If you're like me, you're probably completely in awe of those successful people who appear to do it all. They run their own businesses, take care of their kids and seem to eat right, fit in exercise, get enough sleep and stay super calm.
So, what's their secret?
As a former anti-meditator, I understand if you don't want to hear it. But I now meditate for 30 minutes most days (I know, right?!), and I really, truly get it.
Oprah Winfrey meditates for 20 minutes every day. Barbara Walters meditates. Arianna Huffington meditates. And that's not where it ends -- movie stars are meditating, too.
As Kate Hudson told People magazine,
Meditation has saved my sanity. Not that I was crazy, but in this world of hyperspeed, overstimulation, no escape from technology and constant emotional stress, it's very hard to stay centered and grounded.
See? Everyone's doing it. Let's talk about why.
Meditation is exercise for your brain.
Now that I meditate regularly, I've found I'm calmer, less moody and sleep a little better, which makes sense.
Because as Sara Lazar, a neuroscientist at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical, told The Washington Post,
Mindfulness is just like exercise. It's a form of mental exercise, really. And just as exercise increases health, helps us handle stress better and promotes longevity, meditation purports to confer some of those same benefits.
If you meditate for 20 minutes a day, that's a pretty solid chunk of time to practice clearing your mind of all thoughts. You're practicing concentrating on your breath. So it only makes sense this practice would translate to other areas of your life -- when negative thoughts start to creep in, you're better equipped to send them out of your brain.
Similarly, when you notice your focus drifting from that not-so-interesting task at work, it's easier for you to bring your mind back to it. Why? Because that's what you're constantly practicing when you meditate.
I think it's pretty safe to say super successful people wouldn't be quite as successful if they weren't exercising their brains on the regular.
Meditation can make you less anxious and depressed.
From regular exercise to getting enough sleep, there are tons of natural ways to reduce anxiety and depression -- meditation practice is one of them.
A 2013 study took a look at anxiety and depression in teens and what kind of impact a regular meditation practice had on those symptoms.
For the students who practiced meditation regularly, they saw a decrease in both anxiety and depression following the program and for a full six months afterward.
Yep, meditation is kind of a superpower.
Meditation makes you much nicer.
Meditation rewires your brain for the better.
I'd heard that in the years before I started meditating, but it didn't convince me. My brain functioned pretty well, why did it need to be rewired?
Here's what meditation has done for me and meditators everywhere: It's made me less reactive. In other words, something can happen I don't necessarily like and instead of letting it ruin my day, I acknowledge it, deal with it and move on.
Meditation has made me nicer both to myself and other people.
As Dan Harris, an ABC news anchor who wrote an entire book on meditation called "10% Happier," explained,
Nobody continues to meditate because they feel like 'my pre-frontal cortex might be changing.' You continue to meditate because you're less of an assh*le to yourself and others. That's a huge value added.
See? Meditation is freeing.
Now stop reading and start meditating.