Why Meditation Can Make You a Better TherapistApr 21, 2023
With World Meditation Day coming up next month (May 21, in case you’re interested), now is as good a time as any to talk about the life-changing (and career-transforming) benefits that the simple act of meditation can have on any one of us.
Like a spring clean for the mind, meditation helps you to clear your thoughts and make space for new ideas, fresh inspiration, and a real sense of calm – which, in today’s incredibly hectic world of work and home and everything in between, is just what the doctor (or therapist) ordered.
So let’s take a look at why meditation is good for you, how it can help you in your career, and what benefits it can have for your clients.
Making meditation a daily practice
We can trace the practice of meditation back to 3,000 years B.C. – and if something’s stuck around for that long, there has to be something in it, right?
If you’re new to meditation, it simply refers to a set of techniques that people can use to achieve greater awareness and focus in their lives, with the ultimate aim of attaining a state of calm stability – both mentally and emotionally. With so many of us struggling to manage our own wellbeing, and mental health conditions like anxiety and depression getting worse across the board, meditation is an essential practice for modern-day living.
So many things that are good for us can feel like they take too much time and effort to really commit to, but there’s plenty of research to suggest that spending just 20 minutes a day in meditation can have a real impact on your emotional and mental state.
Anything that has notable benefits for mental health and wellbeing is going to lead to positive changes in a person’s life and career, but this is even more pronounced for mental health professionals. You spend so much of your time listening to other people’s struggles that it can really take its toll; meditation is a way for you to switch off and reconnect with your inner peace – allowing you to bring your best self to your clients every time.
Finding your way to meditate
Meditation is a very personal thing: you can meditate last thing at night, first thing in the morning, or even when you’re sitting at your desk. You can follow guided meditations, listen to music, or sit in silence. You might choose to focus on a word, an object, or close your eyes and tune into your breathing.
There are also different types of meditation:
1. Loving-kindness meditation: This form of meditation is all about fostering feelings of loving-kindness to others – even your enemies.
2. Body scan or progressive relaxation: This type of meditation is great if you’re holding physical tension in your body, as it encourages you to scan your body – from head to toe – to locate areas of tension, before tensing and then releasing.
3. Mindfulness meditation: If you want to focus your mind on the here and now, this branch of meditation encourages you to let go of the past, stop worrying about the future, and give your mind over to the present.
4. Breath awareness meditation: This type of meditation helps you to focus on your breathing, which is great at easing feelings of anxiety. By breathing slowly and deeply while counting your breaths, you become more aware of the natural rhythms of your body.
5. Transcendental meditation: Spiritual in nature, transcendental meditation is about rising above your current state of being.
If you don’t know where to start, there are loads of apps to help you with the practice of meditation – from apps that guide you through each practice, to apps that help you to make meditation a daily habit. Some of my favourites include in no specific order:
- Headspace – perhaps the most well known
- Ten Percent Happier Meditation – best for beginners
- Calm – best for helping you to sleep
- Insight Timer – best on a budget
- Buddhify – the best guided meditations
- Unplug – the best for focus
- Simple Habit – the best range
- Breathwrk – the best for breathing techniques
- Hayhouse Meditation app - The one I love to use myself
Once you’ve got the hang of it, you might want to go it alone – but apps are a great place to start.
Encouraging your clients to meditate
Meditation isn’t only great for you as a mental health professional; it can also be a first-rate resource to employ for your clients.
Because the practice of meditation helps us to live in the present, let go of worrying thoughts, clear the mind of clutter, and find moments of calm in our busiest and most stressful times, it can be incredibly effective for anyone who may be struggling with their mental health and wellbeing.
Whether you introduce your clients to meditation by verbal recommendation, in a work sheet, or by playing a guided meditation during their session with you, there’s a lot to be gained by sharing the art of meditation far and wide.
Learn more about World Meditation Day.
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