Not Meditating? 10 Reasons You Should Be
Rumbling chants of “om.” Silent retreats in a far-away locale. These are the things we think of when we hear the word meditation. But more and more, it seems friends and role models are touting the ancient practice for its revolutionary impact of their lives—for the better. We spoke with Christian Bevacqua, an independent teacher of Vedic Meditation (the same practice as the buzzy—and trademarked—Transcendental Meditation) of Green Tree Meditation in Venice, California. A Brooklyn-born Wall Street expat, musician, and longtime meditator, Bevacqua is passionate about the practice’s growing accessibility and its many benefits. Read on for 10 very good reasons he thinks we should all be doing it.
Who should meditate? According to Bevacqua, it runs the gamut: “Existentialists, Uber drivers, fashion models, dudes with beards, anyone who goes on Facebook.” He continues, “I can’t think of a scenario where someone couldn’t benefit from meditation. After all, the Dalai Lama still meditates, and he’s already one of the most enlightened people on the planet.”
Vedic, the particular form of meditation that Bevacqua practices and teaches, is particularly approachable. Much like yoga, it can be enjoyed by anyone, regardless of religious, cultural, or professional alignments, and has actually always been intended for “householders”—those with jobs, families, and responsibilities.
No, you don’t need to embark on a long-term silent meditation retreat, worship a particular religion, or give up all your worldly possessions and become vegan if you meditate.
Bevacqua explains, “Some traditions of meditation have a monastic orientation, practicing for hours a day or even needing to go away for extended periods. For the vast majority of us, that's not a sustainable approach.” A 20-minute practice that can be incorporated into any number of lifestyles, and won’t interrupt or derail your normal responsibilities, is a great solution. While a period of intensive meditating will almost certainly be difficult to return from, this short-term practice is like dipping into a blissful vacation. It’s pleasant, rather than painful, to return to everyday life.
The mention of meditation used to make people edgy or have them recalling ’60s-era hippie stereotypes. But more and more public figures are becoming devotees (Hello, Mr. Lynch), which has brought the topic to the table and demystified it. “Instead of it being perceived as some weird, esoteric thing, people hear about it, read about it, and are generally curious.” If your interest is piqued, do some research, find a teacher, and get some instruction. “It could save you years of troubleshooting,” Bevacqua advises.
Feeling unconvinced that you’d be able to find the time? Bevacqua gives us busy bees an assuring pass: “Develop a regular meditation practice. That could be once a day or once a week or once a month. If a student only does it once a day, or once every other day, they'll still feel benefits. It's better than not doing it at all.”
Good news for the beginners out there or anyone worried about messing up: Even a “failed” meditation session is useful and worthwhile. If after some time you notice you’ve been taking stock of that to-do list in your head, Bevacqua says that the test really comes in with your ability to leave the list behind and return to meditating.
Beginners often report increased energy, calmness, and greater clarity right away, within weeks. Bevacqua uses the analogy of a glass filled with fizzy soda. Most of us operate at the top level of the glass, amid all the bubbles, excitement, and quickness. Meditating drops us down to the bottom of the glass, where the soda is calm. A “de-excited” mental state means that you will have more space to parse out the most important and pressing thoughts, and have better control over emotional responses, too.
This one should strike a cord for any millennials out there. “For young people especially, it's about being constantly plugged in, needing to be constantly available. Demands are high because availability needs to be high, Bevacqua says: “That's not going away! [Social connectivity] is only going to become more integrated into the fabric of our lives, as technology becomes increasingly miniaturized and more easily wearable.” Learning how to reboot is essential, he notes. “And sleep alone doesn't necessarily cut it.”
Many people begin becoming interested in meditation because they are seeking change, or even as a drastic measure when they’ve hit rock bottom. Bevacqua recommends early adoption: “I prefer people getting into it so that life doesn't become ‘bad enough.’”
Scientific research into the effects of meditation suggests it has a measurable impact on our biology and psychology. Benefits of regular, sustained practice may include lowered stress and anxiety levels, increased energy, sharper thinking and problem-solving skills, reduction in addictive behaviors, lower cholesterol, relief from headaches, and more.
Not sure you can find the time to meditate? Bevacqua urges us to think of meditation as a break, or a treat you give yourself. Skip the cigarette break, and meditate instead. “All the time you spend on YouTube or Facebook, or just surfing the net, take half that time and do a little meditation!”
According to Bevacqua, you should feel encouraged to meditate anywhere you feel safe to close your eyes. Airplanes, the subway, and park benches are all fair game. This means there’s no need to find the “perfect” time or place to meditate. If you become too particular about your surroundings, worrying about the lighting, sound level, and the like—“a feathered nest” approach, as he calls it—you create barriers, which impede the practice’s accessibility. So, just do it. “Put a daily meditation practice into the same category as breathing, eating, sleeping,” he says. “Make it non-negotiable, and it will revolutionize your life.”
Are you interested in meditation? Scroll to shop some items that you may like to have around during practice.