A lot of people think of meditation as a type of luxury reserved for those with ample time, place, and the “right mindset.”
We might think of people who meditate as those who practice yoga daily and live in expensive leggings.
Maybe meditation seems like something only monks do in far-away lands. Whether you call it meditation or reflection, claiming a quiet and comfortable space just for you should not be a luxury. It’s not something that’s an indulgence or just for certain people.
There was a time when almost everyone meditated—or, more precisely, almost every man.
The roots of meditation as we know it today are largely from India where men were considered the only ones capable of transcendence.
Initially, meditation was part of a pathway to escape the cycle of reincarnation.
The ultimate goal was transcending to a plane beyond that of the earth. If this sounds too spiritual and New Age-y, that’s okay.
Because knowing the roots of the most common meditation practices is important for anyone considering this as an option for living a greater and more fulfilling life.
Today, meditation can still be used as an important part of daily life.
Numerous studies and practices show that meditating first thing in the morning is best. It sets the mood for the rest of the day and in Ayurveda studies is shown to be the most effective meditation period.
However, it also ensures that you get your meditation time if the rest of the day is overpacked. Whatever you do first thing in the morning has a touch of magic to it.
Still, many people wonder what the actual benefits of meditation are.
How does it make us a better person? Do we have to meditate for hours for the perks?
Here are six reasons meditation and reflection can create a better you, and how to start implementing it today:
1. They give you permission to enjoy silence and quiet
Most of us are over-stimulated. In fact, we’re addicted to stimulation from caffeine to always seeking out a screen.
Have you ever tracked how many times you check your phone in a day? Considered just how often you’re looking at a screen, either for work or entertainment? These distractions are getting in the way of us experiencing our genuine feelings and thoughts.
By carving out a few minutes each day for meditation, we challenge ourselves to simply sit and be with ourselves. And, no, you don’t need to meditate for long to receive these benefits. Newcomers to yoga can start with just three to five minutes.
Sit in a quiet space, preferably on the floor (a wall can be used for back support and a cushion for a little extra lift), and close your eyes. Allow thoughts to come, but also allow them to leave. This in itself, as uncomfortable as it may seem at first, is meditation.
2. It encourages us to be honest with ourselves
There are differences between meditation and reflection. Both have benefits.
Meditation encourages us to acknowledge that thoughts will come, but to work towards dismissing them.
Some people count beads while repeating a mantra to keep thoughts at bay.
Reflection is, in a sense, having a conversation with ourselves. It might involve journaling or simply sitting and facing our thoughts.
If you’re prone to feeling unworthy, practicing cognitive reconditioning (positive self-talk) can be an important part of reflection. Affirmations are another reflection tool that can be effective.
3. Meditation shows us that time is precious
Our cultures tell us that we need to pack every minute of every day with something productive.
We’re told that multi-tasking is a must, even though studies have shown that almost nobody can actually multi-task.
Meditation reminds us that being so busy isn’t healthy or natural. It’s not a great idea.
Instead, it wears us down and makes us irritable, tired, and miserable.
When we allow ourselves to meditate, we remind ourselves that simply being is enough. Simply being is part of a healthy life.
Meditation has been shown to permanently lower blood pressure, reduce stress, and decrease sadness—all in just a few minutes each day. It’s the best medicine for all of us.
4. Meditation and reflection teach us to trust our inner voice
Our inner voice also called our gut instinct, is always right. However, for some reason, we choose to ignore it.
It can be difficult not to listen to all the messages constantly blasting at us from our society and media.
There’s no escaping them without becoming a hermit, so we need to find a means of balancing the falsities we hear.
Reflection can do this. By looking inward, we are reintroduced to ourselves. We remember our values and take an active part in shaping them. Reflection can include anything from free writing to taking a walk in the woods without any technology.
5. Meditation and reflection give us a space to call our own
Do you need a refuge from daily life? Everyone does, whether you live with others (family or roommates), work a lot, or feel the need to be tied to work.
Meditation gives us space where we don’t have to perform or abide by the needs of others.
This isn’t selfish. If you’ve heard the phrase, “You can’t pour from an empty pot,” it’s true.
There’s no selfishness in meditation or reflection. Rather, you’re feeding and nourishing your inner, best self. It’s common to feel selfish in this act at first.
After all, we’re told that we need to be “team players” and if we’re alone, we should be actively working towards tangible self-improvement (like getting a certification).
Meditation and reflection are incredibly important and simple paths to self-improvement.
6. Both practices allow us to take a step back and see things from a new perspective
When we’re too enmeshed in the thick of things, it can be difficult to see other perspectives.
We need to step back, but how? Reflection and meditation allow for that space. That’s why many people report clarity after a session.
They are wonderful tools that lets us hit the re-start button and give us time to refresh and renew.
If you start your day with a meditation or self-reflection practice, don’t be surprised if what unfolds throughout the day is unprecedented in a positive way. We need these breaks to re-charge.
And both meditation and reflection can be easily added to your daily routine.
There are many tools and strategies for both. It will take some trial and error to find what works best for you, and be comfortable if your tools and strategies change throughout the years.
Try some options out, and determine what feels right and what just doesn’t work.
Use this experimenting as a means of also supporting you in your growth, in your health and happiness and creating that greater you, living that greater life.
After all, if you don’t understand what’s best for you, how can you get more of it? How can you avoid what doesn’t work? It’s all part of the process towards a happier life.