If you’re anything like I was, the word meditation brings up images of yogi’s sitting in lotus position chanting “ommm”~incense burning in the background, all in a quest to enlightenment.
For me, that misconception got in the way of sincerely engaging in what has become the single most positive and life-changing habit I practice. Got in the way for years and not until I discovered meditation on You Tube did I change my stance.
What are the benefits of meditation?
For thousands of years people have meditated to gain peace of mind, clarity and focus. Today, some begin on a doctor’s recommendation, others to find relief from painful thoughts or feelings, while others simply want to find greater self-understanding. Regular meditation has proven to have profound benefits mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
Just to name a few:
- Decreased blood pressure
- Lower cholesterol levels
- Decreased depression and anxiety
- Restful sleep
- Improved self-image and increased positive thinking
- Longer attention span/concentration
- Pain management
Why is meditation so powerfully effective?
Have you ever been overwhelmed and confused for a while until you just stopped to take time and think? And when you slowed down to really process you were able to see clearly, and simple solutions became obvious? Well, meditation is kinda like that ~ on steroids.
I’m not a guru or a neuroscientist, but based on my research here is a practical explanation:
When we are awake, our brains are busy. Like 40-60 thoughts per minute, busy. Only about 10% of those thoughts are conscious, while the other 90% are running in either the sub-conscious or the pre-conscious. Think of the pre-conscious as the “waiting room” between the other two. For most of us, a whopping 80% of those unconscious thoughts are negative (Psychology Today, 2012).
So, while we are having 40-60 thoughts per minute, our brainwaves are pretty rapid. These are called alpha or beta-waves. They correlate to active learning, thinking and processing information. I think of this an impenetrable and frenzied barrier that clouds any inner wisdom we may possess.
In meditation, the brain slows down to theta and delta waves, which is related to relaxation and heightened awareness. In short, it slows down the frenzy enough to open the door to the sub-conscious, leading to deeper self-awareness and visualization, a.k.a. inner wisdom.
In this relaxed state, we are able to uncover buried negative, fear-based, & limiting beliefs and then begin the process of weeding them out and replacing them with new, positive, and empowering ones.
Not quite feeling your inner guru? No worries!
In truth there are an infinite number of ways to meditate and none of them are wrong. The common thread amongst all meditative practice is the cultivation of awareness and expanded consciousness.
Learn to Practice Meditation
Here is a very simple process to help you get started in your practice:
Before beginning any meditation, I always set an intention. This is not a necessity to meditate, but it is what I do.
An intention is a positive thought that I hope to make a part of my unconscious schema. For example, years ago, doing deep inner-child work, I needed to release shame. I didn’t know I carried shame unconsciously because I never actively thought “I wasn’t good enough”. However, running in the background were core-beliefs that my worth was measured and valued by what I accomplished and how I looked.
So I wanted to be rid of shame, but telling myself “I don’t want to feel shame anymore” wasn’t going to cut it. It’s the right idea, but it is stated negatively. Stating a negative intention is sorta like getting into a taxi and telling the driver you don’t want to go to the train station, expecting him to know that means you want to go to the airport. Doesn’t work. Stated positively, I began to use the mantra “I AM ENOUGH” (right now).
- · Turn your cellphone OFF! Yes OFF, you can do it 😊 (IF you use your device for music/guided meditation, you may put it on Do Not Disturb)
- Sit or lie comfortably. Not sure about you, but for me sitting on the floor with my legs crossed is not so comfortable after a few minutes. I prefer to lay down. Some highly recommend “grounding” by sitting or having your feet on the floor and opening your palms upward to increase “energy” flow. If you are comfortable with this, great. If not, don’t fret, it’s ok not to. The energy knows where to go and doing something that makes you feel awkward defeats the purpose of the whole experience.
- Close your eyes and bring your awareness to your breath. Take 2–3 slow and deep breaths. In your mind, try counting to 5 as you inhale, pause for a count of 3, and slowly exhale counting back to 5.
- Breathe normal. As you begin to relax, your breath will automatically slow down (your breath and your brain are in tandem so as one begins to slow, the other will naturally follow).
- When your thoughts begin to scatter, (trust me they will) simply accept it. Don’t judge the fact that you are having thoughts or engage in them (this will only create angst) Just try to “notice” them like a cloud passing by in the sky and then and bring your attention back to your breathing.
- As you breathe, notice your body from the inside. Bring attention to your feet, then to your legs, then your torso, and so on… Being aware of your body puts your awareness into the present moment.
- Do this for about 5 minutes each day and gradually increase time.
When I began to meditate, I did the Chopra Centers 21-day Meditation Challenge, which I found on You Tube, along with thousands of guided meditations and meditation music tracks. I love, love, love using them. I find the best ones use binaural beats and do require headphones, so make sure you have a pair comfortable enough that you can forget you are wearing them. Binaural beats mean the sound in each side is traveling at a different speed. The impact of this is that when the brain processes them, it responds in slower waves that are best for expanded awareness.
Be patient, it takes 14–30 days for the unconscious to absorb new information and accept it as automatic. Meditating regularly will make happiness, gratitude, clarity, focus, and inner-peace your new normal.
By Wendy J. Cope, Positive Change Coach
I was a rebellious teenager and at the age of 20 found myself in a recovery program for drug and alcohol addiction. That was 30 years ago and I have been passionate about the pursuit of personal-growth ever since. At one point in my recovery I felt really “stuck” and needed to do something different. That was my first encounter with coaching. I completed a 12-week program and the changes I experienced were profound. Like more than 5 years of therapy profound.
I felt inspired to become a Positive-Change Coach and later to create a platform that serves both coaches and clients. Hence, I created Life Coach Library. Educating people and getting the message to them that they CAN reach their goals while providing a practical means for great coaches to grow their businesses is what Life Coach Library is all about. If you simply register and fill out a short questionnaire you will receive up to 3 coaching sessions on us!
I hold a bachelor’s degree from Hawaii Pacific University in Justice Administration and I’m currently pursuing a graduate degree in professional counseling from Walden University. Later in my career, I completed a career switcher program and hold a professional teacher’s license in Virginia and Delaware. Additionally, I am a certified hypnotherapist and Reiki master. I completed my coach certification at Coach Training Alliance, and I am committed to personal-growth and life-long learning.