There aren’t many of us who wouldn’t benefit from meditation. In our hectic modern world, simply dedicating 20 minutes a day to peace, quiet and reflection is an act of self-care, giving us the space we need to slow down and switch off. However, there are times in life when the need for meditation can feel particularly keen, and if you recognize these signs, it may be time to start, ramp up or recommit to your meditation habit.
1. You are tired more often than not
Feeling exhausted all the time is a common issue for us modern humans. So many of us drag ourselves out of bed, power ourselves through the day with caffeine and then – despite feeling tired all day – find it difficult to sleep at night. Every month in the USA, people type “tired all the time” 18,100 times into Google, a small hint of just how many of us feel dogged by fatigue.
This kind of weariness seems to be a symptom of our increasingly demanding lives, and many of us wish for more motivation and energy. With more energy, we wouldn’t spend our work days in a waking doze, banking up unfinished tasks and creating stress. It would also be easier to achieve our goals in other areas of life – it’s not unusual to find ourselves crashed out on the sofa when we do have any spare time, rather than doing any of the stuff we aimed to do.
Meditation gives us some of the rest we need in life. By focusing our mind on a mantra, practicing yoga or embracing mindfulness, we soothe our mind and body into a state of deep relaxation, allowing ourselves to switch off in a way that’s otherwise hard to achieve. This, in turn, gives us the energy boost we need, and generally makes us feel that little bit more awesome throughout the day.
2. It feels like you have no time
Time is something of a preoccupation in today’s culture. Our whole lives are defined by the almost arbitrary whims of the clock, in a way it would probably be difficult for our distant ancestors to imagine. Instead of following the cyclical, seasonal and celestial-based timekeeping of early humans, whose major concern was keeping the tribe fed and safe, we sacrifice much of our time to earning money and squeeze everything else in whatever time we have left.
The result is a feeling that we simply don’t have enough time to pursue our own hobbies, build our relationships, or to just laze about if we fancy it. The speed at which the world zips by imbues us all with a false sense of urgency, where any delays or mishaps feel like an absolute disaster. Amongst the rush, we can forget about what’s actually important.
While meditation can’t stop the clock, it can slow the pace of life a little through a change in our perception. Meditating every day provides us with a sense of calm, increasing our focus so we can appreciate the small things in life. Furthermore, because meditation can make us more productive, we tend to work through tasks with more speed and accuracy, giving us more time to simply enjoy ourselves.
3. ‘Stressed’ is your default state
It’s pretty normal to get stressed out every now and then, but being stressed all the time is a completely different matter. Unfortunately, like tiredness, the feeling of being constantly under pressure is something an awful lot of us can relate to. Chronic stress can make life feel far less enjoyable, as we are rarely “in the moment” but always thinking about whatever’s nagging away at us. Too much of this, and life begins to feel like it’s nothing but a meaningless list of chores and worries.
One of meditation’s most famous and well-research benefits is reduced stress. With stress causing havoc for our health, sleep and mental wellbeing, it’s this benefit which is perhaps the most far-reaching of all.
In many respects, meditation (in all its forms and throughout the ages) has been developed to direct the mind away from the mundane and everyday, in order to experience glimpses of the deeper truths in life. It may well be this which helps us rise above persistent worries and daily frustrations, making stress something we can manage without becoming overwhelmed.
Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Holly Ashby. Holly is a wellness writer who works with Will Williams Meditation, a meditation center offering an alternative to mindfulness in London, and holds meditation events such as the music-based Shavasana Disco.