Daily meditation practice doesn’t have to be complicated—even a short 2-5 minute meditation performed each day has many benefits that compound over time.
There is no prescribed way to meditate. There are many different methods of meditation to accommodate individual preferences. For beginners, it’s best to start by focusing on the breath and breathing into all parts of the body to create space and calm.
Meditation is a state of mind, not an activity. Meditation may be performed sitting, laying down, walking, reading, writing, or performing other tasks that help calm the body and mind. Meditation doesn’t necessarily mean sitting on your yoga mat; we can meditate while washing the dishes, picking our kids up from school, waiting in line at the grocer, or taking out the garbage.
How long you meditate each day depends on your level and the style of meditation you choose. Ultimately, it depends upon the practitioner. If you’re tight on time, 10-minutes of meditation is better than skipping it altogether. If you’re new to meditating, start with 5-10 minutes and add a minute or two each day.
If you’re not convinced that meditation is something you should include in your daily routine, read on to see the mental, physical, and emotional support meditation provides.
5 Reasons to Cultivate a Meditation Practice
Meditation works with the vagal tone, which is the activity of the vagus nerve.
The vagus nerve connects to the body’s principal organs, including the stomach, liver, heart, lungs, and brain, and controls the heart rate. We influence the vagus nerve by breathing deeply and slowing down the heart rate. A slower heart rate slows down the body’s vital processes, including the busyness of the mind.
Theta waves, the brainwaves associated with healing and the subconscious’s powers, are released during meditation, dreaming, and deep sleep.
When theta waves are more active during meditation, it’s possible that the mind and body experience rejuvenation and growth. Theta waves help prevent burnout and healing from mental and physical stressors and are the source of our more creative and intuitive processes.
The release of feel-good hormones serotonin and dopamine during meditation may help manage anxiety and intense emotions. The lessening of the stress hormone cortisol reduces tension and angst.
Meditation boosts the immune system by decreasing the stressors on the body.
When we hit the burnt-out zone, our immune system takes the hit and causes the body to become inflamed as a means to protect itself. Stress causes the body to stay in fight or flight mode, which affects the mind and body. Meditation shifts the body from fight or flight, the sympathetic nervous system, into rest and digest, a function of the parasympathetic nervous system. It’s in rest and digest mode to recover and restore to a more balanced state.
The muscles relax when we meditate. Where yoga actively stretches to release the muscles, meditation creates space for muscles to soften and relax. Deeper breathing and stillness slow the body’s processes down, so we might passively release any tension we’re holding in the body or mind.
4 Meditations for Embodied Awareness
Take one of the new meditation classes on Practice with Clara to embody awareness and encourage a state of calm in your body and mind.
These meditations are 15-25 minutes long and offer visualization, mantra, affirmation, and self-reflection practices.