Have you considered using meditation for mental health? I used to think that meditation was something unhappy people did to try to find peace with themselves. It wasn’t until I began my Yoga Teacher Training that my eyes were opened to the many benefits of meditation for both physical and mental wellbeing.
I’ve been a Pilates teacher for many years and found the mind-body connection in Pilates offered a beautiful temporary release for my chronic overthinking, but it was my discovery of yoga and meditation that allowed me to start embracing and making the most of my introverted strengths.
While I don’t suffer from any diagnosable mental health problems, I have experienced bouts of anxiety. And I’m an introvert – social awkwardness which often leads to social anxiety has accompanied me my whole life.
This is where I find meditation invaluable. By practising regularly, I can easily overcome my tendency to overthink everything. Less overthinking means less anxiety, and less anxiety means I can handle any situation life throws at me with a calm mind and confident manner.
Why I use meditation for my mental health
- When I meditate regularly, my thoughts are more precise. You know that feeling you get when speaking in public – where you know what you want to say, but the word is just out of reach? A regular meditation practice keeps my mind calm and my thoughts clear, so that word I’m searching for is more easily found.
As an introvert in social situations, the clearer my thoughts, the easier it is to communicate, and the less social awkwardness ensues.
- With regular meditation, I don’t care about external things as much. I can scroll my Instagram feed without feeling any twinges of comparison anxiety. Meditation helps me to feel satisfied with myself and with my life.
This helps me avoid comparison to others. Many studies have shown that social media comparison can lead to depression. It’s also great for my savings plan as I’m less likely to feel the need to shop. I’m calm and confident within myself and therefore, less prone to fall for marketing prompts to buy more or to be more.
- Regular meditation builds confidence. This is an unexpected benefit to meditation, one that was never mentioned in any of the textbooks I read while studying for my yoga teacher qualification. The more I meditate, the more confident I feel.
This confidence has nothing to do with external conditions, accolades or accomplishments, it’s unshakeable. When you meditate you connect with source. Depending on your belief system, source can be identified as God, the universe or that deep part of you that is your higher self. And the sense of knowing that comes with connecting to source is what gives you this quiet and unshakeable confidence. And this confidence means less anxiety or social awkwardness in any situation.
How you can use meditation for mental health
Here are my 4 tips to help you start a meditation practice that will improve your mental health.
1. Let go of any myths or preconceived ideas about meditating.
- You don’t need to sit for hours in silence.
- You don’t need to chant.
- You don’t need to clear your mind of all thoughts.
- Meditation is merely becoming still and focusing your mind on one thing to quiet the internal noise.
Many different types of meditation will help you to focus your mind, none of them requires special skills or an ability to sit still for hours. In fact, only 10 minutes of meditation, 3 times a week will benefit your mental health.
2. Set aside time to dedicate to meditation
Think of starting a meditation practice as a self-care practice. Just like you know you need to set time aside to exercise, or get your hair done, find time in your schedule to meditate. Remember, all you need is 10 minutes, 3 times a week. Check your calendar and schedule yourself 10 minutes and treat those 10 minutes like a business meeting. Make time for your self-care so you can thrive.
3. Download a meditation app.
If you’re a beginner to meditation for mental health, then I highly recommend you start with a guided meditation. Guided meditation will help you focus your mind, which is a difficult task at the best of times, but even more so when you’re starting out on your meditation journey.
I use Insight Timer App because it is full of free guided meditations that range from 5 minutes to 1 hour. It’s easy to use and available for both apple and android phones.
4. Be kind to yourself
Start slowly and be gentle, but don’t give up. Keep in mind that you’re starting a meditation practise to improve your mental health, so be kind to yourself. If you have days when your mind will not focus, and you give in to the whirling stream of never-ending thoughts, that’s ok. Shrug it off and tell yourself next time will be better. If you plan for 15 minutes meditation but only manage 10, that’s fine too. Just persevere with your practice so you can reap all the benefits.
Using meditation for mental health
I have found meditation to be an indispensable help for my mental health and wellbeing, particularly over these past few months of uncertainty. I hope this article convinces you to try meditation for your mental health. And that you too will experience clearer thoughts, a sense of inner confidence and less anxiety or social awkwardness.
Do you use meditation for your mental health? Leave us a comment below with your tips and suggestions and share your knowledge with our readers.
Featured image by DeMorris Byrd