The benefits of meditation

Establishing a daily meditation practice has been on my ‘to do’ list for quite a while. I have a well established yoga practice for over 15 years, but I struggled to settle long enough for daily meditation. Over the last two years I’ve dabbled with it, and done lots of meditation and mindfulness courses, but as much as I loved it and understood the huge benefits of it, I couldn’t get it to stick. Until last Christmas when my dad, the centre of my universe, became very sick and spent four difficult months in hospital. My yoga practice became my safe haven, where whatever was lurking under my brave exterior could flow, in all its shapes and forms. I practiced with such clarity, and was amazed by how the body knew exactly what it needed to do to support itself. I finally was ready to sit in silence and establish my daily meditation practice!

It’s now three months since I started a consistent daily practice, and as I reflect over what the practice has brought me, I notice they are far greater than the value of the small amount of time required for your daily practice.

Here are some of the benefits I have noticed so far...

  • Greater awareness and observation skills
  • More self-compassion
  • Learning the value of taking time to nourish myself by taking time out
  • Less judgemental of myself and others
  • Learning to pause before reacting to situation
  • Feeling less overwhelmed by busy day
  • Learning to declutter my day and let go of unnecessary tasks
  • Happier to be me
  • Feeling nourishment thrive from every cell
  • Appreciation of my health
  • Calmer and more attentive to the kids
  • Deepening of my yoga practice
  • Learning that not everything can be fixed, and sometimes it's not my job to fix it!

And many more benefits I look forward to along my meditation journey...

  • Stress management
  • Eases anxiety
  • Eases tension
  • Eases depression
  • Improves cognitive function
  • Improved attention span
  • Builds focus & concentration
  • Builds connections with others
  • Increases empathy & compassion
  • Improves quality of sleep
  • Balances nervous system
  • Reduces blood pressure
  • Slows biological ageing
  • Aids pain management
  • Increases immune system

All that in just a few minutes a day! If, like me, you find it hard to get your daily practice going, keep chipping away at it - learning, reading, listening to podcasts and playing around with different methods of meditation, until eventually it will stick. Start with just 3 mins a day and build up from there. You don’t have to be meditating for an hour a day to make a difference to you life. Small, regular practices are more beneficial than one 30min practice a week. Remember that the mind will wander, and when it does, gently guide it back to the breath, without judgement. When I feel myself getting involved in internal chatter, I label them ‘stories’ and return to the breath without making a fuss. For people with kids, those 3 mins of meditation are the most important minutes of your day, take it from a mum and her three kids.

I now look forward to my meditation and to the lovely feeling of clarity I know it will give me for the rest of the day. Meditation is not a miracle fix glue for life – there will still be plenty of life's challenges, but when you do encounter moments of stress, it gives you the ability to pause and observe, before you react. Your mind will thank you for helping it to take a break from the days planning and list making. Ciara Cronin of The Yoga Room runs a continuous Mindfulness & Meditation 4 week course. The studio is a beautiful space and is always warm and welcoming. Ciaras knowledge and guidance of mindfulness meditation help you to cross the bridge safely into the unknown. Before you know it, you’re meditating and you’ve started your new journey!

“Most people are aware that the benefits of mindfulness include relief from stress and anxiety and a calmer state of mind, but it also has a profound restorative effect on all the physical systems of the body; improving our immunity to illness, aiding digestion, balancing metabolism, relaxing the nervous system, and increasing our creativity, empathy and compassion.” Ciara Cronin, The Yoga Room

Ruth Delahunty Yogaru