5 Reasons Meditation Should Be a Part of Your Wellness Routine
You have your daily hair, skin, and nails routine, but do you prioritize your wellness routine? Wellness is all-encompassing; there are many ways that an individual can practice this art, including: positive affirmations, moments to clear your brain, small acts of kindness to yourself, and meditation. One of the most underappreciated forms of wellness is meditation; whether you are a student or a licensed professional, meditation can help you to stay balanced and calm. There are two common forms of meditation, open and focused, both are sure to give you positive results depending on the necessary focus you are looking to achieve.
What is Meditation?
Meditation is the practice of being present and clearing your mind from all distractions. There are many ways that you can practice mediation; you can follow a guided meditation, listen to mantras, music, breathing techniques, mudras, and yogic methods. There is no right or wrong approach because it should be centered around what feels most natural to you and what makes you feel connected to yourself. As individuals, we tend to hold on to various thoughts and feelings throughout the day. It can be either good or bad thoughts, but both often create a sense of anxiousness, worry, fear, excitement, and wanting more, which can alter your focus. There is nothing wrong with planning, setting goals, or reflecting back, but when it starts to create a sense of dwelling on the next thing or wishing things were how they once were, it can cause an altered state of mind. Realizing that the present moment creates peace for yourself while aiding in reflection and planning allows your decisions to become much easier!
1.) Promoting Better Focus
As a student and professional, it is necessary for you to keep focused during your studies. When you meditate using a focused approach, you learn to focus on the present moment while learning relevance. Using breathing techniques, which emphasizes focusing only on your breathing, or the rising and falling of your chest; or following along to a guided meditation where you follow specific instructions presented to you, are great tools that will help you promote focus.
The practice of meditation is scientifically proven to positively alter the processing of your brain, allowing you to feel less anxious and worried about past and future factors. According to George Dvorsky, various scientists believe that gyrification—the cerebral cortex starting to “fold” as a result of brain growth, is a direct reflect of daily meditation. Gyrification is known to be associated with improved decision-making skills, increased attention and focus, and elevated information processing. Your brain, just like everything else in your body, is a muscle that needs to be exercised daily in order to strengthen and improve. When you learn to focus on one thing at a time, you are able to zone out distractions a lot easier.
2.) Sparking Creativity
Expanding your ability to create and widen your mental scope is done through an open meditation. This is best used when you are listening to mantras or calming music. Open meditation is designed for you to sit in silence and let your mind wander. This approach gives up control to your mind; the key for this kind of meditation is to not direct your mind in any specific way, but rather just let it go. Not only will this release a lot of suppressing thoughts and feelings, it will also generate an open area for new thoughts and ideas to come in. With all of our thoughts throughout the day gathering in one spot, it takes up a lot of space. You start thinking back on conversations, memories, your to-do list, etc., causing your mind to become crowded, otherwise known as cloudiness. Allowing your brain to be “free” will create room for creativity to come to you, rather than you trying to find it.
As a professional, creativity is part of your career by sparking up ideas, artwork, and trends for yourself and guests. Creativity is natural and it can come to you at the most random times; by decluttering your brain, you allow for more space for positive and growth-driving thoughts.
3.) Reducing Stress and Anxiety
The most common reason individuals start meditative practices is to reduce stress, anxiety, and depression. By redirecting your attention, you are able to better control your mind and associated thoughts. We often hear people say their mind is “wandering” or they have a “rabbit hole of thoughts”. Your mind is incredibly powerful and has the ability to completely manipulate the way you think and how you function from day-to-day. Meditation helps redirect those wandering thoughts by promoting mindfulness.
What is mindfulness? Think of it as taking a step back from yourself to better understand who you are beyond the surface. You can find mindfulness questionnaires everywhere, but some questions can include: “What are some thoughts or beliefs that I am holding on to that no longer serve me?”, “How would I describe myself to myself?” “What in my life do I currently have control of? What is out of my control?”, “What is this moment asking of me?”.
In finding out more about ourself and the subconscious ideas we hold on to, we can begin to navigate our mind one instant at a time. Through mindfulness we can start to control what feels uncontrollable, causing us to worry less about our surroundings and how much of an impact we allow it in that moment.
4.) Increasing Empathy and Compassion
We have all experienced those moments where a person was unnecessarily rude for no apparent reason. In those moments, we tend to act on the defense and blame the other person for being disrespectful. While it was more than likely wrong on their part, it could be a direct reflect of their current situations. Additionally, we have also experienced moments of sadness, stress, heart-break, and disappointment where we become unaware of how we are treating others. Thus, causing a similar situation to those observing us.
In practicing meditation and diving into your mindfulness, you can begin to reflect on what that individual in that moment is experiencing by recognizing it in yourself first. Your compassion, for not only that moment but also that person, will instantly change. It is not to say that those actions are justified, but rather training how you directly respond in those moments. Meditation helps you connect with yourself on a deeper level, allowing you to connect with others on a deeper level, too. Practicing random acts of kindness and showing love in small ways, will create a chain reaction starting with you.
5.) Generating More Gray Matter
You may be wondering what gray matter is. Dr. Case Adams will take a more scientific approach, but the basic explanation is a composition of tightly bound neurons that work directly with various brain functions. A healthy individual will have a lot of grey matter in their brain because the neurons are being filled with necessary nutrients. Gray matter works directly with all of our cortexes, including the cerebral cortex that we talked about above. The benefits go beyond increasing focus and memory, it also has added health benefits.
Those that are suffering from insomnia, back pain, forgetfulness, and fatigue are shown to have lowered or abnormal levels of gray matter. Through various studies, consistent meditation is linked to increases in gray matter and which directly improves current health conditions. Think of gray matter as the intervention center for the body, if your gray matter is functioning properly, everything else will follow suit.
Looking at the large scale of science and wellness, daily meditation will help the brain repair itself, causing the body to positively react.
Reflecting on Meditation
Ideally, you want to devote about 20 minutes a day to some sort of mediation or mindfulness practice. However; it is understood that your schedule is busy and it might be hard initially to devote that much time to meditate, especially if you are just starting. The most important part of meditation comes from consistency. You would not expect to do push-ups once and immediately have toned arms (even though that would be amazing), the same thing goes for your mind. It takes consistent practice.
The benefits above are guaranteed and proven to work on those that devote time to it daily. Even if it is just five minutes when you wake up or before you go to bed, you will start to feel immediate progress. Eventually, you will want to devote more time for your own inner peace.
At the Institute of Beauty and Wellness, we promote wellness to our students and faculty members. Our programs will help aid you in these daily practices, but it is crucial that you incorporate this into your routine even after work or school. As always, practice makes perfect!
Share with us your thoughts on meditation below! What has been working for you? What would you like to know more about?