I started noticing it a few years ago.
I’d be reading profiles of brilliant leaders. People who’d really reached the top of their game.
Consistently, these high performers would mention that they meditate for at least 20 minutes a day.
These weren’t spiritual people, per se. They were business people. Actors. Athletes. Experts in their field.
Meditation has gone mainstream, and it’s about time.
Meditation is Medicine
Back in the ‘70s when I was a kid, meditation had a bit of a reputation.
The most popular form of meditation was transcendental meditation, introduced to the West by the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Students were given their own personalized mantra to repeat.
Although it was billed as a non-religious technique useful for reducing stress and relaxing, transcendental meditation was too woo-woo for a lot of people.
Who would have ever guessed that, forty years later, meditation would have the solid backing of medical research?
Research has shown that meditation can be effective for managing pain, high blood pressure, anxiety and depression, and irritable bowel syndrome. It’s shown promise in treating trauma, fibromyalgia, even infertility.
Cardiologist Mimi Guarneri is blunt. She’s seen the way meditation can be used as part of a comprehensive program to reduce heart attack and stroke. “Meditation is medicine,” she says. 
5 Ways Meditation Can Help You
But what if you don’t have any medical conditions? Why would you meditate?
Here are 5 compelling reasons.
- Maybe you want to live for longer. People who meditate regularly have longer telomeres, the caps on the end of DNA that predict lifespan.
- Maybe you want to get sick less often. Meditation boosts your immune system, making you more resistant to the common cold.
- Maybe you want to be happier. Meditation boosts feelings of wellbeing and diminishes stress and anxiety.
- Maybe you want to perform better at school or at work. Meditation improves concentration, memory, creativity, and your ability to multitask.
- Maybe you just want some peace and quiet. Our days are so busy. We’ve got thousands of thoughts whizzing through our minds. To relax, we fill our minds with aimless digital entertainment. Wouldn’t it be wonderful just to stop for a minute and do nothing?
Meditation is your chance to stop for a minute and just do nothing.
You wouldn’t believe how relaxing that is. Nothing to do. Nowhere to go. No one needing you to do something for them. Just time to relax and breathe.
Meditation as Self-Care
Perhaps the most compelling reason to start a meditation practice is that it forces you to take time for self-care.
When you set aside 20 minutes to meditate every morning, that’s YOUR time. No one else can interfere with it. Shut your door, leave your phone in another room, and let your family know that you’re not available until you walk out that door again.
A reluctant meditator myself, I always felt resistant to the idea of sitting down with my thoughts. I spent half my day escaping my thoughts! I didn’t want to be alone with them.
I also didn’t appreciate being told by others how I was supposed to deal with stress. There’s no better way to kill someone’s interest for meditation than by telling them they should do it.
Ultimately, what changed my view is realizing that I didn’t have to sit on a cushion and count my breaths. I could find a way of creating mental space that suited me.
You can meditate while lying in a hot, fragrant bath. You can meditate while gardening. You can lie down on your bed and enjoy a guided meditation that takes you wild places in your imagination.
At its essence, meditation is little more than taking a step back from your thoughts and watching them go by.
A Mindful Alternative to Meditation
I’ve often thought we need meditation more these days, simply because we no longer have long stretches of time where we’re doing manual work, left alone with our thoughts.
Physically repetitive activities, whether it’s knitting or chopping wood, provide the perfect opportunity to watch your thoughts float by.
So if the benefits of meditation appeal to you but sitting in the lotus pose doesn’t, try this.
Household chores are the perfect opportunity for mini-meditation sessions.
The next time you’re doing a chore like washing dishes or folding laundry, turn off the radio. Focus on the movement of your hands and the sensations of the activity. Don’t get caught up in your thoughts; let them float by. Allow yourself to sink into the comforting rhythm of repetition.
Give your mind a break. It deserves it—and so do you.