What happens when you meditate every day?
It started out as a simple goal – beginning a meditation practice during my then-train commute as a way to unwind after a busy day at work.
A crowded train during rush hour might not seem like the tranquil setting one associates with meditating. But meditation can be done anytime, anywhere with or without a meditation app.
For me, I learned to block out the chatter of the other passengers and focus on my breath while following the guided meditation. Along the way, I began noticing some positive changes in my health. Turns out, there are many health benefits of meditation.
“Meditation is an easy, inexpensive way to take care of yourself. Studies have shown a regular mindfulness practice can offer a host of health benefits from improving sleep to lowering blood pressure,” says Dr. Cassandra Edwards at Aurora Health Center in Waukesha, WI.
Here’s some of the health benefits I’ve gained from my 1,000 consecutive days of meditation:
Lowering stress: Between raising a small human and working a full-time job, it’s natural to be stressed most days.
“Too much stress can lead to an increase of the stress hormone cortisol, which can contribute to many health issues such as poor sleep or trouble concentrating,” says Dr. Edwards.
A few months into my mindfulness practice, I shifted my response to stressful situations. Instead of jumping in with my first reaction, I began pausing and taking a breath before responding. This approach helps me feel more in control on stressful days.
Controlling anxiety: A common theme in meditation is impermanence – the concept that situations, both good and bad, only last for a limited time. Recognizing the temporary nature of most things helped me reframe my thoughts. In time, I began lowering my anxiety by reminding myself that everything – even a worldwide pandemic – will eventually end rather than spending days or weeks worrying about something that’s usually beyond my control.
Creating a self-care routine: My meditation practice quietly transitioned into a daily self-care routine. On busy days, I might do a two-minute breathing exercise instead of my usual 10-minute meditation. The important thing is I make time every day to recharge so I can be at my best to take care of those who count on me.
Want to give meditation a try? Many meditation apps, including the LiveWell with Advocate Aurora Health app, offer free meditation exercises. Or try sitting in a quiet spot for a few minutes and being mindful of your breath flowing in and out.
About the Author
Vicki Martinka Petersen, health enews contributor, is a digital copywriter on the content team at Advocate Aurora Health. A former newspaper reporter, she’s worked in health care communications for the last decade. In her spare time, Vicki enjoys tackling her to be read pile, trying new recipes, meditating, and planning fun activities to do in the Chicago area with her husband and son.