Why Should You Meditate?

And resources to Get You Started

By Pamela Gliatis

 

Snap yo fingers! Yeah, yeah, wat! Take a breath! This is what I imagined Lil Jon’s Total Meditation album would sound like. All jokes aside, his album is helpful for a lot of people. While there are moments of listening to his tracks where you can’t help but giggle, it is something that helps people become more aware of the importance of meditation and mindfulness.

Why is meditation so important? 

Meditation can have a positive effect on many other aspects of our emotional and physical well-being. According to the Mayo Clinic, meditation is one of the best ways to deal with stress. When you meditate, you can clear away the information overload that builds up every day, which contributes to your stress. The emotional and physical benefits of meditation include reducing negative feelings, fostering creativity, lowering blood pressure, improving sleep, building skills to manage your stress, increasing self-awareness, and focusing on the present. This is especially important for people who have conditions such as heart issues, anxiety, depression, cancer, high blood pressure, chronic pain, sleep problems, gut issues, and tension headaches since meditation can help manage the symptoms of all of these conditions.

Meditation with Lovely Cat

Books to educate you on meditation and its benefits

One source that I dived into is the book Becoming Supernatural written by Dr. Joe Dispenza, who is a world-renowned expert, researcher, educator, and author when it comes to rewiring your brain and reconditioning your body to make lasting changes. He studied neuroscience, epigenetics, and quantum physics to understand spontaneous remissions and how they occur. With that knowledge, he helps people heal themselves of illnesses, chronic conditions, and terminal diseases. One of his biggest advocacies for lifestyle changes and healing ourselves is through meditation and the various ways of doing so. I had chronic migraines and back pains for years that wouldn’t go away with medicine, physical therapy, or various holistic medical therapies. This book became my last attempt to resolve my issues. Once I started meditating consistently, my migraines and back pains went away slowly within 6 months to a year. Nowadays, I don’t meditate daily, but this practice taught me to be mindful daily. I now notice when my migraines or other body pains will flare up, when to listen to my body, and when to slow down and go back to meditating when needed.

Another book that I discovered is Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art by James Nestor. The author talks about how it doesn’t matter what healthy lifestyle changes you make or how young you may be if you aren’t breathing properly. Nestor is a journalist who travels the world to find out why our species has lost the ability to breathe correctly and how to fix that. Through modern research, he also finds that making adjustments to the way we inhale and exhale can not only jump-start athletic performance but can also rejuvenate internal organs, heal our bodies, help to stop snoring and asthma, cure autoimmune diseases, and even straighten scoliotic spines. At one point, I was snoring so badly that some people who overheard me thought I may have sleep apnea. As a result, I picked up this book to do my own research on why that was happening, and since then, I have become more mindful of my breathing throughout the day. After a while, I snored less and less as time went on. It is as simple as being more mindful and taking steps to focus on your breathing when necessary to avoid any health problems that could arise because we don’t work on our health problems until we become sick and unhealthy. 

Meditation Apps

Meditation apps are a great way to help you get started. When you google the highest rated apps to use for meditation, “Calm” and “Headspace” seem to come up as the best apps on the market. However, “Insight Timer” is currently the most used mental wellness and meditation app in the world, with 26 million users, while “Calm” has 4 million paid subscribers and provides its services to 20 million workers. The difference between “Calm” and “Insight Timer” is that while they both offer premium subscriptions, “Insight Timer” is free for the most part, while “Calm” and “Headspace” are free for only a small portion of the app’s content. On “Insight Timer,” you can access over 200,000 tracks for free, such as singing bowls, nature sounds, various calming sounds, and guided meditations. They offer additional perks on their premium subscription, such as listening offline and providing high-quality audio. I  have used the free portion of “Insight Timer” since I started practicing meditation several years ago, and it has the most beautiful tracks you can listen to, especially tracks that have singing bowls or nature sounds of all kinds. On nights that I couldn’t sleep, I would listen to an hour-long track on “Insight Timer,” and I was peacefully asleep within 20 minutes. For those unsure of how to start meditating, “Insight Timer” also has guided meditation tracks that you can follow along to at the beginning of your meditation practice.

The perfect meditation spot in the Atlantic Forest. Breathing, clearing my head and letting go.

Sound Baths

Sound baths are also another type of meditation. They do not involve water or a bath, but instead, it is having your body surrounded by many kinds of sounds. Traditional sound bath experiences usually have Tibetan singing bowls as well as other similar instruments that make different types of sounds after being struck by mallets. From my own experience, it is usually a group setting where many of us lay on our own personal mats, with pillows and blankets if needed. The lights are dim enough for us to relax our bodies and go into meditation as the sound bowls and gongs vibrate throughout the room, washing away energies from our bodies, which then causes us to relax in ways that we normally wouldn’t. I have felt the sounds vibrate in my body, especially when they hit the gongs, which are very powerful. Every single time I attended a sound bath, I always left feeling refreshed and relaxed as if I took a nap and vacation all at the same time. It is especially beneficial for those who deal with conditions such as PTSD, depression, and anxiety, for it can help decrease your heart rate and make you feel much more relaxed. You can search online for local sound baths to attend one, but you can also look on YouTube for videos of singing bowls or sound baths to listen to in your own time in your own space.

Moving Meditation

Yoga is a popular form of meditation. Yoga is also what we call moving meditation. This is especially beneficial for people who prefer to also move their bodies. While there are many different types of yoga, Hatha yoga has the practice of asana, which is what allows you to sit still for a period of time meditating, but also has movement of some sort when you can stretch your body. Regardless, any type of yoga is considered a source of meditation that you can come back to, for it teaches you to be mindful of your breath as you move around. There are additional benefits from trying out yoga, for it is also great for improving your health, flexibility, and balance. I especially love doing yoga as a way to destress and release any kind of muscle tension going on in my body. 

A woman doing a yoga pose

YouTube, the ultimate free source

Don’t feel like going to a sound bath? No problem, you can search for a sound bath or singing bowls video on youtube and do it at home. The same applies to yoga sessions as well. If you’re looking for guided meditations or various meditation sounds, you can easily search for these as well. There are plenty of meditation sources available on YouTube. At the end of the day, all of these resources are at your fingertips, and it is up to you how you would like to start prioritizing your meditation practice. 

Starting a new habit of meditating can change your life for the better. Even just taking a walk in nature and being mindful of what’s around you and your breathing can be another form of meditation. Exercise can be a form of meditation. Journaling is another form of meditation. The key is being mindful, taking a moment to check in with yourself and to breathe. Remember the 21/90 rule: It takes 21 days to build a habit and 90 days to build a lifestyle.

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