Ever cringe when you hear the word meditate? I have to be honest and share that I definitely have. In the beginning, I think it was because it felt a little “froo froo” to me. A little out there…like, you want me to do whaaaat? You know what I’m saying? And then I began to see the research and started to buy into the concept quite a bit more (especially when I saw the research that says therapists who practice meditation in some way are more effective therapists - *gulp* maybe I should look into it then). So I did. Then I discovered it’s really hard. Then I discovered that’s a judgment and not really part of a meditative practice. So I’ve been working on it!
Research on Meditation
A lot of the research speaks to the benefits related to attention and working memory. There is also some research that talks about the cognitive and emotional benefits such as being more open and therefore less prone to emotional bias that could be problematic.
Meditation may also be useful for physiological benefits including adjunctive care for conditions such as but not limited to chronic pain, high blood pressure and high cortisol levels (stress hormone). In conjunction with the physiological benefits, this same study indicated possible improvement with anxiety and depression when used with other therapies as well. It’s also interesting there is minimal to no negative side effect to trying meditation for these concerns. Worst case scenario, you don’t notice a difference!
I do my best to be congruent with my personal and clinical practice. In short, I try hard to practice what I preach! So I work on consistent meditation practices including regular yoga, prayer, and often use apps for a calming meditation to recenter or to get to sleep faster! If you’re interested, some of my favorite apps are Calm, Insight Timer, Headspace, and Muse.
Muse is actually really cool (and a bit of an investment!) because it’s coupled with a sort of headband that reads brain waves, heart rate, etc. This scientific data helps me really learn what effective meditation actually feels like in my body. For example, I know the sensation of ujjayi breathing in yoga is closely correlated with my “calm” zone when I use Muse.
It’s really important to learn how to be non-judgmental in your meditative practice. It’s so normal for our mind to wander or to forget what we were doing! Meditation is often just a practice of noticing, getting refocused and continuing to try. If you’re not into apps or anything like that, a simple meditation you can try every day is just to close your eyes, focus on your breath in and out and just notice. Try it for 30 seconds. Then when that gets comfortable, try it for a minute. Then keep trying and begin to notice the benefits YOU feel when you work on a meditative practice!
If you feel like you need some extra help with meditation and/or the non-judgment part of your life, we can help! Fill out our online form here and we’ll be in touch soon!