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Can you meditate your way to happiness? I truly believe it can, especially if you look at happiness as a feeling of contentment or satisfaction in the moment. There are many ways to meditate with many different goals to be achieved. Recently, the popular meditation app Headspace released a new series on Meditations for Happiness that is specifically designed to help you feel happier.
I recently completed this 10-day program, and I wanted to share what I gained with you.
What Are the Benefits of Meditation?
Meditation practice is rooted deep in ancient history, but it is also a topic of modern science. In fact, there have been hundreds of research studies that verify that meditation really does have a powerful impact on the human body and mind. Just look at all the benefits it offers:
- Lower blood pressure
- Increased blood circulation
- Decreased heart rate
- Reduced anxiety
- Decreased cortisol levels
- Decreased stress
- Increased relaxation
- Increased contentment
- Improved feelings of well-being
- Increased feelings of peace
- Sharpened focus
- Lessened feelings of pain and discomfort
- All this and absolutely no negative effects
Meditating with Headspace
First, a little about Headspace. It is a membership program that provides both guided and freeform meditations. I have the app on both my phone and my computer, and I use it daily – often multiple times!
There are meditations for waking up, going to sleep, dealing with difficult emotions, cravings, and so much more. There are tutorials, tips for beginners, and live group meditations. You’ll even find an extensive section discussing the science behind meditation, and the research they use to develop their programs.
“Meditation is like a gym in which you develop the powerful mental muscles of calm and insight.”Ajahn Brahm
I think it’s important that I point out that Headspace at this time does NOT offer an affiliate program – I have nothing to gain from your joining, other than the satisfaction of helping you learn a new skill (and that’s enough for me!). And yes, meditation is a skill that takes practice to learn, but the benefits can be experienced immediately.
Headspace generously offers a free trial, as well as giving two free weeks when you choose an annual membership (which in itself is only $70, or about $5/week!!). It’s one of the very few apps I actually pay for, and it’s worth every penny.
My Headspace Journey
I started using the Headspace app just over a year ago, at a time when I was having trouble falling asleep. My daughter recommended it, so I enrolled in the free trial to give it a try.
Although I am not a newbie to meditation, this was my first recorded guided meditation experience. When I started, Headspace offered three options for sleep-inducing meditation – Sleepcasts (storytelling), Wind-downs (breathing), and Sleep Music. There are many selections to be made within each of these categories, and you can choose the length of each session as well. I found I only needed a few minutes of the sleep music before I was sawing logs, and to this day, I consistently fall asleep easily when using Headspace.
More recently, the app has added Nighttime SOS (guided exercises for when you wake up in the middle of the night), Soundscapes (recordings), and Sleep Radio, which lasts up to eight hours. Clearly, I am not the only person who benefits from their sleep collection!
Because I was so successful with curing my sleep issues, I was ready to gain more from Headspace, so I dove into the twenty-day beginners course. And I’ve only continued on from there. I’m an addict of the best kind.
After a year, I’ve logged nearly 4,000 minutes of meditation. Yes, the program tracks your use automatically, as well as keeping track of where you are in any of the multi-day sessions.
Meditation for Happiness
Recently, Headspace debuted the Meditation for Happiness Series, which includes ten days of guided meditation each lasting 10-15 minutes. You choose the length of your session each day. I will say that I have a far greater sense of peace in the world than I did before – and yes, this is in the middle of the COVID-19 Crisis! If that doesn’t offer proof that meditation works, I don’t know what will!
“Meditation and concentration are the way to a life of serenity.”Baba Ram Dass
So what happens during these ten-fifteen minutes each day to help you feel more content?
Very briefly, here’s the focus of each day:
Day 1: You start with a visualization technique, finding and radiating a pinprick of light from within you. You also learn how to do a mental body scan to be more aware of your physical and emotional state.
Day 2: Focus on your motivation for meditating and learn about the connection between kindness and contentment.
Day 3: Contemplate your kindness toward yourself, and how to create a softer, more gentle internal dialogue.
Day 4: Learn about empathy and shared experience.
Day 5: Examine ways to process difficult feelings and situations.
Day 6: Cultivating enjoyment and a sense of play.
Day 7: Connecting to a lighter and more playful mind.
Day 8: Finding balance of the mind and awareness of distractions. Learning to be present.
Day 9: Finding balance in the way you cultivate happiness with different groups of people.
Day 10: Combining the lessons into one practice.
“Learn to be calm and you will always be happy.”Paramahansa Yogananda
How to Meditate: Tips for Beginners
Just do it. Don’t worry about how or if you are doing it “right”. Just sit down with the intention that this is your meditation time.
Set your intention to meditate for just two minutes. Focus on those two minutes and don’t worry about extending it until you are ready. Two minutes is enough to start.
Choose a comfortable position. It’s not necessary to sit cross-legged on the floor if that’s not comfortable for you. You can meditate just as well seated in a comfortable chair or on the couch.
A guided meditation program is much easier to use than going it alone, especially when just starting out.
Try to schedule your meditation time for early in the morning, and be consistent.
Focus on long, slow breaths.
Accept that your mind will wander. It will. All you need to do is acknowledge that it’s wandering, and refocus on your breathing.
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Final Thoughts On Meditation and Happiness
Particularly in these challenging times that we are living in, we are all feeling a greater sense of stress. Meditation is an excellent proven stress reducer that can be done anytime, anywhere, by anyone. It’s helpful to learn basic meditation techniques through a guided tutorial such as the Headspace app and expand your practice at the pace that works for you.
Yes, meditation can make you happier.
Will you give meditation a try?