5 Reasons to Meditate

Here are 5 reasons to start meditating.
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Here are 5 reasons to start meditating.

1. Meditation changes your brain. It's easy to see how yoga poses can change our bodies--stretching and strength-building exercises physically change muscles and creates a deeper awareness. But did you know that meditation has a similar effect on your brain? Research has proven that meditating restructures your brain and can actually train it to be calmer, more focused, and better at dealing with stress.

2. It's part of the 8-limb path.Dhyana, or meditation, is the seventh limb of yoga as written by Patanjali in the Yoga Sutra thousands of years ago. Personally, my experience with the physical practice of yoga has been so beneficial that I'm convinced those ancient Indian sages knew what they were talking about. And for them, the whole point of asana was to get their bodies and minds ready to sit still to meditate!

3. Concentrate more. This is a no-brainer! The more you practice focusing on your breath (or a mantra or visualization), the better you'll get at concentrating in general. Meditating can teach you to give your full attention to your loved ones and other important aspects of your life. You might learn to complete work tasks without taking a break to check your email and Facebook feed every five seconds!

4. Stress less. I don't know about you, but when it comes to managing stress, I need all the help I can get. I have a theory that yoga fanatics become yoga fanatics because they are not naturally good at stress--so they have to practice asana for hours every day just to keep it under control. Sometimes, even that's not enough for me. That's why I started meditating. I'm not very good at it yet, but I wasn't good at Triangle Pose when I tried to do it at first either. So, I know if I keep at it, eventually it will pay off.

5. Understand yourself, so you can understand others. If meditation offers you insight into yourself, it will offer you insight into others, too. Whether you believe in the idea that we're all one or not, it's clear that if you spend time getting to know yourself, you'll begin to feel empathy and compassion for yourself and others. Nothing makes you feel better about living in this world than understanding and forgiving shortcomings.

Do you meditate? What motivates you to keep at it?

Erica Rodefer is a writer and yoga practitioner in Charleston, SC. Visit her blog, Spoiledyogi.com, follow her on Twitter, or like her on Facebook.