In a rather hectic, fast-paced world, it’s hard to believe that there are very simple things we can do to lower our stress levels, get a better handle on our situations, and even improve our health. In fact, it seems that in today’s busy society, relaxation and stress reduction is a must. But the real problem is how people try to FORCE it. They either try and drink to relax, or they pop pills, or buy the latest tech gadget to help them relax.
But all of those don’t last. There is one key that has proven to work for centuries…
What is that missing key?
It’s simple: Meditation
I know you have heard of meditation, but have you really and truly tried it and stuck with it over time? Meditation is a tool that tends to easily get overlooked for a couple of reasons. In most cases, people are simply unaware of its benefits. In other instances, many people feel like it’s too difficult or that it’s not applicable to their lifestyles. Or they simply get bored of “not doing”.
There’s a certain mystique to meditation that creates these feelings, but if you’re looking to improve your life, now is the perfect time to dispel any inaccurate thoughts. I try and meditate myself on a daily basis. I will admit, when I first started, it was HARD for me to sit still. I wanted to be doing something. I felt like I was wasting my time. But what I found was that when I do meditation, it makes my life less hectic and I actually get MORE done. It seems very paradoxical, but it is true.
Sure, but meditation is hard or complicated…right?
A number of people don’t incorporate meditation into their lives because they believe it is complicated. In reality, however, it’s all about true simplicity. The most important things you need to be able to do in order to meditate for a happier life include:
It really is that simple. All three of these are things that the vast majority of us do every day without giving it a moment’s thought. There are different types of meditation, but to get the feel for it, try the following exercise:
• Allot about 15 minutes to meditation
• Find a quiet place to sit
• Close your eyes and focus on your breathing. This doesn’t mean that you need to do any particular breathing exercise, just that you pay attention to the breath as it comes in and goes out through your nose.
• Ignore any other thoughts that come to mind.
Meditation can seem a little difficult at first because of the final step. Once you sit quietly and have no other outward distractions, it seems like your mind begins to race with thoughts. Really, though, most of those thoughts were racing around in there anyway, you just didn’t have the focus to pay attention to them. When they arrive during meditation, simply acknowledge them but choose not to follow them. Instead, return your attention back to your breathing. You may need to do this many times during your 15 minutes, but the more you practice, the easier it will get.
As you become more practiced at the art of meditation, you may choose to use the time to more thoroughly examine a particular thought or idea while in this very relaxed state. Great epiphanies have been made this way! On the other hand, many of us find that meditation is the ONLY time we can really turn our thoughts off, and if that’s the case for you, then enjoy your 15 minutes of mental freedom.
What Meditation Does for You
There are a number of ways that meditation can help you pursue a happier life (Here are 100 of them). In addition to the fact that you can use it to explore thoughts and ideas, there are biological changes that take place within the body, improving both your physical and mental health.
For example, most people breathe at a much faster and shallower rate than our bodies want. While you are meditating, you are allowing your lungs to fill more fully. This improves the flow of oxygen to the brain, and it’s been proven time and again that this can drastically improve cognitive abilities and decision making. Your muscles are also better oxygenated, which allows them to work more efficiently, thereby improving strength and endurance.
Taking the time to simply “relax” and oxygenate your mind also provides an opportunity for the release of helpful brain chemicals that go a long way toward improving mood and outlook. Additionally, they can literally combat the stress hormones that damage our physical and mental health on a daily basis.
Spending as little as 15 minutes a few times a week can have a pretty major impact on your happiness. Those who engage in this type of activity generally find that they think more clearly, react to situations more rationally, and have a more obvious sense of inner well being that lasts long beyond the period of meditation.