8 Reasons You Should Meditate + The 30 Day Meditation Challenge

I’m stressed.  Recently I’ve been impatient, snapping at my wife and feeling down.  There’s a lot going on in my life right now.  A newborn baby to care for and an Ironman triathlon race less than a week away are just a couple of the reasons I’m feeling “off”.  I don’t feel like myself, and I just figured out why…. I haven’t been meditating.

Those of you who have read Stop & Breathe for a while know that I am a big fan of meditation.  It has had a profound effect on my life and I have benefited from it in many ways. I’m not sure why more people don’t do it.  After all, it takes little time and is very easy to learn as I explained in my article, Meditation 101: A 10 Step Beginner’s Guide.

So why haven’t I been meditating lately?  I suppose life got busy and I took the benefits of meditation for granted.  Perhaps I needed to loose some of those benefits as a reminder of just how important meditation is to me.

As a reminder to myself and to others, I have created the following list of 8 reasons meditation is so important to me.  This is not an exhaustive list of the benefits of meditation by any means, but it sums up those that have been most important to me.  If you meditate, I hope this article prompts you to consider why meditation is important to you.  If you don’t meditate, I hope you’ll be inspired to give it a try.

Before we get to the list, I’d like to invite you to join me in a challenge.  For the next 30 days I will meditate at least once a day and I hope you will too.  There’s no minimum or maximum time limit.  Simply meditate in a manner and for a length of time that works for you.  If that means you simply take the time to stop and breathe, that’s okay.  If you use your lunch hour to practice walking meditation, that’s fine too.  There are no rules other than committing to meditate at least once a day for 30 days.  I will be sharing some of my experiences with the challenge in the comments section and I encourage you to do so as well.

 

8 Reasons You Should Meditate:

1. Greater peace of mind
Imagine a time in life when you let your housekeeping slip.  Maybe you didn’t clean for a couple of weeks.  Magazines and mail collected on the counter.  Dishes piled up in the sink.  Laundry overflowed in your hamper.  How did it make you feel to live in that space?  Chances are you didn’t like it.  Now imagine a time when your home was organized and clean.  Maybe you’ve even spent time in a minimalist home.  Wasn’t it a much more pleasant space to live in?

Our minds are very much the same.  Every day we’re bombarded by messages and information from media, electronics, work, family and our living environments that clutter our minds.  So much so that it’s impossible for us to handle the information overload.  And when that happens, our minds aren’t a pleasant place to be.  We become agitated, stressed, impatient and tired.  But unlike our homes, we can’t walk out the door and ignore the clutter.

Meditation gives us the opportunity to de-clutter and do some housekeeping of the mind.  It’s not a time to organize thoughts, but rather to let your thoughts be.  To put them aside and be present with yourself.  As a result you’ll find a greater ease in living your daily life and finding peace of mind.

2. Greater self-awareness
Have you ever driven to a destination and not remember the trip?  Have you ever devoured your lunch in a rush without really noticing how it tasted?  These are just two examples of how the fast pace and demands of modern society have caused us to live life on autopilot.

Meditation helps us to reconnect with the present and experience our lives with self-awareness.  We are then able to turn off the autopilot and respond to life as we truly want to – on our own terms and not based on the expectations of others or learned reactions and patterns.

Read more about self-awareness and food in my article, The Art Of Mindful Eating.

3. Improved relationships
Think of the last time you had an argument with someone.  Did you truly listen to them or were you simply waiting for an opportunity to make your point?  We often get so wrapped up in ourselves that we don’t take the opportunity to connect with others, whether we’re arguing a point or simply having a pleasant conversation.

The self-awareness that meditation cultivates also helps us to see others more clearly, and with that clarity comes the opportunity to connect more deeply with others and build stronger relationships.

4. Respond to challenges with grace
Have you ever become stressed and agitated due to tight deadlines at work?  Maybe you’ve become angry and snapped at your partner when faced with a stressful family problem.  Life is filled with stressful challenges that are often made worse by the way we react to them.

Meditation helps us to relieve stress and see the present moment more clearly.  As a result, we can better respond to challenges in a productive manner rather than react on autopilot and do or say things that we later regret

5. Increased energy
The fast pace and responsibilities of life can cause stress and mental fatigue that also affect us physically.  Consider how much energy you have after a fun day at the beach with your family.  Chances are you have more energy than you would have had after a stressful day at the office.  A stressed and cluttered mind drains our energy.

Meditation helps to calm your mind, but in doing so it also rejuvenates the body.  Your mind and body are connected and will energize or drain the other depending on how you treat them.

Need help getting your exercise program back on track?  Read this.

6. Improved sleep
At some point most of us have lay awake at night, unable to sleep with thoughts racing through our heads.  It’s no wonder given the incredible amount of information our minds try to deal with on a daily basis.

Meditation at any time of the day will help to calm your busy mind and improve your sleep.  However, meditation in the evening has the added benefit of giving your body a break before bed.  The rejuvenated, restful feeling you feel in your body after meditation, combined with a calm mind, is one of the keys to achieving your most restful sleep ever.

7. Improved focus
Do you find yourself easily distracted and unable to focus?  The inability to focus is quite common for adults and is becoming alarmingly prevalent among children who are subsequently prescribed a long list of medications to deal with their attention deficits.  Is it any surprise when we see the fast pace and amount of media, advertising, games and information that is thrown at children today?

Meditation is an ideal solution.  De-cluttering your mind, reducing stress and helping you to become self-aware are all ways in which meditation helps you to live in the moment and regain greater focus.

8. Improved physical health
Meditation can improve your physical health in many ways, but none as profound as reducing stress.  Stress is considered a primary contributing factor to a long list of health problems, including heart disease, cancer, depression and premature aging.

Using meditation, we can better deal with and reduce the amount of stress in our lives.  And, as a result, we can improve our health.  The health benefits of meditation are difficult to quantify, but the personal experience of those who meditate regularly shows that there is a direct connection between meditation and improved health.  Skeptical?  Take the 30 day meditation challenge with me and see for yourself.

How have you benefited from mediation?

Photo credit: Stuck In Customs

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10 Comments

  1. Jason Billows |

    Day 3 of my commitment to meditate for 30 days in a row.

    No great epiphanies to report. Simply put, it just feels good. I feel like I’m “home” when I’m meditating and it’s nice to have some consistency back in my meditation practice.

  2. I love how you related a cluttered mind to a cluttered home!!! This is so true and I canrelate big time. I began to meditate about 6 months after beginning my own minimalist journey. I discovered how peaceful I felt in my newly decluttered home and read a post on mediation on zenhabits. It made so much sense. I started a meditation practice and began to notice the benefits right away. I have tried to articulate the benefits of meditation to a few people and always felt like I just couldn’t put it into words. Your post has helped me with this!! Meditation is so non-linear and non-verbal but it’s important to be able to convey why it is so important and you did that beautifully. I accept your challenge!! Meditation for 30 days-your on!

  3. Jason Billows |

    Hi Tali.

    Thanks for reading and for taking the time to comment.

    Meditation and minimalism certainly go hand in hand. I’m so glad to hear you’re enjoying the benefits of both.

    Thanks for joining me on the 30 day challenge. Please be sure to update us here in the comments as the challenge progresses.

  4. Jason Billows |

    Just finished meditating on my hotel balcony in Lake Placid overlooking the rolling mountains and Olympic ski jumps off in the distant. It’s a beautiful day… and a HOT one.

    I hope everyone else’s meditation challenge is going well.

  5. Jason Billows |

    Back from Lake Placid where my wife and I had the opportunity to meditate in some beautiful settings.

    Sunday was my Ironman triathlon – 140.6 mile swim, bike and run. It was a long and difficult day, but I still found time to meditate. I did some walking meditation in the morning during my preparations for the race and then I meditated just before the starting gun as I bobbed up and down in the water with 2600 other athletes. It goes to show that you can meditate pretty much anywhere. 🙂

    How’s the meditation challenge going for you?

  6. Jason Billows |

    I had a great morning meditation. While walking my son I practiced walking meditation. Never heard of it? Check out a “how to” post I wrote at http://www.balanceinme.com titled Meditation On The Move.

    Tomorrow I’ll be joining others in Ottawa for MedMob. If you’d like to participate in a MedMob in your city, check out http://www.medmob.org for details.

  7. Jason Billows |

    Yesterday was a special day. My wife, son and I joined a group of friends at a beautiful lake for the day. We played games, swam, ate and had all kinds of fun.

    In the middle of the afternoon I headed out on a swim across the lake. After 1.5km (~1mile) of swimming, I found myself on the far side of the lake sitting on a rock, bathed in sunlight. I decided to do my daily meditation right then and there. It was a perfect, peaceful place.

    I’m a firm believer that you can meditate virtually anywhere. I regularly practice walking meditation down busy streets, sit in busy parks, and even meditate on the bus. But, there is something special about meditating in a beautiful, quiet, outdoor setting.

    I hope you’re discovering some special places to meditate during your meditation challenge.

  8. Jason Billows |

    The meditation challenge continues to go well. I did miss one day while my wife and I were in Montreal celebrating our anniversary, but I’m not going to too hard on myself about that. 🙂

    I recently purchased a simple but beautiful mala that I’ve been wearing around my neck every day. It has been a great reminder to remain in the moment and meditate regularly, even if it’s a quick walking meditation while I”m out with my son, or even taking a moment to stop and breathe.

    If you’d like to learn more about malas, you can check out a link I have included in my Meditation 101 post that is in my “featured posts” list.

  9. Jason Billows |

    Wow, my 30 day meditation challenge has been over for more than a week now and I just realized it. I’ve actually been meditating every day, only missing one day of meditation during the challenge when my wife and I were out of town celebrating our anniversary. I suppose the fact that I didn’t even realize my challenge was over supports the theory that it takes approximately 30 days to establish a new habit.

    I’m going to write a post about my experiences during the meditation challenge. Be sure to keep you eyes open for it… when you’re not meditating that is. 🙂

  10. Take notice of how your house and street look from this view point.

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