Ask any yoga teacher, and they’ll tell you that the time of class when most students leave early is during savasana. The final resting pose is notoriously the hardest, but why? It turns out that it’s unnatural for many of us to lie in quiet silence, even for a few minutes. It’s difficult to stop the thoughts from flooding our minds, and it might feel like we could be doing something more productive. Even though most savasana poses last for only a few minutes (five or less) in yoga studios, a lot of students can’t even handle that amount of quiet and stillness.
Clearly, we’re living in a society where the idea of meditation simply doesn’t seem to fit. It sounds great in practice, but perhaps for people and a time when there was the “luxury” of stillness. In reality, stillness and quiet shouldn’t be a luxury. These shouldn’t be “indulgences” that nobody has the time or aptitude for. However, meditation takes practice and a lot of failure. That’s a lot to put on your plate when you’re uncertain of the benefits.
Here are five ways meditation and self-improvement go hand in hand, and why it should be part of your daily routine:
1. It teaches us concentration and focus. Google researchers have found that the average westerner has an attention span less than a gold fish. Although those claims have been argued, the core truth is the same: We’re seeking constant stimulation and society is telling us that we have to constantly be multi-tasking. That’s unnatural. Concentration and focus are key skills for a happy and productive life. Meditation doesn’t have to take long—even a few minutes each morning (ideally) can set the tone for the whole day.
2. Meditation helps us look inward. Western cultures teach us to always be looking outward. We look to others for validation, for social cues, and for guidance on what we should value, think, and feel. That’s a dangerous path. Meditation encourages us to self-reflect by encouraging the acknowledgment of thoughts before allowing them to leave. Slowing down is the natural antidote to a culture that pushes for constantly going faster.
3. It gives us a positive start to the day. In yogic philosophy and Ayurveda, the ideal time to meditate is first thing in the morning and that makes sense. What we do immediately upon waking can trickle down through the rest of the day. If you don’t have five minutes to spare when you wake up to sit quietly and treat yourself to a meditative practice, your plate is too full. The first moments in the morning should be yours.
4. It lets us be comfortable with silence. We’re looking for non-stop stimulation from having a host of screens in front of us to being unable to go for a run outside without music. Silence is healing. It’s soothing. It’s a natural state, but it does allow our thoughts to be louder. Meditation shows us how to handle silence and to revere it. Unfortunately, in many areas and lifestyles, silence isn’t an option. With meditation, it can be our only chance to immerse ourselves in it. Make sure your meditation space is clean, comfortable, and as quiet as possible (some people do benefit from slight noises such as a metronome to help with breathing and concentration).
5. Meditation gives us a place to call our own. Meditation ultimately leads to a refuge. Many people have the idea that they need to regularly give of themselves to dangerous degrees. This is especially common for women, and particularly mothers. Not having a space of our own, especially when that space is even our own body, is a type of poison. No matter what your living situation is or your personal circumstances, meditation gives us our own space. It teaches us that our physical bodies can be a place of refuge. You don’t need much to put together your own meditation space—simply a comfortable room to sit is sufficient. Ideally, choose a space on a floor, perhaps with a wall for a little extra back support. Meditation can be down reclined, but only for those who are capable of doing so without falling asleep. (Some people can even truly meditate in bed upon waking).
What will you discover through meditation?
Bio: Rachel is a freelance content writer located in San Diego, California. Over the course of her career, she has written a variety of health, parenting, and fitness articles and is currently writing for OhioARC. In her free time, she enjoys running along the beach with her two puppies and practicing yoga.