Chances are, you’ve heard many people tout how great meditation is for nearly everything.
Because of this, perhaps you tried it a few times and were discouraged, or perhaps you dismissed it as “woo-woo” (been there) … but I’m here to give you some epic reasons why you may want to give it another try.
Namely, even just small amounts of meditation per day (think even as little as 5-15 minutes!) can have a huge impact on your mindset and thought structure.
Huge enough to change your health, your habits, your workouts, and even your life.
Benefits of Meditation
1. Increases Patience and Tolerance
One of the drawbacks of our fast-paced society (which comes with technologies that provide most of the things we want at the click of a button) is that we tend to lack patience and tolerance.
Meditation has been shown to help increase both of these essential traits, which can be extremely beneficial in reaching our goals.
Well, consider a training program. No matter how quickly we’re able to “get” or “order” things in our modern society, one of the few things that doesn’t come at the click of a button is weight loss and muscle gains. A training regime takes time to create results, so having patience can be a real asset when it comes to sticking with a program.
Not to mention, having increased tolerance can also translate into being able to understand and overcome hiccups and setbacks along your journey, because there will inevitably be some!
2. Increases Self-Awareness
One of the core benefits of meditation is its ability to increase your self-awareness. This not only includes an awareness of your thoughts as you’re meditating, but also awareness of your thoughts and how they influence your actions during other, everyday moments.
Let’s take the example of conscious eating. Imagine you just had a full-out binge on some pretty naughty foods … and now you feel a sense of regret. What meditation can do is help you tap into what thoughts you are having the moment a binge is triggered, as well as help you notice the events and/or thought processes that lead to the binge in the first place, so you can recognize them and neutralize them.
Self-awareness can also help you develop that beneficial “pause” before your actions and reactions, which can obviously lead to “catching” yourself before you, say, eat something not-so-great. And, it can also help you “override” certain thoughts that aren’t in your best interest. For instance, say you’re laying in bed and thinking of skipping your morning workout. You may have the thought, “I can just start tomorrow.” And, normally, you might go back to sleep and keep using the same “rationalizing” several days of the week.
What meditation can do is help you catch yourself in that moment and realize “you are not your thoughts.” Then, you can override that thought with, “My old self wants to keep me where I am, but I have the power to make a positive change today,” which will get you out of bed and making progress!
3. Reduces Stress Hormones (which can help with fat loss!) and Boosts Mood
Here’s a biggie: studies show that meditation’s ability to reduce symptoms of depression, anxiety, and pain actually rival that of prescription antidepressants.
Aside from being overall good news for, well, life, these mood benefits also translate over into increased motivation and follow-through when it comes to your workout regime. Low mood and depression can not only be distracting, but also extremely de-motivating. A characteristic feeling of depression is the feeling of “nothing matters anymore,” which is obviously not a good feeling when it comes to being motivated to work toward your goals. If meditation can mediate these feelings, it can translate into increased motivation and drive.
In addition, meditation has also been shown to reduce the stress hormone cortisol. This is great news, not only because excess cortisol can tax your adrenals and lead to feeling “burnt out,” but it can also cause you to store excess fat (especially around your belly). Assisting your body in maintaining hormonal balance through meditation can help you release excess fat that you may be holding on to due to stress.
4. Increases Imagination and Creativity
Creativity and the ability to imagine are not only excellent life skills, but are also key when it comes to all aspects of health.
Take cooking healthy meals, for instance: often, making a “healthy” meal taste good is a LOT easier and more enjoyable when there’s a bit of creativity brought into the kitchen, especially where spice is concerned!
And, when we look at fitness, we can see that creativity can lead to new, more optimal moves and workout routines. Or, as we saw in 2020, creativity can definitely help with structuring a badass workout at home!
Meditation is an awesome way to unlock your creativity and imagination, as it often taps into different brainwave states that are linked with creativity.
5. Enhances Focus On The Present Moment
Another key benefit of meditation is that it helps you remain centered on the present moment. We tend to fluctuate on any normal day between ruminating about the past to worrying about the future, with the briefest moments being spent actually present in where we are now.
Being present is extremely beneficial not only for general happiness, but also for cultivating persistence.
When you’re working out, it’s easy to get caught up in counting down the minutes until you’re done (living in the future), but when you cultivate presence, you become aware that where you are is where you are right now, and in accepting that, you can put all your focus and intention on making it the best session ever. You’ll probably also notice that you begin to enjoy certain workouts more and have better results when you’re fully present during workouts.
6. Can Enhance Performance
This point doesn’t seem too shocking after learning how powerful meditation can be for mindset and focus, but it’s motivating to know that actual studies show meditation can enhance performance, big time.
The fact that meditation can increase performance lies in its ability to help remove mental and emotional distractions, increase focus and awareness, and even enhance visualization of positive outcomes (which has also proven effective for better performance in sports).
In fact, meditation in sports began in 1985 with a trial of meditation by collegiate and Olympic rowers. Many of the rowers felt their performance had improved during the trial, and attributed it to the meditation training. Research conducted since proves mindfulness lowers stress, decreases anxiety, and produces lasting physical changes in the brain, which all point toward better performance.
How To Meditate
One of the biggest hurdles that prevents most people from starting a meditation routine is the belief that they need to dive right into meditating for an extremely long time (say, from 45 minutes to an hour).
Fortunately, even just 5-10 minutes of meditation can have a positive effect, so it is recommended to start there!
Another big hurdle is the thought, “So what do I DO when I meditate?” One of the most effective things to focus on is your breath. Specifically, focus your mind solely on your inhale, repeating the word “rising”. Then, as you exhale, repeat the word, “falling” in your mind. Continue this pattern, and don’t worry about saying these words out loud, as your own voice can become distracting.
You’ll notice your mind will start to wander to other things as you do this: and this is definitely normal! The key is to continuously return to your breath, every single time the mind wanders. Knowing this can save you a ton of frustration, and can help you relax and let go of your thoughts, rather than fight them.
Consider them like waves in the ocean: as a thought rolls in, don’t fight it; just let it pass by and return to the breath.
The only other thing you need to get started is a comfortable and quiet place to sit … so let’s get started!
Why should you meditate? Here’s the list of epic reasons:
• Increases patience and tolerance
• Increases self-awareness
• Reduces stress hormones (which can help with fat loss!)
• Increases imagination and creativity
• Enhances focus on the present moment
• Can enhance performance