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Embracing Daily Meditation

by BetterSleep
Aug 26 • 15 min read

Just a few minutes a day of meditation can make a huge difference in your life. The benefits of this ancient practice range from reducing stress, anxiety, and other symptoms of mental health conditions to improving physical health and strengthening spiritual awareness and connection to the universe.

Whatever your goals are for meditation, making it a daily habit can be challenging. Modern life is busy and encourages a full schedule. Finding time to meditate daily isn’t easy, but it is important. To encourage the daily habit, learn more about meditation, how it will benefit your life, and all the different types to try.

Use these tips to find a spot for mediation in your life and schedule. The more you practice meditation, the greater the benefits and the easier it will be to make it a priority.

What Is Meditation?

Meditation is an ancient practice. Most people have heard of it but don’t understand what it means to meditate or to embrace a daily practice. The history of meditation is long and with spiritual origins. Meant initially to deepen spirituality and approach the divine, most people today use it for mental health purposes.

In medicine, meditation is considered a mind-body practice that complements traditional care. While there are many ways to meditate, all practices have common factors:

  • Focused attention
  • Focused, relaxed breathing
  • A tranquil mind
  • A quiet, distraction-free location
  • A comfortable position
  • Willingness to be open to the experienced

Types of Meditation

While all meditation has these characteristics in common, there are several ways to do it. As you build your daily practice, try different types of meditation to find what works best for you.

You might find just one style of meditating gives you the best results, or you might enjoy the variety of using different types. There is no right or wrong way to meditate.

Mindfulness Meditation

Increasingly popular, mindfulness practice comes from the Buddhist tradition. The main focus of this style is on maintaining awareness of the present moment rather than dwelling on the past or future.

Mindfulness means paying attention to how you feel and sense at the moment. As thoughts pass through your mind, you recognize them without judgment and then let them go. Mindfulness is not the same as mindfulness meditation, but the two go hand-in-hand.

Mindfulness practice is simple but not necessarily easy. Most people struggle not to dwell on the past or future, but this is why mindfulness meditation is so useful. It trains your brain to stay in the moment, which is good for mental health.

Mantra Meditation

Using mantras, like meditation, is an ancient practice. It involves chanting a word or phrase as you meditate. The mantra does not have to mean anything. For instance, the ancient term Om is commonly used. It is considered the spiritual sound of the universe rather than a word in the traditional sense.

Changing a word or sound like Om can help you focus, as an object or thought does in focused meditation. It can also be a phrase that helps you set an intention, for example, to build self-confidence or empathy.

Focused Meditation

To do a focused meditation, you concentrate on a single thing. This could be an image, a word, your breathing, or something you touch, like prayer beads. You can use any of the five senses to do focused meditation. While challenging at first, the more you do this kind of meditation, the easier it becomes to focus. Try it if you want to improve your ability to focus and maintain attention in other areas of your life.

Movement Meditations

Many meditation practices involve sitting in stillness, but this is not a requirement. Try a movement meditation if you struggle to sit still or find more peace when active. Examples include yoga, tai chi, and qigong. There are some differences, but these types of meditation involve gentle movements and focused breathing.

You can also meditate while moving in other ways, such as walking or gardening. Any simple movement can help you focus more on the present moment, your breath, and how your body feels as it moves.

Visualization Meditation

While some meditations aim to clear the mind entirely, during a visualization meditation, the goal is to picture a scenario, setting, or particular image. You can simply use visualization to relax, prepare for something, or achieve a goal. This has long been popular in sports. Athletes prepare for and enhance performance by visualizing their bodies moving through an event or game.

Body Scans and Progressive Relaxation

Meditations that focus on the body help you stay in the present moment. During a body scan, you pay attention to sensations in each part, one at a time. During progressive relaxation, you tense and then relax each muscle in the body, again, one at a time.

Kindness and Compassion Meditation

These types of meditations are distinguished by their goals. Also known as loving-kindness meditation, this practice involves focusing on compassion, self-love, and empathy to strengthen them in your life. If you want to be more compassionate toward others or yourself, this will help.

Guided Meditation

Anyone can benefit from guided meditation, but this style is beneficial for newbies. To do this meditation, you listen to someone as they direct your thoughts and actions. If you’re unsure where or how to begin, find guided meditations of all types on BetterSleep.

Nearly any type of meditation can be guided. For example, a soothing voice can direct you through a relaxing visualization to reduce stress or gentle movements for a moving meditation.

These are just a few of the more common and popular meditations. There are many other forms, so explore your options and discover what suits you the most, and will help you stick with it daily.

What Are the Benefits of a Daily Meditation Practice?

Why should you make time for this quiet practice every day? Research suggests that the benefits of meditation are numerous. From managing chronic pain to living with less anxiety, making meditation part of your daily routine will improve your overall well-being.

Reduce Stress Levels

Meditation helps reduce stress, according to numerous studies. Exactly how it works to lower stress is unknown, but there are probably several factors at work. When you meditate, you focus on something in the present moment, such as your breathing or guided imagery.

By doing this, you block out racing thoughts, especially those about the past or future that tend to cause stress and worry. The point of meditating is to calm and relax the mind and body.

It triggers a physical reaction in the body, lowering cortisol, blood pressure, and heart rate, all markers of stress. Meditation can reduce your stress at the moment but also help you cope better with stress as it arises in the future.

Stress leads to a buildup of cortisol and inflammation throughout the body. These can contribute to medical conditions and physical symptoms, including irritable bowel syndrome and fibromyalgia. By controlling and reducing stress with meditation, you can reduce symptoms and episodes of diseases like these.

Manage and Reduce Anxiety

Anxiety often follows stress, but if you have an anxiety disorder, you feel anxious out of proportion to your situation. Living with excess anxiety can be difficult, but meditation helps. Studies show that people with higher anxiety levels benefit more from meditating.

It doesn’t seem to matter what the cause of anxiety is. People with chronic pain, who suffer anxiety and other mental health symptoms, as a result, benefit from meditation, for instance. Workers in stressful jobs find anxiety relief when meditating regularly.

Improve Emotional Health

While meditation is proven to combat specific mental health issues like anxiety, it also contributes to overall emotional wellness in less tangible ways.

It reduces depression, boosts mood, improves self-image, and improves one’s outlook on life in general. Meditation can help you feel better and more emotionally aware.

Boost Attention Span

You’re not alone if you initially find it challenging to focus for more than a few seconds or minutes while meditating. Especially in today’s world of quick media and many distractions, remaining focused on a task can be very difficult.

Sticking with a meditation practice can turn this around, though. People who meditate regularly have improved focus and can give more attention to tasks, completing them with greater accuracy.

This effect goes hand in hand with stress and anxiety. Studies indicate that, by meditating, you can change patterns in the brain that cause your mind to wander and ruminate.

Rumination is a characteristic of anxiety and depression. It occurs when you dwell on unpleasant thoughts and experiences. Even a short practice done daily can improve your attention span significantly.

This has more practical benefits, such as boosting your work output, creative endeavors, or academic performance.

Elevate Your Kindness and Empathy

Sometimes, feeling kind toward other people or acting with compassion can be tough, but doing so makes you happier. Meditations focused on kindness, forgiveness, compassion, and empathy seem to increase these feelings, improving mood and well-being.

You can also apply this principle to yourself. If you struggle with self-image and self-esteem or being kind to yourself, try kindness and self-care meditations. They boost your view of yourself and train your brain to be more compassionate to yourself and others.

Regular meditation focusing on kindness can improve how you relate to others. Your relationships at work and home will benefit.

Slow Memory Loss

Age-related memory loss is average, but it is also problematic. As we get older, we get more forgetful. It’s harder to remember things, even without an illness like Alzheimer’s. Researchers have found that meditation improves age-related memory loss in older adults given neuropsychological tests.

There is also evidence that abnormal memory loss, like dementia, can improve with regular meditation practice. It also helps these patients cope with the stress of living with their conditions.

It doesn’t matter which type of meditation you use; you do it regularly. And although the research involves older adults, anyone can benefit and potentially even slow age-related memory loss.

Support Addiction Treatment

Meditation alone cannot combat addiction, but it might help. Because meditation requires focus and mental discipline, regular practice can help you gain control over addiction. Meditation also improves self-awareness, which means you can better identify and manage triggers for addiction.

Addictive behaviors are not limited to the use of drugs and alcohol. Several studies have shown that meditation can help you control emotional and binge eating. Mindfulness is beneficial for managing addiction.

Sleep Better

It is well known that meditation is good for emotional health, but meditation benefits both mental and physical health. Among the many health benefits is improved sleep quality.

The stress reduction and improvements in anxiety levels that you get from meditation support better sleep duration and quality.

Some meditations work best as part of a bedtime routine. This isn’t necessary to get the effect, though. If you meditate daily, at any time, you should see improvements in your overall sleep. You should be able to fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.

Manage Pain

Many people live with chronic pain from a variety of causes. Pain is limiting, uncomfortable, and damaging to mental health. It is also difficult to treat and manage. With meditation, you might be able to control your perception of pain.

Practicing meditation can also reduce the anxiety and depression that often accompanies chronic pain.

Lower Blood Pressure

If you struggle with high blood pressure, consider trying meditation as a supplement to medical care. High blood pressure is a silent killer because it causes no symptoms but contributes to heart disease and strokes.

According to studies, older patients and those with higher blood pressure levels benefit from regular meditation. It shouldn’t be a substitute for medical care from a doctor, but there are no risks to adding mindfulness meditation to your daily routine for managing hypertension.

Change Your Brain for the Better

The physical and mental effects of meditation merge to produce neurological benefits. In other words, meditation can change your brain in positive ways. Evidence comes from many studies, including mindfulness training and mindfulness-based cognitive therapy to treat depression.

Not all patients with depression respond to standard treatments, so researchers have tried alternative and integrative health practices, including meditation therapies.

Research suggests that the effects of mindfulness meditation on the brain scanned participants’ brains while meditating and doing other tasks. They found that people who meditate regularly exhibit changes in the brain even when they are not meditating.

The changes triggered by regular mindfulness meditation included less activation in the amygdala. This is the part of the brain that responds to stress. Less activity means a person is coping better with stress or a dangerous, stressful situation.

Tips for Making Meditation a Daily Habit

Meditation comes in many forms and provides abundant benefits, so why doesn’t everyone do it? Although it is accessible to just about anyone, meditation is a discipline that requires time, commitment, and consistency.

Most people have busy schedules. Between work, kids, pets, fitness, and chores, it’s hard to justify spending a chunk of daily time sitting quietly. It feels like doing nothing, even though the benefits to health and happiness are proven.

The first step in making a daily meditation habit is to recognize what it can bring into your life and prioritize it. Think of other habits you make time for because of the tangible benefits: eating well, going to the gym, and going to bed at a reasonable time. Meditation deserves a place among these healthy habits. Here are some ways you can make it happen:

Find a Purpose

Knowing the benefits of meditation might not be enough to motivate you to do it. It needs to be more personal. Take some time to reflect on what you hope to get from a regular practice. Do you struggle with anxiety and hope to find a way to tame it? Is your stress level increasing with no relief in sight? Are you interested in developing greater spiritual awareness?

Find the purpose that for you is personal, meaningful, and authentic. The generic idea of improving wellness isn’t enough. Consider the very specific ways meditation could make your life better.

Start from the Beginning

One of the biggest roadblocks to a meditative practice is simply getting started. If you’re new to meditation, that first session might seem insurmountable. You don’t know what it will be like, how to do it, or even if you can. Start with a short and simple practice to get an idea of how doable this is:

  • Find somewhere to sit comfortably with minimal distractions and no chance of interruptions.
  • Set a timer on your phone or watch and commit to meditating for that short period of time.
  • As you sit with good meditation posture, feel the sensations in your body and bring your awareness to them.
  • Focus on your breath as it goes in and out.
  • Notice your mind wandering, as it inevitably will, and bring the focus back to your body and breathing.
  • Avoid judging any of those stray thoughts. Simply recognize them and put your attention back on the meditation. Your self-control will improve as you practice.

When the timer goes off, you’re done. There is no need to be too ambitious on your first try. Go for one minute or five minutes, no more. The point is just to get started. Once you have this first meditation under your belt, you’re on the way to a daily practice.

Tie Meditation to Another Daily Habit

Habits are both hard to form and hard to break. One of the secrets to creating new habits is to tie them to existing habits. What do you do every single day without thinking? It could be reading, brushing your teeth, or showering.

Do your daily meditation before or after one of your existing habits, which will act as a trigger. If you meditate after brushing your teeth at night, for instance, brushing your teeth will remind you of the new habit. Tie them together to trigger your brain and signal to it that it’s time to meditate.

After about a week, you will begin to notice that doing one activity reminds you to do the other. Before you know it, you have a new, healthy habit.

Tie Meditation to a Reward

Another practical way to build a habit into your routine is to tie it to a reward. When you reward yourself for doing something, it begins to train the brain to want to do that thing more. It’s a style of psychological training called positive reinforcement. Reinforce the good habit with something you like.

Of course, avoiding derailing healthy habits with bad ones is important. Make the reward enjoyable but also healthy. For instance, rather than rewarding a meditation session with a glass of wine or a pint of ice cream, tie it to a cup of your favorite herbal tea or 30 minutes watching your latest favorite TV show.

Eventually, you should begin to notice that the real reward is how meditation makes you feel. It should relieve stress, drain anxiety and tension, and boost your mood, all potent rewards for meditating for a few minutes.

Adjust Your Environment for Meditation

We are all products of our environment as much as our habits. And habits are either encouraged or discouraged by our environment. In which scenario are you more likely to meditate regularly?

A quiet, orderly home with a roommate who does yoga daily or a house with multiple roommates who like to party every night?

You don’t have to make extreme changes to your environment. Simply make it more conducive to meditating. For example, if you live with other people, create a quiet and comfortable spot where you can sit without distractions.

Even if the only option is your closet, having this space increases the chances you’ll follow through with daily meditation sessions.

Start a Streak

Gamifying healthy habits can be highly motivating. Consider the popular fitness streak. People challenge themselves and others on social media to do 20 pushups daily or run or walk one mile daily. The streak means never missing a day.

A streak can be a powerful motivator for maintaining habits, especially when you see it on paper or digitally. Keep a journal or calendar to record your meditation streak.

Commit to just a few minutes a day and write it down or make a big red X on the calendar each time you do it. Once you see that series of unbroken records of accomplishments, you won’t want to break the streak.

Meditate Whenever and Wherever

In a perfect world, you would have a chunk of time and a dedicated space to meditate daily. In real life, that isn’t realistic for most people. To truly embrace meditation as a daily occurrence, be open to fitting it in wherever and whenever you can.

Meditation does not have to be restricted to a long session seated in a quiet and peaceful spot. Especially as you get better at it, you can meditate whenever you have a few minutes to spare, no matter where you are.

You don’t even need to sit still to meditate. Try a walking meditation on your lunch break, for instance. Or, if you have a few moments but can’t leave your desk, do it right there. Sneak off to the supply closet for five minutes for a short session.

As you start your practice, finding a quiet, dedicated space will help you develop your skills. But once you get rolling, you should find that you don’t need total quiet or a lack of distraction to meditate. This is when you know you have begun to master the art of focus.

Let Go of Perfection

The greatest benefits of meditation come from making it a part of your daily life, but it doesn’t always have to be a perfect experience. To practice meditation and reap the rewards, you do not have to have a great, life-changing experience or valuable insight every time.

Some days, your practice might be a rushed two-minute session. On other days, it will be more meaningful. Expecting perfection and not achieving it will only be detrimental to your mental health. Be patient with and forgiving of yourself. Consistency is much more important than perfection.

The Best Meditations to Try Now

It’s important to start small when learning to embrace meditation. If you dive right in with a long or challenging style of meditation, you might get frustrated and give up before you start to see the benefits.

Start your regular meditation practice with these simple, beginner-friendly guided sessions available on BetterSleep:

  • One-Minute Grounding Meditation. This is a great place to start. It’s short and sweet and will show you how easy it is to meditate. There are no special tricks here, just a quick guided session focused on grounding to relieve stress at the moment.
  • The Mindful Breath. Try this ten-minute meditation to learn to be more mindful and to practice focusing on the present. It’s a nice introduction to what it means to be mindful. The soothing voice will guide your thoughts and use your breathing to keep your attention at the moment.
  • Arriving into Presence. This is another useful mindfulness meditation that is short and doable for beginners. You will pay attention to your five senses and everything around you during the session in just nine minutes. This short practice will help you build more mindfulness in every aspect of your life.
  • Resting Awareness for Stress. If stress reduction is your particular goal or purpose for embracing daily meditation, try this 12-minute session. It focuses on awareness and relaxation to release the stress of the day.
  • Morning Affirmation. Morning is a great time to schedule your daily meditations. A morning session sets a positive tone for the day and ties your new habit to existing ones, like getting up, exercising, or showering. This morning affirmation is just nine minutes long and helps you see the possibilities for the coming day.

Doing meditation daily has many positive benefits for psychological well-being, physical health, stress, and overall wellness. Don’t let roadblocks get in the way of starting and sticking with it. To practice meditation is a privilege and a gift to yourself. Download BetterSleep and try it as your mindfulness meditation app for free today!

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