Meditation - This word is everywhere. Mainstream media as well as social media talk endlessly about the benefits of regular meditation practices. According to multiple psychological studies it has been reported through a regular meditation practice you begin forming new neuropathic pathways within your brain. The benefits of these new pathways has been related to many benefits to your overall health.
Some of the benefits you experience after eight weeks of meditation include lower blood pressure, strengthening your immune and experiencing a more relaxed state of mind. Regular mediation practice has been shown to increase the amount of activity in your brain that regulates your emotions allowing you to respond in a more thoughtful manner as opposed to a reactive response. In addition to these benefits meditation may also lead to improved problem solving abilities. Remember the new pathways forming in your brain? Thanks to activating different areas and thinking patterns, without even realizing it you have the ability to view situations and problems in a different manner.
With all of those benefits who wouldn't want to give meditation a try?
Well, most people. Meditation can be work. Its just like creating a regular exercise program. If a new habit is not going to easily integrated into your day, you will find excuses not to meditate. I used to attend bi-weekly guided meditations during my lunch hour. When I was able to attend on a regular basis it worked great for me. But often I found excuses. The building was too cold, some of the other meditators were too loud or I just wanted to eat lunch.
After I switched jobs, I no longer had access to the meditation. I tried meditating on my own, just sitting in silence but I either fell asleep or my thoughts were all over the place. But then I discovered Headspace. I am not getting any type of promotional support or benefits from Headspace, I'm just reporting on what works for me.
I subscribed to this app a year and a half ago and have been using it regularly. What works so well about meditating using this app is that it is so easy. I have it on my phone so I can meditate anywhere. Typically, I meditate first thing in the morning to establish a routine for myself but having the app on my phone allows me to meditate anywhere. I have done my meditation on the beach, hotel rooms, even in the car on road trips while my husband drives. Also you can choose the type of meditation you want to do.
After the initial introduction there are series of meditations focusing on various areas such as happiness, stress, focus and so on. Each series targets different patterns in your thinking and gently tries to reframe your thought process.
The most significant change in my frame of mind from having meditated as long as I have is I realize how temporary our thoughts are. That realization was huge for me. Andy Puddingcomb the creator of headspace points out the temporary nature of our thoughts and emotions. After acknowledging sometimes, I am just having a negative thought but this thought temporary. I understood that new emotions and thoughts surface all of the time. I was able to reframe my outlook essentially lessening the severity of the bad mood if not eliminating it.
So what makes this meditation work for me boils down to these few things:
1 - It is easy. On my phone, I click on the day I am meditating on and it begins.
2 - I have a regular time to meditate. For me, its first thing in the morning while my coffee brews.
3 - I have a regular space to meditate in - my home office.
4 - Headspace tracks your progress and you get rewards for meditating for certain numbers of days in a row. This feature is especially rewarding if you have a personality type that likes numbers based results.
A year and a half of a regular habit is pretty significant in my opinion. I have missed a few days here and there from meditating but never more than 2 or 3 in a row. I consider the time I sit a way to ease myself into the day. I use this time to set my intention for what I want my day to look like and what frame of mind I see myself accomplishing it in.
I'm not sure I can verify that meditation has saved my life or anything that extreme but I do know that my responses to situations have become much less reactive. I don't feel a huge rush of 'negative' emotions during stressful situations. I am constantly trying to improve and work on my focus. There are days that I struggle to control my 'monkey-mind'. During those times I try to remember to concentrate on my breath and try not to 'try' too hard. I try to remember the 'blue sky' image that Andy teaches. Just like when we fly in an airplane and rise above the clouds to a blue sky, underneath all of the thoughts and emotions we are feeling there is calm within all of us.