Benefits of Meditation + An Easy Way to Practice
Heard about the amazing benefits of meditation but don’t think you’re the “meditation type”? Think again! There’s an easy, effective technique that works for anyone–even those with the busiest minds and schedules! Increase your mindfulness, reduce stress, enhance your spiritual connection, and improve your overall health and wellness with a simple meditation practice–we’ll show you how!
This guest post is by Jill Wener, a physician and teacher who uses meditation as a key tool in her holistic approach to wellness and stress management. In addition to teaching Conscious Health Meditation to healthcare professionals across the country, she has presented on stress reduction at medical conferences nationwide. Jill has received tremendous personal benefits from her own meditation practice, and finds joy in sharing her passion with others. Over to you, Jill!
Picture it: you’re sitting in a meadow, the sun is setting magically behind you, and there’s a warm breeze running gently through your hair. You’re sitting with your legs crossed in lotus position with your back perfectly straight, you’ve cleared your mind of all thoughts, and you are feeling soooo blissful and relaxed.
Sound familiar, or even do-able? Probably not! That’s what I always thought meditation looked and felt like, and I never had any success with it. At least, not until I learned a practice called Vedic Meditation in 2011, and my entire life changed.
I’m a doctor. After 7 years of training, I practiced hospital-based Internal Medicine for 10 years in Chicago. I took care of patients who were sick enough to be admitted to the hospital with kidney failure, pneumonia, AIDS-related complications, strokes, and congestive heart failure.
Five years into my career, I developed severe burnout. It got to the point where one small thing would go against my expectations, and I would either start crying or I’d just get up and leave my office and finish doing my charting from home. I had no reserves. Vacation helped, but then I’d just end up burned out again as soon as I got back to work.
I had heard about the benefits of meditation. The evidence in the medical literature is astounding. I knew it could physically change some of the structures in the brain and re-wire how the brain processes stress and pain (a Harvard study in 2012 showed functional MRI results that the brain’s stress center, the amygala, was less activated after just 8 weeks of meditation).
I knew it could help me be more mindful and present in my daily life. I knew it could help with the debilitating anxiety I felt but left untreated for years; a study in The Journal of Psychiatric Practice showed the benefits of different types of meditation on depression, anxiety, and pain. But I just never had much luck with, or interest in, the meditation I had tried (i.e. at the end of the handful of yoga classes).
And, to be honest, I just thought that meditation was something that other people did. Woo-woo people. Not people like me.
I was your typical Type-A, skeptical, non-spiritual, anxious doctor, and I never in a million years would’ve thought I’d become a meditator, much less a meditation instructor! But I was desperate and at rock-bottom, and the universe has a funny way of bringing things our way right when we need them the most.
I met someone who told me they meditated twice a day, and I was fascinated. On a whim, I went to hear their teacher speak that same weekend. I brought my best inner skeptic with me and just knew that this guy would be a quack.
What happened instead is that he spoke about stress and its effects on the mind and body in a way that resonated down to the depths of my soul. Plus, everything he said resonated scientifically, so I had no excuse. I signed up for his course. It was a lot of money, and I was completely terrified. I knew no one who meditated, but something inside me just knew I had to do it.
Within 1 day of starting the course, I was successfully meditating twice daily without any apps or guided visualization. By the end of the course (4 90-minute sessions, 4 days in a row), I had actual meditation experiences that helped my inner skeptic let down her guard and accept that this was something real and potentially life-changing. And within just a few weeks, I lost my road rage!
Plus, the meditations themselves felt really good, were easy to do, and I was able to fit them into my day despite carrying a pager 24-7. I actually looked forward to meditating twice each day, and I felt so much better that there was NO WAY I’d ever stop. My burnout improved over a few months, and I made huge strides in my medical career.
A couple of years later, I decided to become a teacher in my meditation tradition, which requires about 2 years of advanced coursework and a 3-month teacher training in India. Once I had the tools to teach this incredible technique to other people- a technique that isn’t a bandaid but actually reverses the lifetime of damage in our body caused by stress–I knew I needed to focus on teaching it full-time.
The Rest Technique: Meditation Made Easy
After teaching live meditation courses for over 3 years (I call it Conscious Health Meditation), I combined my medical background with my meditation expertise to create a really powerful online meditation course called The REST Technique (psst… see the bottom of this post for a discount code!).
The REST Technique is very similar to my live course, but it’s quite different from other types of meditation that most people have heard of.
With the REST Technique, you:
- Sit comfortably with your back supported. Have an itch? Scratch it. Legs hurt? Change positions.
- Allow, even encourage, your mind to wander. The mind has thoughts all day, every day, just like the heart beats. Trying to ‘clear the mind’ is a losing battle, and it feels horrible. When you practice the REST Technique, you’ll be swimming with the natural flow of your thoughts, rather than against it.
- Can practice meditation self-sufficiently, without needing your phone or a trip to the meditation studio. No apps, no guided visualizations, just you.
- Can meditate with all kinds of noise in the background. You can meditate at home, in your car in the carpool line, in airplanes, in your office, at a coffee shop, and at the hair salon.
- Are allowed to sleep during meditation–that means you’re doing it right!
Meditation is not a one-size-fits-all endeavor. If you’ve tried (and failed) at other types of meditation practices, don’t despair! More importantly, don’t limit yourself by thinking that meditation success is only for other people.
If I could do it, you can do it! You can try apps, live courses, online courses such as The REST Technique, or drop-in classes at a meditation studio. There are many types of meditation out there, and there’s one that will work for you.
Thanks, Jill, for sharing your wisdom with us! If any of these thoughts sound familiar…
- “My mind is definitely too active to meditate.”
- “I need a better work-life balance (but I’m too busy to drive to a meditation class).”
- “I’m tired of feeling stressed, and I wish I had more energy to go with the flow.”
- “I wish I was less reactive with my kids/coworkers/family.”
- “I’m a terrible sleeper, and I’m so anxious and depressed.”
- “I’m so busy taking care of everyone else that I’ve been neglecting my own self-care.”
- “I’ve tried (and failed) at mindfulness meditation practices, and meditation just doesn’t work for me.”
Then the REST Technique is for you! Learn more about this outside-the-box meditation practice here, and use the code ROOT10 for 10% off the course!
Photo Credit: Heidi Geldhauser
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