Did you know that meditation has officially become the fastest-growing health trend?
Take note. Meditation has been around forever. But over the past decade, it has really come to the fore, with millions of people realizing the benefits of regular meditation practice.
Go away, you’ll say. Life is too busy. I’ve got a stressful job with endless projects, passive-aggressive colleagues and horrible bosses.
When I get home, I’ve got to take care of my children, who won’t listen to anything I tell them.
And whatever free time I’ve got left is spent losing touch with old friends, failing to stay fit and unsuccessfully trying to get my finances in order.
Put another way, I simply don’t have the time or patience to sit with my eyes closed for ten minutes. Does ANYONE have time for that? Please step aside while I check my Instagram.
Well, guess what? Meditation can help you with all of the above (aside from Instagram).
I have discovered meditation after a particularly stressful period at work last year and have been a convert ever since. I am also 100% convinced that meditation can help you lead a happier, less stressful and more successful life.
Read on to find out how meditation can boost the quality of YOUR life.
Reduce Stress And Anxiety
Put simply, stress and anxiety are a result of the demands of life overwhelming your available emotional resources.
According to my wife, I am the person with the least emotional resources in the world and am therefore a lost cause. But even if you happen to be extraordinarily resilient, the pressures of a challenging job can be enough to send anyone running for the hills.
Combine that with overcrowded commutes, unruly children and money worries – it’s a surprise we haven’t all yet slipped our necks through the noose.
However, while all stressors are valid, not all of them warrant a response. Meditation gives you the emotional space to figure out what is important enough to be worried about – and what isn’t.
Improve Your Concentration
We all have those days when the inbox is filling up faster than we can clear it, the phone is ringing off the hook and there is a line-up of about ten people by your desk each asking for stuff.
The usual outcome of such a day? Nothing gets done yet you go home exhausted.
And if you are in any sort of a professional services career, I’ve got more bad news for you. The distractions are only going to get worse. As you get more senior, you will have a broader remit, more people to manage and more stakeholders to keep happy.
Meditation is a fantastic way to teach you to focus on the task at hand. The ability to zone out all external distractions and get a specific task out of the way can be incredibly powerful in the workplace.
One of my favourite self-development books defines success as a combination of will and skill. It then goes on to define skill as a combination of self-reflection, confidence, understanding others and tolerating conflict.
Achieving any level of success requires the ability to take stock of your feelings, thoughts, and sensations. You need to understand what causes you comfort and discomfort.
If you have fears, understanding what causes them is the first step to remedial action.
Self-improvement starts with self-awareness. Don’t underestimate how effective meditation can be in starting you on a journey of personal growth.
(Note: if the title of the book intrigued you, you may want to read this)
Improve The Quality Of Your Sleep
Eighty years ago, adults in the developed world have slept about eight hours a night. These days, the amount of sleep we get on a regular basis is less than seven hours.
Some call the sleep crisis a public health epidemic – and they may be right.
Getting more sleep is important, but so is improving the quality of the sleep you do get.
As you get your stress levels down and your anxiety under control, you will find yourself waking up better rested – even if you didn’t quite manage to clock in your eight hours.
In addition to improving your own sense of self-awareness, meditation also hones your ability to pay attention to others.
The better you get at deciphering signals that indicate how others are feeling, the better relationships you will build.
This, of course, will take time. You know what shouldn’t take any time?
Learning to put away your phone next time you have a conversation with your significant other, your kids or your parents. Don’t take my word for it – try it.
Reduce Desire For Social Approval
Humans are social creatures. Over thousands of years, our brains have been wired to imitate others.
After all, who wants to behave in a way that gets them kicked out of the cave or excluded from sharing in the spoils of the mammoth hunt?
This tendency to conform to social norms is the root of our desire to keep up with the Joneses. I don’t have to tell you of the disastrous effect it can have on our lives.
Well, time for another news alert. Wonderful things start happening when you become more inwardly focused and stop looking to others for validation.
Meditation can help you do this.
As I mentioned above, I have been meditating for well over a year now and I cannot imagine living my life without regular meditation practice.
No one in their right mind would expect to be able to build a strong, muscular body without doing any exercise.
So why is it that so many of us expect to have a healthy mind – yet don’t give it the exercise it needs to grow and develop?
Give meditation a shot by simply downloading an app (Calm or Headspace are good ones to try) and see for yourself.
And if you don’t like it, you can always make up for that lost Instagram time tomorrow.
Readers, I would love to hear about your experiences with meditation. Please share in the comments below or email me at bankeronfire at gmail dot com (but please do not add me to your blast lists)