I’ve meditated on and off for 40 years. I wrote this recently for my daughter as I think she is ready. It may be of interest.
To help relieve the stress of everyday life – essentially the flight response that is produced in real (car crash) or apparent (not having “enough” time) crisis – we need a counterbalance. Excess anxiety will produce cumulative long-term physical and mental ill effects if not managed.
Meditation slows the breathing, heart rate, brain waves and thus metabolism and so is the exact opposite of stress. It helps you attune to your mind and body and the world via the breath. The beauty part is that each of us has WITHIN US the capacity to control and reverse the effects of stress by this simple practice. Yoga can produce similar effects due to its combo of focus and relaxation.
There are researched and documented (Harvard) benefits to meditation but simply it has 2 features that evoke the relaxation response:
2. Disregarding random thoughts (or activities) when they come to mind.
Both allow you to break the train of everyday thinking so produce temporary relief and long-term peace of mind. The world and its stressors are still out there but after meditation your mind is calmed and strengthened with a fresh perspective and insight.
You get most benefit from learning properly and daily practice – 20 mins twice per day is most often recommended to get into the habit. And it’s not easy at first – that’s why it’s called meditation practice. I have meditated for 40 years – at first every day for a couple of years, after I did a ‘breathing meditation’ course as a ‘liberal studies’ module at college. It then becomes something that is a part of you and you can tap into it on the train, as a means of relaxing before sleep, at the sea shore etc.