This is a syndicated post originally written for The Life OS, an interactive self-development program
If I told you that the benefits of meditation could change your life in 5 minutes, would you do it?
You might say yes, but from my experience, the answer is sadly no.
You see, the daily practice of 5-minute meditation sessions can alter your mind and create an environment of happiness and fulfillment. That’s really all it takes: 5 minutes a day. And you can even cheat on the weekends, confining your meditative practices to the weekdays.
And yet still, when I suggest meditation to someone who’s unhappy or someone who doesn’t have control over their life, the response is almost always “no.”
Well, for better or for worse, the act of meditation has been psychologically lumped into “woo-woo” practices that have no basis in reality. But what if I told you that there have been over 3,000 peer-reviewed scientific studies on meditation and that the results are consistently astounding?
What if you could take control of your mind and your life by doing nothing for as little as 25 minutes a week? Well, you can. All it takes is a little bit of meditation.
What is Meditation?
Meditation comes in many forms. There is transcendental meditation (TM), guided visualization, heart rhythm meditation, and more. But don’t let the multitude of meditation practices scare you off, because above all else, meditation is the act of being mindful.
That’s right, “meditation” is a term that simply means to become mindful. Therefore, you don’t need all the bells and whistles of transcendental meditation or guided visualization. Instead, all you need is a quiet place to sit still for 5 – 20 minutes a day.
And that place can be anywhere. It can be at your kitchen table, on your couch, or outside at a park. Now, it always pays to sit with good posture, but other than that, there are really no strict requirements for mindful meditation. And believe it or not, good posture isn’t even a requirement, just a suggestion.
What are Meditation Best Practices?
When you meditate, what you’re trying to do is be fully present. This means, contrary to popular belief, that you can have thoughts. It’s not a crime to think during meditation.
This is actually the largest deterrent stopping people from meditating. They believe that because they can’t stop thinking that they’re failing. This just isn’t true.
Instead, thinking, and then stopping yourself from thinking, is literally the act of meditating. It’s the act of noticing your mind wandering and then pulling it back to center. It’s like a mental exercise, and each time you catch yourself thinking, you’re essentially doing one “mental rep.”
This means that there are no strict requirements for meditation. Instead, all you have to do is focus on being present and pulling yourself back into the present each time you worry about something in the past or the future.
This is why I suggest an app like Headspace to start. Headspace is a simple mobile app that takes you through short and guided meditations. It can act as an accountability partner and ensures that you stay current with your meditative practices.
If you’d rather do it on your own, that’s more than ok. When it comes to the best practices for meditating on your own, I suggest finding a quiet room in which you can sit still. Start with 5 minutes and continue to sit still for 5 minutes every day until it seems too short (which I promise you it eventually will).
Whenever you feel like your meditation sessions are getting short, up them by 5 minutes. The goal should be to eventually get to 20 minutes of meditation a day. And then when you catch your mind wandering, bring it back. Over time you’ll train yourself to do this in your everyday life, which allows you to control your mind rather than vice versa.
But other than that, your meditation best practices should be unique to you. If you get the best results meditating on a subway train, then do it! If you’re better off closing the door to your bedroom, you can do that too.
What are the Benefits of Meditation?
The benefits of meditation are literally limitless. However, the main benefit is this: Over time, you’ll notice that you have greater control over your thoughts, and therefore, greater control over your own reality. This results in a life filled with happiness, fulfillment, and contentment.
Digging deeper, however, and we find numerous other benefits. For example, studies have found that meditating can increase your mental focus by as much as 10 fold. Further, people who meditate consistently are 75% more likely to avoid depression and 30% more likely to avoid anxiety.
But the benefits aren’t pigeon-holed to the mind. No, meditating can actually increase your physical abilities, too. For example, those who meditate have been found to have 50% less disease when compared to a control group. When you compare that to an active “sport” group, meditators can have 25% less disease.
That’s pretty amazing. For more information on the studies and statistics, you can check out this great infographic here.
All-in-all, meditation is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself. The result is a stronger mental outlook and a life that you truly enjoy living. To help you get started, use Launchpad’s interactive templates to kickstart your mindfulness practices.