I Practiced Meditation Every Day For a Year. Here's What Happened
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Though I’ve been meditating on and off for years, in December of last year, I decided to make daily meditation one of my new year resolutions for 2016. This time around, I set out to instill a positive habit that I will stick to for the rest of my life.
Admittedly, in the past, I failed to consistently make time for a meditation session when life becomes hectic. So, after spending much time putting it on the backburner, I was determined to finally make meditating a priority – no matter what was going on in my life. Since then, I’m happy to report that for the past 12 months, I’ve been setting aside at least 15 minutes a day to meditate and I don’t intend to stop anytime soon.
Not to sound overly dramatic, but I can honestly say that my meditation habit has changed – or dare I say – transformed my life. Needless to say, I have been recommending everyone I know to get on the meditation bandwagon and take up the practice too!
Curious as to why I feel so strongly about it? Here are the 3 ways that meditation helped me to become a better version of myself:
1. I Became More Focused & Productive
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been someone who thrives when there’s plenty on my plate. That said, having 1001 things that require my attention at any given time can become more than overwhelming. Like many people, my first instinct when I find myself in this type of situation was to multi-task.
Though I previously took pride in my ability to multi-task, I’ve come to realize that it comes with negative consequences. Since I would work on 2, 3, or more tasks simultaneously, it’s nearly impossible to give each task the attention and focus it needed. More often that not, I end up sacrificing quality in the process.
The practice of meditation has helped me to truly focus on the present instead of constantly anticipating what’s coming around the corner and feeling as if I’m always running against time. This increased sense of mindfulness has opened my eyes to the fact that I actually perform better and am more productive when I do focus my attention on one task at a time. As I become less prone to distractions, I found that not only was I able to get things done more effectively but I was able to do so more efficiently!
2. I Became Healthier
Once I incorporated daily meditation into my routine, it only took a couple of weeks for me to start noticing its effects on my health & overall well-being. As I experienced improvements in my health and state of mind, I was motivated to make even more changes that helped me not only create but also maintain a healthier lifestyle.
Though I do still make room for my less-healthy vices such as chocolates and ice cream (in moderation, of course), I am now able to make a more conscious decision about the food that I choose to eat on a daily basis. As I increased mindfulness – I became more aware of what I should be eating (opting to make healthier food choices) and it helps me not succumb to emotional eating when life gets challenging and stressful.
Coupled with exercise and adequate amount of sleep (7-8 hours/ day), my meditation habit also enabled me to strengthen my immune system. So it came to no surprise that I had hardly gotten sick this past year – and when I did (the flu got the best of me), I was able to recover within a few days as opposed to the usual full week.
Various research shows that meditation can even aid in reducing risks of chronic illnesses and health conditions such as heart attacks, strokes, heart diseases as well as ‘heal’ high blood pressure patients. In fact, a study by Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that two-thirds of its participants (high blood pressure patients) who were asked to start meditating regularly, were able to go off their blood pressure medication after only a few months of practice!
3. I Became Calmer & More At Peace
One of the main reasons why I had initially decided to try out meditation is because I was looking for effective ways to better control my emotions. Previously, I would easily fall prey to my emotions - automatically reacting to situations which usually leads to expressing things I would later regret. While other times, I would opt to bottle the emotions in until it would eventually ‘explode’ out of me.
As the sage Ma Jaya Sati Bhagavati, said “Quiet the mind and the soul will speak”. Meditation has indeed been a saving grace in helping me to gain a better understanding of my true self. By taking a short time to clear my mind each day, I am feeling much more at ease and comfortable in my own skin. I noticed that I no longer get easily upset over the little things. Thanks to meditation, gone are the days that I would magnify trivial situations into serious issues.
When we meditate, we are asked to focus our attention solely on our breathing, eliminating the stream of jumbled thoughts that tend to crowd our mind. It is considered by many as a type of mind-body complementary medicine that ‘magically’ induces a sense of calm and restores inner peace.
Today, when I am faced with stressful issues, confrontational situations or times where things don’t exactly go as I had hoped, I am able to easily take a step back and take my time to reassess, instead of immediately succumbing to my emotions and/or thrown in a state of panic. This allows me to calmly come up with potential solutions on how to best handle the situation at hand.
The wonderful thing about meditation is that it’s a practice that requires no equipment and it can be done just about anywhere — whether you’re out for a run, riding the train, waiting at the doctor’s office or even in the middle of a difficult business meeting. If stress has you anxious, tense and worried, I highly recommend setting aside a few minutes for meditation as it can leave you feeling refreshed, rejuvenated and ready to tackle whatever challenge is ahead of you.
Should you happen to think that you just have too much on your plate to include meditation as part your daily routine, you’d be interested to know that even some of the world’s busiest and most accomplished people like Oprah Winfrey and Paul McCartney, never fail to make time to meditate every day!
Remember that you can’t serve the world unless you take care of yourself first. The good news is that meditation is a habit that is accessible to anyone, no matter you may be in the world. It is free of cost and requires no special skill – all it needs is for you to make time for it. So, I invite you to begin your practice today and you too can be well on your way to be a better you in the New Year!
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