Meditation can be intimidating for those who have never done it. Maybe you tried it, and it just didn’t work for you. My suggestion is that you go into it without expectations. Nothing specific is supposed to happen. It’s just about breathing and settling the mind to whatever extent that’s possible for you.
[tweetthis]Meditation isn’t something you do once and then reap major benefits. It’s the kind of thing that brings changes over time with small daily effort.[/tweetthis] If you go to the gym, do a single workout, then go home and look in the mirror, you won’t see much difference. Changes to the body don’t appear instantly. Yet if you work out over three months and then look at a past photo of yourself, you’ll see the change. Meditation is like that. Do it daily, and over time you’ll notice that you have started to feel calmer and more balanced.
Health Benefits of Meditation
Current research shows that meditation helps balance the stress response in the body. When stress levels go out of balance, cortisol and adrenaline levels increase. Cortisol and adrenaline are stress hormones that cause a pro-inflammatory state in the body when they’re out of balance. Inflammation is the root cause of degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and cancer. Inflammation can also disrupt the digestive system and weaken your immune system.
So, what have you got to lose?
When you wake up tomorrow morning, sit up in bed, close your eyes, and just breathe deeply for three to five minutes. If thoughts come up about a meeting or you start running through the day’s activities, just let your attention notice those thoughts and then let them go. This process is more about quieting the random chatter in our minds (what’s known as the “monkey mind”) rather than being completely void of thoughts. Let your attention come back to your breath. It’s that simple. If you have trouble just breathing and quieting your mind, try just repeating a single word that resonates with you, such as love or peace.
When you go to bed tonight, follow the same routine. When you finish your five minutes, pause and list a few things that happened today that bring you gratitude. Ask yourself, “What went well for you today?” I’ll expand on this concept in the daily happiness week. For now, just keep it simple.
You’ll fall asleep with good thoughts and a clear mind, which will improve the quality of your sleep. Remember, the thoughts you have before bed remain in your subconscious for the next four hours! That is why thoughts of gratitude before sleep are so important. I’ve heard, “The way you fall asleep is the way you wake up.” There’s a lot of truth in that saying.