 

  1. It increases positive emotion and decreases depression, anxiety and stress.

  2. It increases social connection and emotional intelligence and makes you more compassionate.

  3. It improves the way you regulate emotions

  4. It increases your focus and attention while improving your ability to be creative and think outside the box

  5. It increases immune function

  6. It changes your brain! Increasing volume in areas related to emotion regulation, positive emotions and self-control, increasing grey matter and increasing cortical thickness in areas related to paying attention.

Thanks Emma!

 The science behind it shaves off the fluffy, hippy woo woo that some people associate with mindfulness.

 And it backs my own experiences so let’s take off the lab coat and get into those.


Getting a little bit of quiet 

When do you ever have 10 minutes in your day when you’re just sitting in silence and not having to think about anything?

When your only goal is to count your breaths?

NEVER!  

We are always planning, reminiscing, ruminating, worrying, analysing or just mindlessly scrolling through the ‘gram.

Your brain is constantly in action, working it’s little butt off.  

If you get nothing else from meditation, just giving yourself some peace and quiet in your own mind is bloody amazing.  

You’ll open your eyes relaxed, refreshed and with renewed clarity.


 The space to listen 

As well as our brains being a constant flurry of activity, the world around us is also going at a million miles per hour.  

We are so bombarded with distractions that we feel real uncomfortable without them.  

It happens when you’re waiting for anything. How long do you usually last waiting in line before you get your phone out?  

That little itch in your mind isn’t boredom, it’s the need to distract yourself from whatever thoughts, emotions or discomfort you’re having.  

All these distractions mean that we never really solve our own problems or listen to the answers we know are right for us.  

When you meditate, you give your emotions and intuition the chance to speak.

Everyone already has all the answers they need.

They just don’t give themselves the space to listen and if they do, they let the logical brain think it’s way out of a decision.

Three times in a row I’ve known I was in a shit situation with a guy who I didn’t want to be with and three times in a row I’ve out thought myself into staying. And unsurprisingly, ended up emotionally drained and unhappy.

The more you give yourself time without distractions, the more you will hear and trust that inner voice that’s guiding you to the life that aligns with you.


 Dealing with discomfort 

On the same point about distractions, meditating encourages you feel all the feels and be ok with it.  

You get comfortable with discomfort.  

And I’m not just meaning the painful stretch in your inflexible hips as you sit cross-legged (which you don’t have to do BTW).

I’m meaning sitting with a crap emotion. Sitting with hurt, sadness or anxiousness.

And accepting them for what they are. Knowing that they are just feelings and you can sit with them without needing to change them and without being afraid of how they feel.  

After the final and biggest boy mare of my life, I did a ten day regret meditation series.

I sat for ten long minutes each day with all that regret and anger and disappointment.

I wound myself up and could barely focus on my breath.

But I struggled through.  

When I got those same feelings walking to work or sitting in the office, I knew I could handle them and release them.

The more you’re able to sit with uncomfortable emotions, the less impact they have on you.


 Finding your sky

There is a stable, calm and content space within you that is always there and you always have access to it. You just can’t see it or find it because your mind is at level 100 all the time.

 

In mindfulness, there is a fab little story of the blue sky.  

Imagine your mind as the blue sky. Bright, warm, calm and always there. 

Now imagine your thoughts and emotions like clouds. They aren’t part of the blue sky, they just appear in it. Popping up and floating past. 

Sometimes these clouds are cute and fluffy and you’re happy for them to be there.

But other times they’re dark, rainy and even stormy.

Sometimes they cover your whole mind and it feels like you’re in a hurricane.

But always know, there is a blue sky. You don’t need to create it.   

Have reassurance that no matter what, your blue sky is behind those clouds.

 Meditating shows you your blue sky and allows you to find it again and again.


Laser Focus

About 1,000,000 is the approximate, estimated, (very) loosely scientific amount of times your mind will wander during meditation.

It’s that unnaturally fit kid that wins cross-country at school every year except it’s naturally talented at getting distracted.  

We can think of it like teaching a puppy to sit. Each time it bounds off, you gently sit it back down.  

Each time you notice your mind wander off, distracted by thoughts, you gently bring it back to your breath.  

You’ll have to do this heaps. Like, good luck counting to ten breaths without it happening.

Each time you do this, you’re building your strength at it.

It means you meditate with more ease but it’s also a skill you can directly apply to the rest of your life.

You are training your mind to focus and release distractions. This is good for work, playing sport, having sex or just listening to someone when they’re talking to you.


 Handle stress like it ain’t no thing 

Stress is a hormonal reaction in your body and once those hormones start pinging, all sorts of shit goes down.  

I’ve written about how we choose stress and that it’s caused by our thoughts. There’s lots of ways you can change your thinking and help yourself. 

But when you’re stressed AF it’s really hard to do that.

As well as meditating being this lovely little calming space in your day, you can also use meditation techniques to calm your freakouts as they happen.

“Focusing on my breath is not going to help me get the 2020 budgets done!”

“Yeah and neither is inhaling choccy digestives while your brain explodes.”

A few calming breaths can take your body from fight or flight back into rest and digest.

Focusing on counting those breaths pumps the brakes on the brain spaz and clears it to focus on the most important thing you need to do next.  

Feeling the feels and physical sensations identifies a tense tummy that doesn’t need biscuits, it just needs calm.

You give yourself the time and space to respond to what’s happening instead of automatically reacting.  

You stop those thoughts escalating your stress any further.  

And you stop yourself from punching tight ass Ryan the Finance Director in the face.


 Tee, Tee, Tee! How do I meditate!? 

Mate, I’m so glad you’re as fizzed about this as I am!  

It’s super easy. You just sit in silence and focus on your breath.  

Read this pretty italic paragraph below then do what it says.
 

Close your eyes right now and pay attention to the physical feeling of your breath coming in and out. Where can you feel it most? What is the rhythm of your breath like? Fast or slow? Deep or shallow?

Count to six.
One with the in breath, two with the out breath.
 


Open your eyes.

 Yaaaaass, you just meditated! Bossed it!


 The best types of meditations for peeps starting out are guided ones. This is where someone talks you through each part of the meditation and directs your focus.

They are also great if you are wanting to learn specific tools to carry over to your life such as increasing focus or being able to release unhelpful thoughts are they arise.  

I’m doing a ten day productivity one at the moment!  

Guided meditations are really easy to try on apps like Headspace, Calm, Insight Timer and Smiling Mind.

There are also heaps of meditations on Youtube, free online programmes and you can get amongst it in person with group meditation classes and programmes everywhere.


 You don’t just have to sit in silence

 Lots of us are fidgety or just find sitting meditations boring.

 Or it’s too confronting just sitting with your mind for that amount of time.

 Or (this is my favourite party trick) meditation turns into nap time.

 Great news homies, you can meditate or just be mindful doing everything!

 There’s mindful walking, running, cooking, teeth brushing. Anything!

 So basically I’m saying there’s no excuses, just find something that’s right for you.


 K Bye

 I hope I’ve convinced you to dabble in a bit of meditation.

 It’s a habit and let’s be honest, we’re all shit at building habits at the start.

 Meditating for five minutes a day will be impossible to schedule in (I know you scrolling for way more thank that. Put your phone down).  

Try to do five minutes a day for three days a week. Easy!  

Think of it as going to the gym for your mind. Instead of building physical strength, you’re building your mental and emotional strength.

And just like the gym, you can’t go once or twice and expect to be #shredlyf.

You gotta werk. And you gotta trust the results will come. 

And I know, once you find your sky, you’ll truly be as fizzed as I am about it!

 

Love, Tee xx

Tahirih McLaren-Brown