As a therapist who helps people with issues like anxiety and sleep, I want to focus on one of the most helpful things we can all do for ourselves: meditation.
You already know all about the benefits of meditation. Yup, you’ve heard how meditation helps the brain, helps you relax, it provides stress relief and can even be good for your health. So, why is it so hard to get started with meditation? In fact, when I bring up the idea to clients in my practice, I am often met with eye rolls and sometimes even hostility.
These are the most common reasons that I hear from clients about why they don’t meditate:
I don’t have time
When you work or have children, it can indeed be hard to find time. But somehow we have time to post on social media and binge-watch Netflix shows. Is it really impossible to find 10-20 extra minutes per day? I think this can be something we automatically tell ourselves, because we are afraid to change anything about our current routine.
I can’t get my mind to quiet down
This is something I hear a lot. And in fact it’s more of a reason to meditate than not to. Having a busy mind is normal and it’s hard for everyone to quiet their mind, at first. It gets easier in time. Meditation is like working out, the more you do it, the easier it gets. And the easier it gets to fit into your routine.
I don’t think it’s going to work
Well, the statistics prove otherwise. Studies show the meditation improves everything from anxiety & depression to sleep and physical illness. We know meditation helps with stress relief. UMass has some impressive research with their mindfulness based stress reduction program. And there are many studies out there showing how meditation can be beneficial when practiced regularly. Meditation is a proven technique for medication-free anxiety relief.
If I start meditating, then I have to buy crystals and do other “new age” type things
Ok, I have actually heard this before. And if you want to explore crystals, go for it. But if you want to start meditating and leave it at that, of course that’s ok too. Start by googling a list of CEOs and entrepreneurs who meditate and you will see the list is long and impressive. This is something that successful people do because it helps.
Making changes to our habits and routines can be hard, but typically the worst part is anticipation of change. Once we start working out or eating right, for example, it gets easier to stick with it. Meditation is free, it’s accessible and you can do it anywhere. The trick it figuring out how to fit it into your routine and how to stick with it. You can find a myriad of meditation apps that are available for free, which makes it even easier to get started. Once you experience stress and anxiety relief from meditation, you will want to keep meditating.
One of the biggest benefits of meditation is that it can help us engage our parasympathetic nervous system. Many people spend too much time stuck in the “fight or flight” state and meditation is one easy way to wind down the arousal and calm anxious thoughts. Meditation can also be very beneficial for those experiencing problems sleeping and it can be a great addition to any kind of therapy and insomnia treatment. Try it and see what happens to your mood and your sleep.