Guest blog by Emma Seppälä.
We’ve heard that meditation can help with so many things, from focus to sleep. But it also has another tremendously valuable added benefit: it improves our relationships. You may wonder how a seated and isolated activity—after all, even if you’re meditating in a group, you’re not talking to anyone—can help improve your social skills and relationship prowess, but research shows it does. Here’s how.
It’s mid-morning and I’ve just finished a client’s photo edits. Light pours into our living room through south-facing windows, tiny dust particles dancing and defying gravity in the rays. I place my meditation cushion in the center of the rug, my brass singing bowl sitting off to the side. I turn my phone’s ringer off and set my timer for 20 minutes. With one swift tap of the velvet-covered stick, the singing bowl chimes a long, unwavering sound that slowly fades. I close my eyes, inhale through my nose, and exhale through my mouth. “Hello,” I say.
I, like so many, thought meditation was something only others could do. Others, for example, without quarreling children, looming deadlines or hips that mutinied at the thought of the Lotus Position. Those with minds that didn’t race like a toddler on Red Bull.
Although I wanted to be someone who meditated, I wasn’t someone who meditated.
Someday, I would tell myself, imagining that glorious future when my children, work schedule, muscles, joints and mind would finally and fully cooperate.
But while I was waiting, the research piled up. About how meditation improves memory. Boosts the immune system. Lowers our resting heart rate. Makes us calmer. Happier. Healthier.
I wanted some of that. Not later but now.
Meditation does not come naturally — at least, not to me. I’m easily distracted, there are a million things on my “mom mind” and I feel a little guilty when I’m not doing something productive. But I work at Gaiam: I have seen the benefits with my very own eyes, and the reasons to meditate are convincing! Besides, I work at Gaiam: Shouldn’t I at least try meditating?
As much as it pained me to admit, meditation was not changing my life. I’d been curious about it for years, imagining that I would magically morph from a Type A, prone to loud laughter and occasional drama, into an ethereal entity whose “problems” would dissolve in the face of age-old wisdom. I would wear long, flowy clothes and speak in a gentle whisper. I would never sweat. Or swear.