GAME CHANGER: Meditation
When I was about 12 years old, my Mom became super into spirituality and meditation. So much so, that she decided to become a Reiki master. Yes, an energy healing, meditating, chakra balancing Reiki master. Before I could say “my mother is losing her mind”, I was the weekly recipient of her reiki homework. I would lay there for what seemed like hours as she floated her palms over my forehead and spun crystals over my heart chakra. You can only imagine how this pre teen would react to such a thing. I would watch her meditate and thought it was the DUMBEST thing on the planet and would immediately return to feeding my tamagotchi while blasting Spice Girls. It’s safe to say that I became the spokes person for the “meditation and energy healing is BS” club.
My Ah-ha Moment
Looking back at that time, I never thought I would be sitting here writing a blog about how meditation has changed my life. Well, here we are. I finally decided to give meditation a shot when I started reading about all of the scientific benefits of the practice. It turns out, it wasn’t just for yogis and hippies like my Mom. CEO’s of huge companies, athletes and celebrities were all swearing by this mindfulness stuff! Last year, I found myself stuck in a shitty place with little direction and was willing to try anything to get out of it. Out of desperation and a great Facebook add (props to Oprah’s peeps), I downloaded Oprah Winfrey and Deepak Chopra’s 21 day meditation challenge app. I was skeptical, but made a vow to myself to finish it. It wasn’t long before I started to see massive results. In just a few days, things started happening! Decisions that were looming over my head suddenly became very clear. It was like a cloud was being lifted from my head. As it lifted, it revealed a more energized, passionate, content and excited me! I had new found clarity and focus which drove me to take action on decisions that had previously paralyzed me. As I started to take action, huge opportunities began to arise. My creativity started flowing again and what I like to call my “sparkle” had returned. Needless to say I have developed a daily meditation practice since, and it continues to help me stay light in what can be a very heavy city.
Here are some proven benefits of meditation:
- Improves concentration, memory and the ability to multi task.
- Increases self awareness and acceptance which helps to make you feel more comfortable being your true self.
- Induces relaxation and lowers blood pressure.
- Lessens stress, fear and anxiety.
- Increases gray matter in the brain which essentially causes the brain to age at a slower rate.
- Improves your mood and emotional intelligence.
- Increases creativity and cognitive skills.
- Slows aging.
- Helps develop positive social connections.
- Can relieve pain.
- Reduces risk of heart attack and stroke.
Still not sold? Meditation can even help you lose weight!
If you do your research on mediation, you will find that it has literally almost every benefit under the sun! I could go on for pages and pages about how many areas of your life it can improve. However as a fitness professional, what really intrigues me is how helpful a daily meditation practice can be when taking on new fitness or weight loss goals. Just a few minutes of meditation each day has been proven to help prevent emotional eating. It also helps to lessen anxiety which will lead to more self awareness when eating. The more mindfully you eat, the less likely you are to over indulge or keep eating past the point of being full. How many times have you grabbed a bag of chips or candy and mindlessly ate it because your were anxious? Before you even enter the kitchen, try turning on a quick 10 minute guided meditation. I can almost guarantee you will make a healthier choice. They have also done studies showing that meditating makes us more apt to making healthier decisions in general. Meditators reported that they were less likely to want to put unhealthy foods and alcohol into their bodies. SCORE!
Ok so I know what your thinking now.. “This all seems awesome, but I just don’t have time to meditate!”
Guess what, the beauty of this whole meditation thing is that you can achieve all of these amazing results with as little as a few minutes a day. Developing a meditation practice takes just that, PRACTICE. Like working out, you have to strengthen your meditation muscles. When I first started meditating, I found it very difficult to shut off my "monkey mind". I would try to think of nothing, but before I knew it I was planning my lunch or what outfit I was going to wear that evening. However, the more I practiced the easier it became to find that delicious space of quiet nothingness. Start with just a few minutes a day and slowly increase your time. I find meditation apps very helpful. Here are some of my favorites:
- OMG I can Meditate
Already a meditator? I would love to hear about your experience. Has it helped you get out of a sticky place in your life? If you are just beginning, let me know how it goes in the comments below!