Mindfulness, meditation, and quotes about gratitude are on the tip of everyone’s tongue these days. Have you ever thought about how often you are fully present in your own life? When are you simply thinking about what you are doing in this current moment? If you haven’t considered meditation as a daily ritual, then perhaps you are misunderstanding what the practice really means, and how it can help you live a more fulfilling life in general.
Why is meditation so popular right now?
Meditation and mindfulness practices have been around for thousands of years. Before the stress of work deadlines or sick kids, our ancestors used mindfulness as a way to connect deeper with their spirituality. This may seem too far out there for you, and admittedly I started out that way, too. However, there has been countless research done on the effects of mindfulness and meditation on the brain, and how you can literally rewire neurons to fire differently after consistently meditating. Meditating consistently can help improve how our bodies respond to stress, process that stress, and then recover from it.
This can be especially helpful in the case of poor metabolic health. Consistent meditation and mindful eating improved blood sugar levels along with their triglyceride:HDL ratio in participants of this UCSF study. So maybe our ancestors were onto something.
When I first started practicing mindfulness and meditation, it felt overwhelming. I didn’t want to be sitting quietly with my own thoughts (there were a lot of them). Instead of committing to a full 30 minutes of meditation each day, I focused on the shortest time frame I could get through. Some days, that was 5 minutes.
Stack it with something else you already do
Since those early days, I’ve found that disconnecting from the mental chatter of daily life is easier while performing a simple activity.
Do you take your dog for a walk every morning? Instead of burying yourself in reading emails or scrolling on social media, this is the perfect time to disconnect. You can either leave your phone at home or put it on airplane mode. On your walk, pay attention to the sounds, smells, and sights around you, looking for one or two that brings you a sense of calm.
Mindfulness doesn’t have to be seated on the floor on a pillow in silence.
Be mindful of small moments, like eating
Another way to practice daily mindfulness is to more intentionally enjoy your meals, or at least the act of eating.
Put away all distractions (including your laptop, phone, and TV), sit down, and pay attention to your food. Eating with intentionality can feel uncomfortable, as we are so conditioned to be on the go. Look at the different colors on your plate, and smell the different smells that come together to make your meal. Mindful eating can help improve digestion, blood sugar regulation, and overall satisfaction with your meals.
Satisfaction with meals helps to curb overeating, which can help if you struggle with overeating.
Try it guided
Who says you have to sit in silence to try meditation? Some great, professionally-produced meditation products exist that can guide you through a meditation session so you don’t have to think about it on your own. You can find them for free on YouTube or other apps, or pay for a subscription to get even more options. My favorite app for meditation is the Calm App.
When it comes to practicing mindfulness, appreciating small “wins” is the key. Remember to praise yourself for any and all successes, and don’t hold yourself to anyone else’s standards. As mindfulness becomes a way of life, so, too, will the inspiration to practice in bigger ways begin to flow.