Daily meditation is gaining a serious celebrity fan base! With it’s long list of health benefits now being recognized by doctors and scientists, it’s no wonder meditation has become very popular in the modern world–so much so that superstars like Katy Perry and Lady Gaga swear by it.
Some of the earliest written documentation on meditation dates back to roughly 1,500 BCE from the Hindu tradition of Vedantism. Over the millennia, it’s evolved and taken on new contexts, yet it still manages to attract a large and diverse group of practitioners.
Today, in a society where everything is bigger, better, faster, stronger, I find it is vital to slow down and give your mind and body a chance to reset & reconnect. I use daily meditation to relax my rapid mind during particularly busy or stressful times in my life, or even when I am seeking clarity on a big decision. Meditation allows me to slow down my thoughts, find stillness in my mind, and connect to my true self.
Celebrities & Transcendental Meditation
I may not always follow the trends that are set by celebrities, but meditating is one thing I will definitely follow. Highly successful and publicized people such as Oprah Winfrey, Katy Perry, Hugh Jackman, Clint Eastwood all have a few things in common: A crazy busy lifestyle–and a transcendental meditation practice.
What Science Says
Those of us who meditate know the benefits simply by how we feel afterward, but I’m a research-based gal! When I am interested in something, I research all about it. I did my research on meditation and was blown away by the science-based evidence on the health benefits of meditation. Studies have shown daily meditation helps to lower stress and anxiety, increase memory, and even increase one’s empathy and compassion. A study on consistent meditators showed a thickening of three regions in the brain and decrease the in size of one region:
- The posterior cingulate: assists in learning.
- The left hippocampus: thought to be involved with memory
- The temporoparietal junction (TPJ): associated with empathy and compassion.
- The pons (decrease in size): associated with anxiety and stress.
Types of Meditation
The thing I’ve learned about meditating is to find out what feels best for you. There are several different forms of meditation. Some of the more popular types are:
- Transcendental meditation – which involves internally chanting a mantra.
- Mindfulness meditation – which brings your attention to the present moment, without any judgment.
- Focused meditation – which asks you to focus on one thing that involves your senses. Examples would be the sound of the ocean or a particular image.
These are just a few of the more popular types of meditation. I always recommend people who are interested in mediation to try out a few and see what works for you. Keep in mind that if you are newer to the practice, it may take a few times to find peace through a particular mediation style.
You do not have to sit for hours to gain the benefits of meditation. Many regular meditators practice for only 10-20 minutes a day. If you are new to daily meditation, try starting out with 5 minutes a day and gradually increase the time as you progress.
My favorite meditation is mindfulness meditation. When my life feels busy and like it’s moving so fast, which is all the time, I start my morning off with 10-15 minutes of mindful meditation. I like this form of meditation because it allows me to slow my thoughts down and purely focus on what is happening in the present moment. Because this very moment is all we truly have, right?
Mindfulness meditation is quite simple and a great place to start for those who are new to the practice.
- Find a comfortable seat on the floor or on a cushion if you’d like some support. (Option to lay flat on your back.)
- Close your eyes and start to relax your body.
- Begin deep breathing. Inhaling deeply to fill your entire belly, exhaling completely letting all the air out of your belly. (I like to do a few rounds of deep breathing before I move on to natural breath)
- Now release the control of the deep breathing and continue with your breaths’ natural rhythm.
- Notice the thoughts moving through your mind. Each time a new thought appears, acknowledge its existence and bring your attention back to your breath. Feeling the air move in and move out.
- Continue to follow the flow of your breath for your allotted meditation time.
That’s it! Simple, right? I also like to focus on a feeling during my mediation. If I am focusing on bringing more joy into my life, I will meditate with the feeling of joy and all of the physical sensations my body experiences with that emotion.
Find Your Community
Like anything new for your health and body, it’s always wise to seek out guidance from a professional. Check out meditation classes or workshops in your area to learn from the pros! You can also find great online communities, such as Headspace, that help you with your meditation goals.
I hope this inspires you to give daily meditation a try! And remember to be patient and compassionate with yourself when embarking on something new.
Related: How Yoga Improves Mood
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Photo: Wikipedia Commons