The information on this post is from my own first-hand experience following a year of using the Headspace iPhone app. If you are new to meditation, and you have any concerns about the practice, please consult a mindfulness teacher or a mental health professional before you start.
The benefits of meditation
A few years ago, I signed up to some relaxation and yoga classes in a local hall. I also went along to the University of Oxford Meditation Society. On both occasions, I struggled to relax in a room full of people. I also found sitting on the floor gave me cramp. Not very zen!
After these failed attempts, I was convinced that mediation was not for me. I was, therefore, intrigued when a friend recommended the Headspace app, which she said you can use in the comfort of your own home.
One year on and I’m thrilled to say that I have been keeping up with my meditation practice. So, today I’m sharing the benefits I’ve found following a year of meditation.
1. Increased awareness of how I feel
I’ve found it insightful to stop and observe my thoughts. Sometimes I feel busy, but when I meditate, I’m surprised to find my mind is peaceful. I’m beginning to understand that there’s a difference between how I’m feeling and how I think I’m feeling. There’s a space between me and my thoughts, and this is something I wasn’t aware of before meditation.
2. Finding some space in my day
Space in my home and in my diary make me feel calm and at ease. Through meditation, I’ve been able to find some space even when there’s too much to do. The time gives me a welcomed pause when I’m juggling a lot of things. When life gets busy, it’s wonderful to take a break and check in with how I’m feeling.
3. Easing unnecessary worry
Before I began meditating, I would occasionally wake up in the middle of the night and worry about things. One of the techniques I’ve learnt from the Headspace app is to acknowledge the thought and gently move my attention to my breath. When I find myself worrying, and I practice this technique, I feel an immediate sense of ease in my body. I wish I’d learnt this technique at school because it may have eliminated many sleepless nights!
4. Learning to be present
My daily meditation practice is helping me to be more present in my everyday life. Focusing on my breath and the world around me helps me to stop thinking about the past or the future. I’m sure this has increased my gratitude for the simple everyday moments.
5. Enjoying having nothing to do
With a full-time job and an active social life, I rarely have a moment to myself. I, therefore, enjoy having a daily ritual that involves pressing pause and checking in with how I’m feeling. I’m grateful for the stillness and the sense of peace. It’s a joy to stop for a moment and have nothing to do.
If you meditate and you’ve experienced some benefits from your meditation practice, please feel free to share them in the comments. For further information, you could visit the Headspace website where you’ll find the science-backed benefits of meditation. I also found the book Mindfulness: A Practical Guide to Finding Peace in a Frantic World by Mark Williams and Danny Penman helpful. And I’ve been working my way through the books by Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh.
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