Meditation has been around for centuries helping people with calming anxiety, boosting focus and improving their overall quality of life.
With so many items on your “To-Do List”, kids screaming for your attention, grocery shopping, cooking meals, wouldn't it be nice to be able to take your mind off all responsibilities and work on regaining control of your mind and bettering your mental clarity?
Of all the things meditation IS, time consuming it is not. On average, all we need to set aside is around 10 minutes per day for meditation to work.
But why in the morning?
Well, how we begin our day typically sets the tone for the remainder of the day.
So by beginning each day with clear, focused and positive intentions, we increase the probability of making that day much better.
A healthy mind plays a massive role in obtaining a healthy body, the two are interconnected. So, when we train our body with exercise, we improve physical health directly and mental health indirectly.
The opposite is true with meditation, when we train our minds, we improve mental health directly and physical health indirectly.
Meditation is like lifting weights, but for our minds.
This year has surely been a shock to everyone around the world, a pandemic that restricts social interaction, ruined economies and added endless amounts of stress, mental health issues and struggle in general.
With that being said, I have laid out some journal articles to show you just how meditation can be of benefit to you, especially in these times.
In a study with the aim of observing meditation and the effect on health, they came to the conclusion that..
“Many studies of meditation practises showed their beneficial effects on depression, mood, anxiety and stress. People should be more aware of the effects of practises such as mindfulness meditation or yoga and consider their role in addressing psychological stress. Meditation may be a useful practise in maintaining health and well-being.”
Thus, for those who may struggle with certain mental health disorders, it may be beneficial to give it a try.
Two researchers Istvan and James set out to determine whether or not a 10 week guided meditation program would positively impact the emotional states of those suffering from depression, anxiety and stress.
In another meta-analysis reviewing various, published and unpublished studies pertaining to meditation and its effect on overall health, it was discovered that “Although derived from a relatively small number of studies, these results suggest that MBSR (Mindfulness-based stress reduction) may help a broad range of individuals to cope with their clinical and nonclinical problems.”
In another meta analysis I read, the researchers wanted to dig deep and looked at 47 trials with a total of 3,515 participants.
The study concluded that “Clinicians should be aware that meditation programs can result in small to moderate reductions of multiple negative dimensions of psychological stress. Thus, clinicians should be prepared to talk with their patients about the role that a meditation program could have in addressing psychological stress.”
Surprisingly under the meditation umbrella, a few things actually deliver similar effects.
The first one being yoga… There are many similarities between yoga and meditation, both typically involve a quiet space, background calming sounds, becoming aware of your breath etc.
Most yoga sessions actually include a 5-10 minute meditative cool down near the end of the sessions.
So, next time you see availability in your local yoga class, try giving it a go!
Next, is a term called “mindfulness”.
This is a term that usually involves meditation but is something you can carry with you throughout your day.
Being mindful is paying attention to your environment around you, how you are feeling emotionally and often asking yourself questions like..
What do you feel?
What do you hear?
What do you smell?
What do you see?
Where are my thoughts right now?
Are my thoughts positive or negative?
By asking these questions it brings us in the present, we become mindful or aware of thought patterns that are either constructive or destructive.
This will overall improve your self awareness which is absolutely critical for obtaining and maintaining a happy and healthy life.
Find a calm, quiet space that you can dedicate to your practice.
The way you do so will differ depending on your preferences. Some people meditate while they walk, for example.
You may find that you get the best results sitting down on the couch in an upright position and good posture, others may prefer to lay down on a bed or a couch.
I recommend using comfortable headphones, it helps block out noises that may otherwise be distracting.
Wear comfortable clothing.
Pick a time which works best for you. If you can't meditate in the mornings, set aside 5-10 minutes in the evening before bed to do so.
Focus on your breath. A good rule of thumb is 4 seconds breathing in, 4 second hold, 4 seconds breathing out and 4 second hold.
My recommendation is to try and aim for around 10 minutes daily, give or take.
The key here is doing it consistently for as long as possible.
If you miss a day, don’t miss it the next.
Like stated above, try and accomplish this preferably in the morning before you go about completing all your other tasks for the day.
This way, you’re less likely to skip out on it.
Go to bed 10 minutes earlier and wake up 10 minutes earlier, that will give you enough time to fit in a session.
You’ll discover that as you begin to practice meditation... your mind will wander.
This is completely normal.
In fact, one of the main objectives in meditation is practicing returning to the breath or becoming present after your mind wanders. This trains your brain to become present with consistent practice over time.
When you first begin, I recommend using a guided meditation, then after practice you may be able to do so on your own or with a soundscape.
Yes, my two top recommendations for applications you can download are:
Also feel free to look up free guided meditations on YouTube.
Mediation as a practice has been proven to help multiple areas of mental health for many who have tried it.
Give it a try, for at least 2 weeks consistently and see what it does for you.
You may be surprised!
If you’re looking for the ultimate morning routine to improve your health and fitness, be sure to add meditation and implement the 18:6 intermittent fasting strategy.