Updated: Jul 27, 2021
Have you been told about its benefits or read for yourself that it is good for, well... almost everything including memory, attention, focus, mood, concentration, sleep, stress levels, pain, eating habits and overall quality of life?
Meditation and its benefits are not only documented in contemporary, scientific literature but have been an integral part of ancient cultures, practices and texts specifically in the East for over 2500 years. Buddha's conversations on mindfulness revolved around the concept that its practice was part of a journey to reaching enlightenment and overcoming sorrow, distress, pain, and sadness. Modern-day meditators are also realising that using meditation techniques and being 'mindful' is an activity that can relieve them of day-to-day stressors that contribute to illness.
This article by Basso et al. (2019) is a real plus for all of those wondering, 'Do I need to be a highly dedicated and experienced meditator to reap the benefits?' The idea of sitting down quietly to mediate can sometimes seem overwhelming and near-impossible for those who know too well the ‘monkey-mind’. Busyness of thoughts or unease of body and mind often deters us from being still or quiet. Keeping busy is one way we avoid confronting what drives our stress and disease. While some may say you could be closer to enlightenment than your neighbour if you practiced for longer, more often, Basso (and others) tells us that short lengths of meditation can have similar behavioural effects to longer practices. The study also concludes that if you are a 'non-experienced' meditator, less time meditating is needed to see significant results.
Meditation cultivates a calm and focused mind. It aids decision making shown to be beneficial in behaviours as severe as substance abuse and disordered eating. Day to day behaviours such as forgetting where you left an item, eating more chocolate than you intended to after dinner, needing to re-read the sentences of your book, or forgetting someone's answer to a question you just asked them are all products of mindlessness. The ancient practice and well-known therapy used globally supports people through illness of both mind and body.
Here are some ways you can include short, at-home meditation practices into your life without needing to be a highly dedicated meditator.
Start short - 2-3 minutes each day is a good starting point for many people
Set an alarm on your phone as a reminder
Use guided audio to learn techniques
Pair a new habit with an old one - e.g. meditate each morning after you brush your teeth, or at night when you make an after-dinner cup of tea.
Use an app with search filters that allow you to easily find short, guided meditations
Set a timer/use an app so there's no need to look at the time
Don't give up. Keep searching until you've found a voice, a style, a time of day you like.
It's okay to feel like you're not doing it 'right', don't let this discourage you from trying again as the point is not to feel good but just to feel, as a practice in itself. Finally, you can meditate anywhere, all you truly need is your self.