Why You Should Make Meditation A Daily Habit

Northwestern Medicine
Health and Wellness July 12, 2017
The practice of meditation has been around for centuries. Even before experts knew of the significance on the mind and body, people around the world still took time out of their day to sit down, relax, and reflect.

The practice benefits many different parts of the body, mind and soul. According to research, practicing daily meditation can improve the immune system, lower blood pressure, increase metabolism, as well as lower the feeling of physical pain and heart complication risks. 

Another significant change meditation can bring is an increase in grey matter in the brain. This grey matter increases positive emotions, helps with emotional stability, as well as improve focus and energy.

Meditation also has many mental benefits, such as improving memory and boosting creativity. It can also increase your capacity to feel sympathy and compassion.

“There is research indicating that meditation can improve depression, anxiety, and stress as well as increases our overall well-being,” said Inger Burnett-Zeigler, PhD, psychologist at Northwestern Medicine. “Meditation can also benefit those with chronic health conditions such as hypertension or diabetes.”

One of the biggest blocks in meditation is people not feeling like they can get themselves in a “zen” mood. Dr. Burnett-Zeigler recommends some tips to help you feel more focused and at peace:
• Listen to music that makes you feel happy.
• Journal or free-write. Writing out your thoughts can help the mind process all of the day’s events. Putting your thoughts and feelings down on paper can also help relieve the stress of having them bottled up.
• Count your breaths. It is an easy way to help you clear your mind and focus yourself in the here and now.
• Make yourself comfortable. There is no rule saying meditation only works if you’re sitting cross-legged on a pillow. Find a spot, possibly in the sun, where you feel relaxed and at peace.
• Anything else that you consider a mindful activity, such as taking a walk, cooking or knitting.

“Start small [when first starting to meditate], said Dr. Burnett-Zeigler. “I tell my patients to start by sitting still as long as they can tolerate it, even if it is only for a few minutes. Then, pay attention to your mind and body, and notice your breath.”

Meditation should feel like a reward. As you sit down and begin to ease away from the stress of the day, think to yourself, “I have made it through the day. I deserve this time to breathe and let go.”

The most effective way to feel the benefits of meditation is to make it a daily habit. Schedule a few minutes of time each day and try to make it a priority.
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