By Arden Martin. Originally posted on ardenmeditates.com
Meditating is the easiest thing I do all day, and in a society where focusing and accomplishments are celebrated, the effortlessness of meditating feels even better. We can't be in "hustle hard" mode 24/7; in fact, people who hustle especially long and hard need a tool to recharge their brains so they can continue said hustling. Otherwise, burnout is inevitable.
Not only does meditation de-excite your nervous system, induce deep rest, and trigger your mind to let go of thought completely (goodbye stress!), it allows you to come out feeling supercharged on the other side. Better yet, it's the easiest thing you'll do all day. Yes, it's even easier than lifting a spoon from a pint of ice cream to your mouth (which I can tell you from experience is also quite simple, especially with Ben and Jerry's Americone Dream).
For many of us, go-to relaxing activities include exercise, reading/phone scrolling, and, let's be real, snacking. Although snacking is one of the best parts of being human, it's definitely not as effortless as meditating. When it's time to eat, you have lots things to consider: what to eat, how much, and how you feel about that choice. Once you've finished the food, your body is still working hard to digest it. And depending on what you ate, especially if it was comfort food consumed in a stressful state, you may not be left feeling supercharged and ready to conquer.
What about exercise? Many of us insist we'd go insane without a good sweat, and the success of Soulcycle is living proof. I personally enjoy a neighborhood stroll most nights, but sometimes I just don't feel like moving. Meditation, which only requires finding a seat (on a bed, couch, train, park bench, etc.), is an infinitely easier pick-me-up. Furthermore, exercise excites the nervous system and, in many cases, adds stress to already stressed bodies and minds. Although incredibly valuable in its own right, exercise isn't always the best way to recharge. Even reading a favorite book (or browsing Facebook), which requires no movement at all, does involve focus and concentration. And although a well-chosen book (or inspiring Instagram quote) can be the perfect antidote to a stressful day, it doesn't replace the physical and mental rest that meditation provides.
Meditation is no different from food, exercise, and Facebook in that they all flood the brain with dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins - but meditation is completely effortless and removes stress from the body.
Now, there are two relaxing activities that may be just as effortless as meditation: napping and television. I'll be the first to admit that TV is truly wonderful - nothing makes me cackle louder than Curb Your Enthusiasm - but meditation has the added bonus of leaving you refreshed and clear when it's over. Even the best TV, on the other hand, can leave you feeling ready for a nap. Speaking of naps, there's no denying that sleep is restful. But according to recent studies, meditation gives your body rest up to five times deeper than sleep, and that's pretty irreplaceable. In fact, it's the key to stress relief.
When it's time to step away from the realities of our day-to-day grind, there are plenty of ways to relax. However, meditation is the easiest of them all and yields a tremendous payoff: increased mental clarity, an amazing surge of energy, and ultimately, a happier existence.