It seems like nearly everybody is into meditation these days. There are apps, YouTube videos, and experts everywhere. Meditation is no longer just for yoga class and members of the new age movement. Everybody from Katy Perry to Clint Eastwood to Oprah Winfrey to Steve Jobs has mentioned meditation as a tool in their success.
So, what is meditation good for? And why should you consider it when picking the tools to help you reach your goals?
While meditation and mindfulness practices have been around for thousands of years, we’d like to look at some of the modern science and research to help you decide if it’s for you.
What Is Meditation Good For?
As high performers (both in and out of the gym) many of us deal with pain and injury, the need for proper sleep and recovery, and too much stress. We’re also likely to be interested in decreasing inflammation in our bodies and avoiding disease.
With all that in mind, consider the following:
Currently, the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (a U.S. government agency) is also supporting studies investigating the application of meditation for fibromyalgia, stress reduction for multiple sclerosis sufferers, and reduction of post-traumatic stress disorder, headaches, and blood pressure. It is also being further investigated for its potential benefits to the immune system.
As you can see, the application for meditation is large, continues to expand, and is relevant to anyone pursuing health and performance.
How to Get Started with Meditation
Ironically, getting started with meditation can be stressful. How do you know what to do? How long do you do it for? What if you get it “wrong”?
Thankfully, it’s actually very easy to get started with meditation, and there’s literally no way to do it wrong. All you have to do to start is create an awareness of your breathing:
There are, of course, many more formal ways of meditating—from Zazen to Kundalini to Transcendental. We recommend you explore a variety of styles and forms to find what brings you the most benefit. Apps like Headspace and guided meditation videos on YouTube can be useful tools to initiate your exploration.
But if that all feels overwhelming—just breathe.
Is Meditation a Tool for You?
Meditation bridges the gap between our mental and physical selves. Therefore, it can be a valuable tool in everything from managing daily stress to performing under pressure on the competitive stage. Regularly spending time meditating can also help you to determine what matters to you most, be kinder to yourself, and develop compassion for others.
Sounds like some big claims, right? Well, meditation hasn’t been around for thousands of years for no reason.