Meditation is something I have always wanted to try. We’ve all heard that this practice supposedly reduces stress, but it can also improve your concentration and ability to multitask, which makes it the perfect addition to the life of a busy professional. Not only can meditation alleviate the daily agitations of a workday — the enhanced focus and mindfulness it provides might enable you to excel in ways you never thought possible!
For me, the reason I have not made more of an effort to meditate in the past is that I was unsure of how to go about it. I had an image in my head of a serene person sitting cross-legged on a yoga mat, but I didn’t know what was supposed to happen beyond closing my eyes and arranging my hands into an “om” position. So, when I heard about Headspace, a phone app that teaches users how to meditate for ten minutes a day, it seemed like the perfect way to begin. With such a short time commitment, this app is perfect for anyone managing a hectic schedule or household.
Still not convinced that you have time to meditate on top of taking care of your kids and preparing for your 10 a.m. meeting? Here are a few more reasons why you should set your alarm ten minutes earlier than normal to meditate:
- Meditation can change brain physiology in a way that slows down the aging process
- Its ability to relax you (by lowering blood pressure) is tremendously beneficial for your cardiovascular and immune health
- It will increase your happiness, self-awareness, and acceptance of the world around you!
For my first Headspace session, I put my headphones in, sat on my back deck, and listened to the step-by-step instructions told in the voice of a pleasant British man. (Something about British accents is very soothing to me — probably because I spent a semester abroad in England.) The app instructed me to begin with my eyes open — just to take in my surroundings before shifting my focus to breathing. I was told to take deep, slow breaths and try to notice how my body changed with each inhale and exhale. Next, the app instructed me to appraise how my body felt “from head to toe.” If I noticed any stiffness or soreness, I simply acknowledged it and then moved on to the next part of my body. This idea of acceptance and making peace with the way things are has become central to my practice.
When the app instructed me to “let my mind wander” (as opposed to counting my breaths), I was surprised to find that my mind was blank. For someone whose thoughts are usually going a mile a minute, it was refreshing to just take in the sounds of nature that surrounded me. I opened my eyes much calmer than when I started, with a simultaneous feeling of that all of my senses had been heightened. (Kind of like waking up from a power nap.) I vowed that the next day I would meditate first thing in the morning to start my day on a good note.