CONTRIBUTED // why you should be meditating
It's the start of a new year, a clean slate for self-improvement and the perfect time to finally start doing all the things we swore we would do last year (and likely the year before that too). Most new year's resolutions include becoming healthier, but we tend to focus on food and exercise while neglecting something very important – the health of our mind.
If you haven't meditated before, you're probably a little skeptical. You might think it's just for tree-hugging, kale-loving, free spirits. But would you think the same thing about someone who exercises by going for walks? No, you wouldn't. Meditation should be as common and as natural as going for a walk. And just like walking, meditation helps to clear your mind and it offers a plethora of benefits for your wellbeing.
Perhaps the biggest benefit of meditation is that it can reduce your stress and anxiety, which we all seem to be dealing with these days. Let's face it, between the frigid political climate and our obsession with social media and technology, we could all calm the eff down. Think of meditation as a reboot for your scattered brain.
Meditation has many physical benefits, because if our mind is calm we reduce our risk for things like heart disease and high blood pressure. We're also more likely to get a good night's sleep, which everyone could likely use after the holiday madness.
You won't be the only one to benefit from meditation, everyone around you will benefit too because you will be more pleasant to be around. All those little things that normally stress you out will be less likely to bother you, which means you will be less likely to snap at your spouse, your kids, your co-workers, etc.
ANYONE CAN DO IT
If you want to meditate but you don't know what to do, there are tons of videos and apps for guided meditation where someone will tell you exactly what to do. You just sit there, close your eyes and follow their instructions.
Do a search on YouTube or in the App Store for guided meditation and you will have plenty of options to choose from. A few of my favourites are Lilou Mace videos on YouTube and the app 10% Happier by Nightline and Good Morning America weekend anchor Dan Harris, who began meditating after he had a panic attack on-air in 2004.
One of the best things about meditation is that it's extremely convenient to do. You don't have to buy any expensive equipment and you don't have to drive somewhere to do it, you can do it in the comfort of your own home. This is probably too much information, but one of the most popular places I've ever meditated has been in my bathroom, sitting on the toilet. Sure, it's not glamorous but that's the reality of life, especially when you have young kids.
And the beauty of meditation is that you can commit as much or as little time as you have available and you're going to get something out of it. Experts say twenty minutes is ideal but even if you only have one minute, it's better than not meditating at all.
KIDS CAN (AND SHOULD) DO IT TOO
While meditation is mostly geared towards stressed out adults, there are many benefits for kids to be meditating too. Schools are beginning to incorporate meditation into the curriculum because research has shown that it can help children with attention and behaviour problems and, like adults, it helps them to be less stressed.
Daniel Tiger even taught my toddler the very basics of mindful breathing in an episode where he sang "When you get so mad that you want to roar, just take a deep breath and count to 4."
PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT
The first few times you sit down to meditate, it will probably feel a little odd. It's hard to just close your eyes and shut your brain off but the more you do it, the more natural it will feel. And the more often you do it, the more likely you are to make it a part of your daily routine, even if the only time you can squeeze it into your hectic schedule is while you're sitting on the toilet at 6am before you jump in the shower.
Melissa Hopper lives in Ontario, Canada with her husband and two young children. She is the office manager at a publishing company and, formerly a newspaper columnist, but has recently found her passion for writing again after a 10 year hiatus. Melissa is the often snarky voice behind the Instagram account @MommyWifeyWino. She enjoys travelling, being sarcastic and having a good glass of red wine. In addition to writing for adults, Melissa also writes picture books for children.