I know, I know. You’ve heard it before. But maybe it’s always seemed (to borrow a term) a little “woo-woo” to you. Like you have to start drinking wheatgrass, growing your body hair and raising chickens to be any good at it. (Apologies to friends of mine who do these things.) But research shows the benefits are undeniable.
Meditation can help improve your ability to focus, sleep and fight infection. It’s also been shown to reduce cases of stress, anxiety, depression and addiction. Wait. Addiction? This last one got me. How on earth can meditation help with addiction, you ask? The answer made sense.
Take the example of food addiction, which is a good one for me because I love food and am always trying to watch my weight. (It’s probably a good example for everyone since we are smack in the middle of the gluttonous holidays.) Meditation can make you more able to notice cravings so you can stop before you succumb. It strengthens the muscles of attention, making it easier to let go of the “good-at-the-time” idea of consuming Hershey’s Kisses, french fries or an entire bag of Oreos. And meditation makes it easier to cope with stress, thus making it easier to avoid using the pleasure of a gallon of Rum Raisin ice cream as a crutch in the first place.
I think we can all agree it’s good for us and we probably should be doing it. So let’s take the mysticism out of it. No one’s asking you to have an out of body experience – just close your eyes! And try not to think about anything. Ahh, the catch. It’s this last part that’s hard. I find it helpful to focus on my breathing. Or try a guided meditation.
And yes, believe it or not, there’s an app for that. At Headspace.com you can sign up to receive daily guided meditations on your phone or lap top. And the best part is you can start easy – just ten minutes a day! Who can’t carve out ten minutes?
After I had committed mentally to doing it, I realized my problem wasn’t an issue of time. It was more location related. I needed to find a quiet place where I wouldn’t be interrupted. And then it came to me. The bathroom. People are always commenting on how relaxing and spacious it is. If I do it first thing in the morning, everyone’s still asleep – even Frankie! And there’s a perfect corner cabinet that doubles as a “shrine” or place to put things like a timer or incense. So, I’m shooting for ten minutes a day, for ten days. Beyond that, I can’t commit. I’m really not ready for chickens.