Achieve Balance Amidst the Chaos with a Meditation Practice
Have you ever wished you knew a way to manage stress better? You may have heard of meditation but aren't sure it would work for you or don't know how to start a meditation practice.
The good news is that any of us can learn to meditate quickly and easily. Better still, the benefits of meditation are almost instantaneous and can positively impact our ability to manage stress. If you're seeking calm amidst the chaos of daily life, Goodman Psychologist Associates Clinical Psychologist Karen A. Baker, PsyD, explains why you should consider a meditation practice.
The Benefits of Meditation
Many of us know about meditation's "soft" benefits—we feel calm, centered, and relaxed. We may have tried meditation before and felt some of the positive benefits, or we may have heard a friend talking about how meditation helps them decompress after a tough day.
However, a meditation practice is a little different. To get the full benefits of meditation, you should do it every day or most days—not just listen to an app or YouTube video to calm down on an “as-needed basis.” Research supports regular meditation practice to boost wellness in many ways, including:
- Managing symptoms of anxiety and depression.
- Lowering blood pressure.
- Reducing your risk of heart disease.
- Boosting your immune system.
- Improving focus and concentration.
- Managing stress.
- Reducing the symptoms of IBS.
- Increasing your feelings of connectedness and equanimity.
- And more…
The list of meditation benefits goes on and on. Much has been written on the science behind meditation and its connection to our health. Ongoing research continues to uncover new benefits and positive effects on our minds and bodies.
Meditation: The Answer to Today’s Stressful World
We know all too well what is going on in the world today. In fact, thanks to the internet and social media, we know more than ever and much of it feels scary. We are confronted with politics, war, conflict, crime, and disease (just to name a few stressful items) on a daily basis.
We don't have to look far to see that people are stressed, anxious, depressed, and even fearful of what's coming next. And who can blame them? So much of what is happening today is frightening and leaves us with a sense of uncertainty. I know sometimes I feel like it's not the safe and secure world I grew up in anymore...or is it? It may be a matter of perspective—and as we know, perspective is our choice.
We don’t need to "live" in fear or worry; we can choose to shift our perspective. We can choose what we want to focus on and choose our thoughts. We can focus on things we can control and the positive aspects of our lives, which helps us feel more balanced, centered, and calm. This doesn't mean we ignore what's happening in the world; it just means we can balance it.
One thing that can help achieve this perspective shift and sense of balance is adopting a meditation practice. For example, equanimity that results from a meditation practice allows us to access rational and logical forms of thinking; stress impairs this ability. Meditation practice is the treatment that both functionally and structurally changes the brain.
If you want to feel calmer and more centered amidst the chaos, learn to meditate and set your practice—you will get back to that sense of balance. Isn’t that what we are all yearning for?
How to Start a Meditation Practice
If you're wondering how to start a meditation practice, it can help to explore some of the many online resources. Plenty of books, apps, and even videos can walk you through the basics of meditation.
The key to success is to make your meditation a practice—meaning scheduling it regularly and practicing meditation daily. Many people find it beneficial to practice at the same time each day, such as when you first get up in the morning or during a specific break.
Go slow at first. You don't need to meditate for 20-30 minutes right away. Even a brief, 3–5-minute meditation break can help you get used to the practice and build up your abilities. Research has shown that even short meditation breaks can offer some benefit, although you'll eventually want to work your way up to a more extended practice. The idea is to build a habit that you'll stick with in the long term. Combat stress and feel more balanced by starting meditation today. Even if you don't feel like you have time, it's essential to prioritize your well-being. Stress management is challenging, but we can all learn to prioritize our healthy habits for an improved perspective!
Dr. Karen Baker feels so strongly about meditation and connecting with our true self that she started the Delta Foundation for Spiritual Studies, which teaches meditation training in multiple formats at an affordable price, among other courses, lectures, and events, located in Geneva, IL. If you are interested in learning how to meditate, check out deltaspiritualfoundation.org, or explore any other option you choose to learn and practice. Just Meditate!