Now Is the Best Time to Start a Meditation Practice

And how you can get started today

Photo by Simon Rae on Unsplash

These days, it feels like everything demands your attention.

All. The. Time.

Your focus is split between breaking news headlines (what else is falling apart today?), work deadlines, and basic survival needs.

Each day you’re faced with a constant flood of demands and there’s no end to the waves crashing down on you. The nonstop overload has you feeling like a ship about to be consumed by the storm.

It’s time to navigate softly to smoother waters, friend.

While it feels like you have no control over your reactions — you can, with the simple yet powerful practice of meditation.

Your brain has been conditioned to think it has no control, but it can.

Through meditation, you can train your brain to slow down, be present, and stay in control.

Which is why beginning a meditation practice is one of the best things you can do for yourself.

You deserve to take charge of your attention. You deserve a sense of calm, control, and well-being amid the chaos. Right?

Today is the day to start your meditation practice.

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Why Meditation?

I was once skeptical of the impact a few simple breathing exercises could do. But — show me an extensive body of research and consider my interest piqued.

Meditation has decades of research revealing numerous benefits — from an increased sense of calm and attentional awareness, to improved sleep and even reductions in pain. Researchers all over the globe are fascinated by this simple, yet effective practice.

What is most amazing is that anyone can practice, anywhere and anytime.

And it’s completely free. You might assume — as I did — that you need to spend money on expensive classes and buy a specific meditation cushion. But, you don’t actually need any fancy equipment. You don’t need any equipment period!

It’s as simple as sitting down for a few minutes and just noticing what happens. Really.

Your days demand more of your attention than ever. Meditation trains your mind to slow down your reactions to what’s happening around you. It allows you to observe your thought processes, without automatically assigning positive or negative emotions.

Over time, you’ll detect thought patterns. You’ll notice how your body reacts under pressure. When you’re stressed out, do you clench your jaw, or tense up your shoulders?

Have you spent all day fuming because someone forgot to clear the dishes again? By noticing the thoughts, feelings, and sensations that arise, you bring yourself back into the present moment.

You then can choose how to respond.

Meditation builds the skills so you can stop autopilot-reacting to things.

You only have a fixed amount of time each day. Who gets to direct your focus?

The answer is you.

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Benefits You’ll Notice Immediately

  • Improved attention
  • Reduced stress and anxiety
  • Better sleep
  • Improved happiness and well-being

Your Attention Will Improve

One study found that after just five days of a meditation practice, individuals saw improved attention and control over stress¹. Meditation strengthens your ability to focus on the present moment. It gives you control over what you pay attention to.

At its core, meditation is about being intentional with your attention². That is — paying attention on purpose.

You’ll be less distracted, and more focused on what you want.

Experience a Reduction In Stress and Anxiety

Around 1 in 3 adults will suffer from anxiety at some point in their lifetime³. This means you, or someone you love likely struggles with anxiety. Meditation is emerging as a tool recommended by mental health practitioners.

This practice has been shown to alleviate feelings of stress, worry, and anxiety⁴. In one study, 50 participants took part in a 10-week mindfulness meditation program. After the program, participants saw big decreases in their depression, anxiety and stress levels.

Astonishingly, those who began the program with the most severe emotional difficulties showed the greatest benefits from their meditation practice. It’s amazing that those who needed the most peace found the greatest benefits.

Fall Asleep Quickly, Sleep Soundly, and Wake Up Rested

Studies on insomnia and other sleep disturbances have shown that a meditation practice can greatly improve sleep quality⁵.

But for many of us, falling asleep and staying asleep is easier said than done. Have you ever reached for a sleep aid medication? Prescription medications remain a common treatment. But concerns over side effects have led many to consider alternatives.

More and more, people are turning to alternative ways to relieve sleep problems. Meditation has emerged as an effective way to treat sleep issues, without risk of negative side effects.

I struggled with sleep issues for years. It used to take me one, two, even three hours to fall asleep each night.

Within a month of dedicating 10 minutes a day to meditation, my sleep issues had vanished. After years of distress and sleepless nights, I was sleeping more soundly than ever before.

I’ve never seen something so simple make such an immediate improvement to the quality of my life.

Achieve Greater Happiness

Who wouldn’t want more happiness and less stress in their life?

A 2015 study found that those who went on a mindfulness meditation retreat experienced greater happiness and lower stress levels at the end of the seven day retreat⁶. Awareness and appreciation of the present moment brings a extraordinary sense of well-being.

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Here’s How You Can Start Right Now

1. Find a quiet spot where you can sit or lie down comfortably.

2. Close your eyes.

3. Bring your attention to your breath. Focus on the sensation of breathing in and out.

4. When thoughts appear, just notice them without judgement — and refocus on the breath.

That’s it.

If you are completely new to the practice of meditation, aim for two minutes to start. You can set a timer or count a set number of breaths.

The key to staying consistent is setting a goal so easy, you’re confident you’ll succeed. Don’t overwhelm yourself by setting a goal that will cause more anxiety. As you get familiar with the practice, you can start increasing the amount of time you spend meditating.

What Are You Waiting For?

Meditation is a practice that you can weave into your day, helping your mind flow effortlessly through daily transitions. For instance, instead of scrolling through social media — a common source of disconnection and anxiety — enjoy more productive afternoons by meditating during lunch.

After arriving home from a long day of work, take a few moments to let go of the stress from the daily grind. Take 10 deep breaths to center yourself and bring you to the present moment. Give yourself the gift of a peaceful return to home, instead of carrying the tension of work inside.

Meditation can fit anywhere in your day.

Meditation is such a simple, low-cost practice, it can be done whenever and wherever you want. As long as you have a couple of minutes to spare, you can enjoy the benefits.

If you had the time to read this article, you have time to try meditation.

Photo by Ricardo Resende on Unsplash

There are tons of free apps to get you started. Some include guided meditations. Others have simple timers with a gentle chime that rings at the interval you set. I’ve found the right balance between variety and ease of use with the apps Insight Timer and Calm. The one that transformed my practice is the Waking Up app, which offers a free trial so you can check it out before committing.

I love knowing that whichever guided meditation I choose, whether it’s focused on sleep or reducing anxiety, I’ll soon be docking onto my private island of peace.

You’ll find yourself sailing to calm and controlled waters sooner than you expect. And when the waves return, you’ll be able to remain cool and collected.

Through meditation, you can train your brain to slow down, be present, and stay in control.

All it takes is a couple of minutes each day.

Two minutes a day in exchange for greater focus, better sleep, less stress, and more happiness?

You have nothing to lose. Imagine what you could gain.

A full-time writer and all-the-time promoter of cheese boards.

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