In this article, you’ll discover the big reason why meditation is important, and why you should meditate for your physical, emotional, spiritual and mental wellness.
Have you heard that meditation is good for you?
That it helps you feel less stressed and calms your mind?
You want to try it – but you can’t.
Your life is busy.
You don’t have the time or energy to sit down and learn how to meditate.
Plus, you are confused by the different ways to meditate and worry you might end up choosing the wrong meditation!
If this sounds like you; – no worries!
You are not alone in having these thoughts and concerns.
When I first heard about meditation, I didn’t have a clue what it was about or how it could help me feel better.
The Big Reason Why Meditation Is Important-4-part blog series
So, to help you kick-start your meditation practice, (or get back on the wagon, if your practice has slipped), I’ve put together a 4-part blog series – Meditation for Beginners: How to Meditate for People who Struggle to Sit Still. I’m going to walk you through the simplest way to meditate, step-by-step, with videos and links to all the resources you need.
Throughout this 4-part Meditation for Beginners: How to Meditate for People who Struggle to Sit Still blog series, we will:
- Explore the reasons why meditation is important.
- Discover the critical physical, emotional and spiritual benefits gained from meditating.
- Look at the most common obstacles people face when they meditate.
- Learn the mistakes and pitfalls you’ll face as you practice (and what you can do to avoid making these mistakes.)
- Practice different ways to meditate.
- And pick up tips and techniques to help you start a daily meditation practice.
By the time you have read through this 4-part blog series, you’ll know how to meditate to quickly:
- Relieve stress and anxiety.
- Calm your mind.
- Boost your energy.
First, let’s begin with a brief definition of meditation.
What is Meditation?
To start, let’s talk a bit about “meditation.”
Let me offer an overview of meditation to give you the flavour, depth, and breadth of what meditation is.
Maybe you have seen the movie and read the book Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. When I saw the movie, I sat mesmerised by Elizabeth Gilbert’s spiritual journey through India and marvelled as she gained a more in-depth understanding, connection, and acceptance of herself through meditation and prayer.
What Meditation Means
One of the most precise descriptions is offered by the blogger and meditation teacher Giovanni Dienstman of the blog Live and Dare.
In his article, What is Meditation and How to Start, Giovanni states:
“Meditation is a mental exercise of [focusing your] attention.
It is practised either by focusing attention on a single object, internal or external (focused attention meditation) or by paying attention to whatever is predominant in your experience in the present moment, without allowing the attention to get stuck on any particular thing (open monitoring meditation).”
Two Types of Meditation
Thus, there are two modes of meditation: concrete (known as saguna), and abstract (nirguna).
- Concrete meditation, you focus on an image, a picture, or another external object. For example, you might focus on a rose or a religious or spiritual image.
- Abstract form of meditation, you meditate on an idea or concept, such as love, beauty, or peace.
What’s Easiest for Beginners?
- For beginners, it is easier to focus your meditation on an image or external object, or something you can physically feel, like your breath or mala beads.
- Meditating on an abstract idea or concept such as divine love, loving kindness, or peace takes a higher level of skill and concentration.
Whether you practice seated or active meditation and your focus is inward or external, the key is to train your mind to concentrate on your point of focus and, as you deepen your practice and start to meditate, you sink into stillness and silence.
The word “meditate” means to think deeply about something.
However, as Giovanni tells us when eastern contemplative practices were “imported” to Western culture, meditation (for lack of a better word) was the term used to define those practices.
“…nowadays meditation has more the meaning of this exercise of focusing attention than to reflect deeply.”
Giovanni’s explanation highlights the difference between the word “meditate” and the techniques we use to meditate.
Meditation is a skill, and you use different methods to help you meditate.
And, Swami Rama, in his detailed article, The Real Meaning of Meditation, states:
“Meditation is a precise technique for resting the mind and attaining a state of consciousness that is different from the normal waking state. It is the means for fathoming all the levels of ourselves and finally experiencing the centre of consciousness within. Meditation is not a part of any religion; it is a science, which means that the process of meditation follows a particular order, has definite principles, and produces results that can be verified.
…In meditation, the mind is clear, relaxed, and inwardly focused. When you meditate, you are fully awake and alert, but your mind is not focused on the external world or the events taking place around you. Meditation requires an inner state that is still and one-pointed so that the mind becomes silent. When the mind is silent and no longer distracts you, meditation deepens
Why Do People Meditate?
People meditate for many reasons.
In my case, I first experienced meditation as a way to come to terms with the pain I felt after losing my brother (1997) and my cousin (1995). My grief started to impact my ability to function focus at work and care for my young family.
Similarly, most of my students turn to meditation when they are in a personal and professional crisis.
They are stressed, overworked, and struggling with managing the complex demands of work and balancing their family and community responsibilities.
Stress and burnout are on the rise and many employees and business owners. Talking with my clients, many lose sleep and are anxious about the effect workplace stress has on their home life.
The relentless pace of life makes it hard for you to relax, and have energy to enjoy the things you love.
Did you know that:
- A UK-wide stress survey found that almost three-quarters of adults (74%) have at some point over the past year (2018) felt so stressed they felt overwhelmed or unable to cope?
- And 32% of adults said they had media experienced suicidal feelings as a result of stress?
The survey, commissioned by the Mental Health Foundation also found that 32% of people had experienced suicidal thoughts or feelings because of stress.
And when we look at the impact of stress in the workplace, the work-related stress figures are equally alarming.
3. The Labour Force Survey (LFS) found 595,000 Workers suffering from work-related stress, depression or anxiety (new or long-standing) in 2017/18.
The main work factors cited by respondents as causing work-related stress, depression or anxiety were workload pressures, including tight deadlines and too much responsibility and a lack of managerial support.
4. And the report from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) research on Stress Depression or Anxiety Statistics in Great Britain, 2018 shows further details about the impact of workplace stress.
If you have a hectic work schedule, I’m sure these figures don’t shock you.
Work overload, the tension between colleagues, fear of job loss, financial difficulties, and conflicting demands on your time and energy at home can leave you feeling drained, exhausted, and running on empty while you lie awake at night trying to find solutions.
This constant spiral of feeling nervous, low on energy, and having your mind racing through possibilities leaves you feeling tired, frustrated, and concerned about your ability to cope.
Why People Don’t Meditate
I’m sure, like me, you have read blogs or popular magazines that feature top celebrities and entrepreneurs who regularly meditate.
For example, in the blogs, Why The Most Famous People Meditate, and 17 Insanely Successful Celebrities Who Meditate Daily, celebrities and politicians share how meditation helps them maintain their level of success and what meditation means to them.
In spite of the “celebratory status and popularity” of meditation, a lot of people struggle to make meditation a daily habit or even just to get started.
They feel meditation is:
- It’s too hard
- Is not for people like them
- They are too busy
- Have too much to do
- And, they can’t sit still
Given the social obligations on your time and energy, these feelings are valid!
Don’t worry, if learning how to meditate to improve your mood and reduce anxiety is on your to-do list, you can.
It is possible for you to learn how to meditate quickly, and how to make meditation part of your everyday life.
And, in part 2 of this 4-part blog series, we’ll cover the above reasons why people struggle to meditate, in more detail, and I’ll offer practical solutions to help you build a meditation practice!
Going back to today’s theme:-
Why Meditation is Important, the rest of this blog looks at the scientific reasons which show why meditation works and is good for you.
“Learning to relax and meditate is a simple way to bring a sense of harmony, ease, and flow to your life.” – Ntathu Allen
During my meditation teacher training course, we were taught that meditation is like observing the sea on a calm and clear day.
When you sit to meditate you see beyond the horizon and grasp a glimpse of your infinite potential and the vastness of the world.
During meditation you “travel inwards” and, with practice, you can fully experience a deep sense of calm, clarity, and conscious connection with all humanity.
And, while training to be a yoga teacher, at the Sivananda Yoga Teachers Training Course in Kerala, India, we had daily theoretical and practical lessons in yoga and meditation.
I still recall that feeling of awe and the sense of connection I felt sitting with the other yoga students and teachers.
There were people from every corner of the globe, from all faiths, ages, and religions, and we were sitting together in silence, practising meditation.
It was such an eye-opener for me to experience that depth of connection with such a diverse group of individuals.
As a black woman living and growing up in South East London, racism is rife and, up to that point, my worldview was seen through the lens of being black and a woman living in a predominately white male-dominated culture.
Sitting there in silent meditation, I sensed that connection and finally understood what it means “to live as one.” To be at peace and detect the infinite potential inside myself and others; to see beyond my neighbours’ race, skin colour, faith, and economic status and connect with them through their breath.t
It was a total life-changing moment for me to have that depth and sense of connection with people who had different beliefs and looked different from me. I felt happier, calm, connected and purposeful.
If you have ever been in a situation which shook your core beliefs about life, I am sure you’ll connect with the sense of confusion – yet total clarity, I felt at this revelation!
And now, scientific research has confirmed what I experienced and learnt during my yoga-meditation teacher training: meditation can reshape your brain.
The Big Reason Why You Should Meditate-
because meditation can reshape your brain.
Watch this informative TEDx video on how meditation can reshape our brains by Sara Lazar which gives a clear explanation of the role and benefits of meditation in reshaping and strengthening your brain’s ability to cope with stressful situations.
And then watch this video which provides further scientific findings into the power of meditation.
By playing the above video, you consent to YouTube collecting data about you.
Mindvalley provides an insightful article and infographic about the science between meditation and the effects on your brainwaves in controlling your levels of flexibility, control, and resilience.
And in the Forbes article 7 Ways, Meditation Can Change The Brain, Alice G. Walton explores the research and studies conducted on the relationship between meditation and its effect on the brain.
Her studies provide evidence from numerous studies that highlight the positive effects of regular meditation practice to preserve the ageing brain, reduce anxiety and social anxiety, and help with addiction.
And if you are still a bit sceptical about how meditation can influence your mood, research by the David Lynch Foundation on the effects of meditation on your brain shows that transcendental meditation has many benefits to mind and body.
Another meditation technique, mindfulness, has also been the subject of research looking at the impact of mindfulness on your health. Jill Suttie’s article, Five Science-Backed Reasons Mindfulness Meditation Is Good for Your Health, suggests that mindfulness benefits your physical as well as emotional health.
To summarise, the studies confirm what ancient sages knew and now being reinforced with functional magnetic resonance imaging scans (fMRI) or electroencephalogram test (EEG) – meditation relieves feelings of anxiety and depression and improves attention, concentration, and overall psychological well-being as it:
- Change the size of critical regions of our brain
- Improve our memory
- Make us more empathetic and compassionate
- Make us more resilient under stress
Now that you know why meditation is good for you and for your brain, if you are curious to discover more about how meditation can help you slow down, get stuff done, enjoy good health, and ultimately be happy, get my popular book and audio book Meditation for Beginners, How to Meditate for People Who Hate to Sit Still.
Meditation for Beginners will help you gain a better understanding of meditation and how it can help you relax, reduce stress, be happier, and more in control of your life.
In the second blog of this 4-part blog series, – Meditation for Beginners: How to Meditate for People who Struggle to Sit Still, we’ll
- Look at the most common obstacles people face when they meditate and how to overcome these problems.
- Learn the mistakes and pitfalls you’ll face as you practice (and what you can do to avoid making these mistakes.)
In the meantime,
what’s the #1 reason why you think meditation is important?
Share your thoughts in the comments below.
And if you liked this post, here are some other articles you might love:
- 15 Inspiring Meditation Podcasts: The Best Guided Meditations and Tips on Mindfulness
- Meditation Positions – How to Stop Slouching When You Meditate
- How to Easily Reduce Anxiety and Stress, and Relax
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