We live in a world that doesn’t stop or slow down. We’re bombarded with technology. We’re always “plugged in.” We sometimes chase temporary pleasure. Inevitably, this can drain physical and mental energy over time. But what can be done to get back on the right track and start living the life we want for ourselves?
For me, the answer was simple: meditation. Meditation is an ancient technique that’s used to control the mind and thoughts with the ultimate goal of attaining a state of peace and equilibrium. A few years ago, I turned to meditation when I was going through a particularly stressful point in my life. I was working long hours, I was constantly glued to my phone, and I didn’t invest in myself as much as I should have. Through meditating, I was able to learn more about my mind’s habits and redirect my energy into more positive ways of being, contributing to a less stressful and more fulfilled life.
With dedication and patience, I found that meditating for as little as five minutes per day nourished my mind and my body and led to santosha, which is a Sanskrit term for contentment and satisfaction. (That's right: Forget Happy, 'Be Content' Instead.)
The benefits of meditation are countless, but here are my top three favorite that will help you start living "happily ever after."
Buddha once said, “Meditation brings wisdom; lack of meditation leaves ignorance. Know well what leads you forward and what holds you back, and choose the path that leads to wisdom.” Meditation is a powerful practice because it encourages introspection — something that is rare in an era consumed with technology and schedules that are packed to the brim. By carving out some time each day to look inward, you can become more aware of your thoughts and feelings.
When you meditate in a quiet space, your internal dialogue runs rampant and is often hard to ignore. Taking some time to listen to your internal soundtrack helps you connect with your authentic self from the inside out. This leads to a more peaceful state of mind and happier disposition. Meditation is an opportunity to realize that you are enough.
Relief From Stress and Anxiety
Relieving stress and anxiety through meditation is one of the most obvious benefits, and I can attest to this. When practiced on a regular basis, it can greatly reduce negative thoughts, helping eliminate symptoms of stress and anxiety by turning off the negative thoughts like when you press a button on the television or the alarm clock.
Having a calm state of mind can help you deal with life’s stresses and challenging moments with more peace. Quiet time accompanied by deep breathing is a simple way to calm anxious nerves and focus on positive thoughts. (You can also use your asana practice for Unlocking the Stress in Your Body.)
Santosha — one of the niyamas of yoga — is about being at peace with and believing that nothing extra is required for happiness. It seems like a simple notion that happiness is built from within, but it can be challenging to achieve. Outside sources can contribute to your positivity, but unless you are happy deep down, your happiness is fleeting.
Meditation allows you to center yourself so you can better appreciate the richness of your life. When you hear your own thoughts, you can better shape your experiences and choose your path forward. You have the power to choose your thoughts, which leads to increased happiness that is everlasting.
How to Get Started
There’s a reason that meditation has been practiced since antiquity. Although meditation is entrenched in the practice of yoga, you can easily incorporate it into your life in as little as five minutes per day. The best part about meditation is that it can be done anywhere!
Be mindful of these tips when starting your own meditation practice.
- Find a quiet place that is free from distractions. Disconnect all technology.
- Erase all expectations and self-judgment. (And here's why you Don't Judge Your Meditation.)
- Meditate at the same time every day (morning is a good time to set a daily intention).
- Remember to breathe deeply.
- Use visualization techniques to help focus on a specific point to more effectively direct your thoughts.
- Commit to practicing regularly—even if it’s just five minutes per day!
Live Happily Ever After
Incorporating meditation into your daily life can have a lasting impact on your physical and mental well-being. The next time you have five spare minutes, press pause and take some time to nurture the happiness within. With a regular commitment, you’ll see the benefits of meditation and how it can contribute to an overall happier life, ever after. (Read on about Trusting the Practice of Meditation.)