“The only Zen you find on the tops of mountains is the Zen you bring up there.” ~Robert M. Pirsig
Why meditate is so important?
On one level, meditation is a tool.
It can help reduce stress, fosters physical health, helps with chronic pain, can make you sleep better, feel happier, be more peaceful, as well as be more present.
Meditation has helped me to become more peaceful, more focused, less worried about discomfort, more appreciative and attentive to everything in my life. I’m far from perfect, but it has helped me come a long way.
But on a deeper level, meditation is a doorway into the unknown. It can help us get a sense of the mystery of who we are.
When you start meditating, you’ll notice how unruly the mind is.
I remember being quite shocked by this!
Meditation has helped me understand my own mind. Before I started meditating, I never thought about what was going on inside my head — it would just happen, and I would follow its commands like an automaton. These days, all of that still happens, but more and more, I am aware of what’s going on. I can make a choice about whether to follow the commands. I understand myself better (not completely, but better), and that has given me increased flexibility and freedom.
Why Start Your Day With Meditation?
So why should you start your day with meditation and how can it help? First of all, nearly every great meditation tradition recommends meditating in early hours of the morning. There are a lot of good reasons for meditating in the morning.
First, your mind is still quiet when you wake up.
Second, meditation is to your mind what yoga or exercise is to your body. It’s like giving your brain an oil change before heading out onto the race track of your day. It calms your monkey mind.
Third, the world around you is still quiet. That kind of silence is deeply restorative and nourishing for your body, mind, and spirit.
Fourth, when you enter the day having bathed in the bright light of meditation, you feel free. It’s amazing what this can do for your outlook on the world. You can handle everything life throws in your path.
Fifth, meditation can make you more productive. If you start the day cultivating a mood of calm, confidence, and focus, it’s amazing how that can help you stay on point all day long.
What Does The Science Say?
According to the research, starting your day with meditation is likely to help you in a number ways. Of course there are any number of meditative approaches and techniques, and in this instance, we are focusing on guided morning meditations.
One of the benefits I love best is how meditation can make you more productive during your day.
In 2012 the University of Washington published one of the most popular study on this topic. The research revealed that so called knowledge workers who trained in mindfulness stayed on tasks longer and made fewer task switches–and felt better about it–than a group without that training. They also demonstrated better memory for the tasks performed.
Georgetown University and the University of Pennsylvania published a fascinating study showing that marines who trained in mindfulness demonstrated betterworking memory capacity (WMC) under highly stressful conditions than non-meditators.
What is WMC? You and I use it every day. We use our WMC to manage our cognitive demands and regulate our emotions.
To put it simply, robust WMC keeps you focused–more productive–under stress. If you think about the Marines in action, you can imagine how important this capacity is during life-threatening situations when it’s important to think on your feet. For better or for worse, their lives depend on it.
Next Steps For You
I first began six or seven months ago, so it does take time to build a balanced morning practice. But it’s so worth it to start with just one small change today. There’s nothing like starting your day off feeling fabulous, physically and mentally.