I've already shared 5 reasons I think meditation is worthy of a daily date, but there is just so much gold in the meditation goodie bag that I couldn't resist sharing 5 more reasons with you. So without further ado, let's get started.
1. INSPIRATION STATION: Whether you're an artist, a lawyer, a doctor or a full time mama, creative problem solving is a highly coveted cognitive function. Meditation gives your mind a break from mundane thinking. It lets you take your claws out of your thoughts and just sit still. In the pockets of peace (which admittedly might be intermittent at best some days!) you'll find clarity...which makes way for insights, unexpected solutions and fresh perspectives, and even the occasional lighting bolt revelation. All of which translate to increased creativity. But don't take my word for it. Meditation has become the magic well from which the creative community drink - Jerry Seinfeld, David Lynch, Francis Ford Coppola, Maria Popova, George Lucas (apparently Yoda was based on the Maharishi), Tim Ferris and Stephen Spielberg all kick off their days by putting their tush on the meditation cushion. Los Angeles based writer Laura Moses (who happens to have been raised in a meditation community) says "there is no creative tap you can turn on and off, but meditating can act like that creative on and off switch." I say flip that switch and let the creativity flow!
2. PATIENCE, PLEASE: Increased patience is another solid-gold side effect of meditation. When you commit to meditating, you have to sit for a specified amount of time. Without. Doing. Anything. Which can be incredibly frustrating for busy-bees and habitual multi-taskers. But by staying put and sticking with your meditation, you're building your resolve in the face of resistance. As Zen priest Steve Hagen puts it, "if you can get past resistance to meditation, nothing else in life will be an obstacle." Suddenly the painful phone call with the phone company tech support isn't so frustrating. You stay calm and let your kid tie their own shoes even though it takes about 5 minutes longer (and will undoubtedly have to be fixed up later). You take a breath and keep your cool before pouncing on the infuriating coworker's email with a fiery reply all. We can probably all agree that the benefits of patience outweigh the time we've "lost" in the process of being composed, compassionate and tolerant. In the bigger picture, patience gives us staying power in life, too, by allowing us to trust the process without resistance. Patience gifts us with humility and perseverance and endurance and that's a winning combo.
3. MORE TIME: In his book "Within" Dr. Habib Sadeghi explains that through meditation we can actually stretch time through maintaining a meditative mindset. He writes that our thoughts create actions and events in a "never ending succession of NOWs" which form our perception (or illusion) of time. Dr. Sadeghi continues "as we keep thinking, we generate more thought/events. It's the space between these thoughts that generate the illusion of time...the more thoughts we have in closer succession means less time between them. This is why when we are feeling rushed, frantic, out of time, or multitasking, time seems to move faster. It literally does because we're creating it that way." In contrast, "a calm, meditative mind that remains in the present creates far fewer peaks or thoughts/events. Thus, the distance between them is much greater, creating fewer and longer spans of time." Fair to say that we could all use more time in our day, right?
4. FRESH PERSPECTIVE: When you shut your eyes and (attempt to) give your mind a break from the trivial chatter of the monkey mind, the endless stream of to-do lists and the pin-balling of 15 open browser windows, it gives you an opportunity to crack open a fresh perspective. When you open your eyes at the end of your meditation, suddenly the little niggling worries, anxieties, frustrations and stress feel a little less urgent. A little less serious. And maybe even a little less important. Instead, you catch a glimpse of the bigger picture of your life. And see things a little more clearly. Everything is a bit more vibrant. Hope, joy and a sense of freedom are again glistening on the horizon.
5. MEDITATION MEDICATION: The immune system isn't a fixed thing. It's sensitive and intelligent, so much so that it has become known as a "floating brain" for it's ability to respond to chemical messages from the brain - and that includes thoughts, feelings and even expectations. Dr. Deepak Chopra explains that "Meditation stimulates immune system brain-function regions. Mindfulness meditation has shown increases in electrical activity in the prefrontal cortex, the right anterior insula, and right hippocampus, all parts that control positive emotions, awareness, and anxiety. These are also the areas of the brain that act as a command center for your immune system. When stimulated, they make the immune system function more effectively." Dr. Chopra concludes that "our response to potential illness, as managed by the immune system, improves with meditation. This is in keeping with another strong message. Being susceptible to chronic disorders like type-2 diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and high blood pressure, conditions that are not the result of invading microbes, is also reduced through meditation." This just goes to show that the mind-body connection is alive and well - especially if you meditate. Wink wink.