I’ve been trying this new exercise routine over the last few weeks and I’m starting to get a real taste of the benefits in a relatively short amount of time.
I’m not the best when it comes to finding time for exercise.
The mere thought of putting on socks and gym shoes is enough to make me quit before I’ve even started. But I know the benefits of exercise include, not only a good looking body, but stress reduction, mental clarity, and those endorphins that make us feel so good.
So when I discovered this new routine that doesn’t require gym shoes (and doesn’t make me sweat like I’m in a sauna) I knew I had to try it. It’s called meditation and yes, it’s exercise. Exercise for your brain.
Training your brain
I want to challenge you to think about this differently.
Meditation is an exercise for your brain like yoga, running, or kick-boxing is an exercise for your body. You activate different areas of your brain, creating different quality brain waves for longer periods of time, and the results include more than just a good looking brain; you get a balanced mental and emotional state.
I’ve only been meditating for a short amount of time, but I’m already thinking more clearly, feeling more centered, and there is a noticeable difference in my happiness quotient.
Is meditation beneficial, or just ridiculous?
Meditation is an exercise in recognizing, understanding, and letting go of thought habits, quieting your mind, and making room in your head for new ways of being, thinking, and receiving.
There are a lot of misconceptions about meditation, but at its core it is “a practice that takes us beyond the noisy chatter of the mind into a place of stillness and silence. It doesn’t require a specific spiritual belief, and many people of many different religions practice meditation without any conflict with their current religious beliefs.”
Here’s what I used to think about meditation. (Maybe some of you can relate.)
I can’t meditate because my brain won’t shut off
Meditation is some weird new-age nonsense
I don’t have time to meditate
Meditation is boring as f*#$
I’m a novice to meditation and I’m not pretending to have any amount of expertise, but as an entrepreneur, I recognize this is a life hack for quickly building more confidence, clarity, and renewed health with very little investment.
1. My brain won’t shut off
Yeah, that’s what I thought too. When I first got started with meditation, I wasn’t fully committed to the practice or the time.
I downloaded a free app to help me out and started doing 3 minute guided meditations. These were short enough that I could actually complete them. Since they were guided, I didn’t have to shut off my brain, I just had to listen and do my best to follow the directions.
2. Meditation is some weird new-age nonsense
If you think exercising your body is weird, then yeah, meditation is probably going to fit into that same category. But if you understand that exercise is useful for keeping your body healthy, boosting your immune system, maintaining an ideal weight, coping with stress, raising your serotonin levels and a multitude of other benefits, then you can see how an exercise for your brain might also be beneficial.
Meditation has been shown to improve mental focus 10x, dramatically reduce depression and anxiety, and improve overall health including immunity and energy levels and more.
3. I don’t have time to meditate
This is definitely the most common excuse for any type of exercise, but if it’s important to you and the benefits outweigh your excuses, you will find the time.
I’ve tried meditating in the mornings and that doesn’t usually work (because my kids get up with me and the thought of morning alone time is a foreign concept). So, I tried meditating during lunch — sometimes that works, sometimes it doesn’t. Finally, I’ve tried meditating at night before I go to sleep. Aha! I found a winner!
This is the best time for me because I need to quiet my mind in order to sleep well. Meditation helps me process the stress and emotions of the day, and if I fall asleep, mission accomplished.
4. Meditation is boring as f*#$
Okay. I can really understand this one because the first few times I tried meditating, it was pretty challenging to sit still (even just for 3 minutes), but using guided meditations really helped.
As I’m becoming more practiced, I’m finding that I’m able to see my thought habits and patterns of thinking as an observer of them rather than participating in them mindlessly. It’s incredible when you start to discover the patterns you’ve created in your brain that are contributing to anxiety, stress, uninspired problem solving, confusion, and more.
So no, it’s not boring. Each time I meditate, I discover something new about myself.
4 simple steps to start meditating
Download a free app like Stop, Breathe, Think or use Google to find other guided meditations that look interesting to you.
Build meditation into your daily practice for a week or more. Check-in with yourself at the end of the week and see how you feel before and after meditation.
Start with a short 2 – 5 minute guided meditation and try it during your downtime. If you truly don’t have a moment to spare, take an extra long restroom break just before you go to sleep at night. Find the time.
Try meditating for 3 minutes simply by listening to your own breathing instead of a guided meditation. Every time a thought distracts you, bring your attention back to your breath.
Some of the greatest and most successful minds incorporate meditation into their daily routines. Will you be one of them? Let me know in the comments about your experience, hesitation, or new meditation practice!
This article has been edited and condensed.
Nicole Bevilacqua, The Public Introvert, is a personal empowerment, confidence, and communication coach for introverted women. Her techniques and instruction have helped women from all backgrounds learn to speak up, speak well, and speak with confidence to impact their communities and the world. Connect with @pubintrovert on Twitter.