postheadericon Why Morning Meditation Works

A Chicago State of Mind

The best thing about living in Chicago is the energy. It’s not fighting the hustle and bustle but enjoying being in the middle of it. I benefit very much from having the low hum of Windy City humanity buzzing in my ear. However, I firmly believe I can handle that burden because of my morning meditation routine. Every morning, before most people have even hit the snooze button, I face east, begin meditating and greet the sun.

Meditating in the morning is ideal because at 5 a.m. my day is clean. Not too long after I roll up my yoga mat, businesswomen begin sipping coffee, children grab their lunch boxes before heading out the door and the day’s first tourists start photographing Chicago attractions. When I give myself a chance to meditate, I prepare myself for the day. I never wake in a frenzy, being thrown into something. I rise up and greet my day, I accept it. I am in control of my morning.

My practice is a patchwork at best. As an avid pirate of free yoga classes, YouTube meditation videos and Native American jewelry, sometimes I fear the practice I’ve constructed resembles a failed actress trying to meditate for B roll, but it works for me. There is no religious aspect tied to my meditations. I do not ask for anything. I do not bend myself into shapes or prick my finger over herbs and crystals. I sit the way I was taught in a meditation class a few years ago: straight with open palms on my knees. My eyes rest closed and I try to look through my heart. I breathe deeply.

Most mornings I sing or chant a song I learned at summer camp when I was younger. They told us it was a Native American song to greet the sun. I just think it sounds pretty and appropriate. When I meditate I try to think about nothing. When that doesn’t work I think about breathing. When that doesn’t work I think about tea or rivers or how my back used to ache but so much straight-up sitting has made me stronger.

When I explain my practice it so often sounds futile. There isn’t really a tangible goal. I’m not trying to reach enlightenment, enhance my flexibility for develop my physic healing. By each morning, making the choice to sit with myself and simply be I have control over the direction of my day. So many people experience their first moments of the day on a crowded city bus or amidst honking rush hour traffic. This can easily get you in a foul mood or even “ruin your day.” When I’m on my way to work my day already has a clear direction and it would take a lot to disrupt it. I’m protecting myself.

Chicago is a wonderful place to live and the life of a big city is electrifying. Meditating is perfect for bringing more peace into your life. In my opinion meditating in the morning, before mixing with the energy of so many, not only helps me to appreciate the city more but know myself better and my place in the family of things.

postheadericon How To Stay Awake During Meditation

Some people find, particularly if they are new to meditation, that they tend to drift off to sleep while meditating. It’s easy to understand as meditation is extremely relaxing and reminiscent in many ways of the early stages of sleep. Still though, it can be frustrating to be meditating and then wake up realizing you must have fallen asleep. There are ways to avoid this though, here are five ways to avoid falling asleep during meditation.

1. Meditate in the Middle of the Day

If you meditate before you go to bed or as soon as you wake up then you’re already tired and prone to falling asleep.

Instead try meditating at midday when you are most alert. This will also allow to recharge your batteries after a busy morning.

2. Experiment With Different Positions

Rather than choosing a reclining position try a more upright position such as the lotus. As the lotus position requires balance this will stop you from drifting off to sleep.

3. Don’t Meditate in the Bedroom

The mind associates the bedroom with sleep, amongst other things, so if you meditate in the bedroom you’re naturally more likely to fall asleep.

Meditate in different rooms instead like the kitchen where you’re less likely to fall asleep. Even better you could meditate outside if you have a nice garden.

4. Try a Walking Mediation

There are certain kinds of meditation that involve movement, traditional yoga for example. However if you can’t find a suitable yoga class you could just try a walking meditation. There are many different kinds of walking meditations but the easiest is to go for a walk in the park and focus on taking deep breaths at a regular rhythm.

5. Drink Water Before You Meditate

Drinking a cold glass of water will refresh you and waken up your system if you’re feeling drowsy.

postheadericon Proven Benefits of Meditation

The benefits of meditation for mental tranquility and maintaining a calm and even-tempered outlook are well known. Because of this, meditation has often been relegated by the mainstream of American culture to a less-respected fringe area also occupied by acupuncture and other eastern influences. While meditation and yoga have made significant incursions into the mainstream milieu, they still don’t always get the respect they deserve. Recent studies though are beginning to show what practitioners of these eastern imports have suspected for a long time.

Meditation Can Make You Physically Healthier

It makes perfect sense that yoga would result in better physical condition. All the stretching exercises certainly look like they’d be beneficial. But researchers who have engaged in studies of long term meditation practitioners have begun to discover some surprising results. People who have made meditation a significant part of their daily routines for more than a few months have far fewer incidents of physical ailments than do their non-meditating peers. These aren’t folks who are practicing yoga either.  These studies focused merely on measuring meditation benefits. Surprisingly, meditators have healthier immune systems than non-meditators. It’s hard to imagine a more profound physical phenomenon than the ability to ward off disease and infection.

Rewire Your Brain

Long-time meditators have better memory, fewer cases of anxiety, depression, anger and fatigue. This isn’t just because meditation makes a person feel better either. The same studies which indicated healthier immune systems in those who meditate also point to the brain’s ability to actually change neural pathways in the brain. This could mean, incredibly, that long-term meditation actually changes how the brain is wired. Perhaps our bodies and our future health scenarios are less biologically determined than we thought. And if individuals realize that they aren’t necessarily resigned to suffer inevitable physical and mental infirmities just because we all eventually age, more people may begin to practice meditation. And it’s never too late to start.

Meditation in College Context

Many folks encounter meditation through college physical education classes. Yoga and stretching classes often feature meditation as part of the curricula. Continuing these non-academic educational components as part of university life is key to ensuring that a wider swath of the general public will eventually tap into the health benefits inherent in long-term meditation. When students experience meditation as an effective method for reducing anxiety and maintaining a positive outlook as undergraduate students, they’re much more likely to continue the practice into adult life. Someone who meditates frequently will likely be a better employee, spouse and parent than someone who doesn’t. But you don’t have to begin meditation as a college student to capitalize on its health benefits.

Meditation for Older Individuals

The rubric which researchers used to produce their findings about meditation changing immune systems and brain functions involved people who meditated regularly for more than eight weeks. That means that a mere two months of regular meditation may be all it takes to produce such significant positive results. Older folks who wish to forestall health problems that may have plagued their parents and grandparents might find that meditation results in benefits that they never imagined. And unlike some forms of physical exercise which might be too high-impact for seniors, meditation has no negative side effects.


Author Bio

Jesse Langley lives near Chicago. He divides his time among work, writing, meditation and family life. He has a keen interest in meditation and blogging and also writes on behalf of Colorado Technical University He writes for