We’ve all heard that meditation is good for us, that it can improve our health, make us less stressed, better at relationships, and even happier.
So why doesn’t everyone meditate?
I think pop culture is partly to blame. In movies and TV, meditation is practiced by people with top-knots, scraggly beards, hairy legs, and a complete disregard for things like science and reality.
In the real world, meditation is practiced by a wide cross-section of the population and can be done by anyone. Even The Simpsons.
And there’s even a body of scientific evidence to show that the benefits of meditation are very real.
To find out more about who meditates and how they do it, we interviewed musicians, comedians, entrepreneurs, writers, designers and of course, a few yoga teachers.
Here’s what they had to to say.
(Use the links below to jump to a specific person, or scroll to meet them all.)
Artists & Performers
Assya Barrette, Content Marketer
Miguel Guzmán, Personal Development Engineer
Murielle Marie, Mentor, Coach, Writer
Stephanie LH Calahan, Mentor & Coach
Brenda Godinez, Nutrition Writer
Artists & Performers
James Valentine, Musician
“Lately I have been doing meditations based on the teachings of Shinzen Young. I’d point people to his website rather than try to describe the practices myself. I did do Transcendental Meditation for a while which I found to be a great practice, but lately have found Shinzen’s approach to be more suitable for me.
Since I don’t have a regular schedule, regular practice can be a challenge. I get in a rhythm, then fall out, and then come back. I have to not be too hard on myself for falling away from the practice because it can prevent me from getting back into it! Ideally I am practicing once in the morning and once in the afternoon. When I’m on tour I especially like to sit in the afternoon as part of my preshow routine.
By returning to my breath, it’s like I’m doing reps for my brain. Working on this muscle helps me stay calm and connected instead of constantly being carried away by my thoughts. This helps me focus, a tremendous help when creating or performing music.”
James Valentine is an accomplished musician, best known for as lead guitarist for Maroon 5.
Moby, Restaurateur & Musician
“I’m a non-dogmatic meditator. Some people religiously adhere to one practice or one tradition, which is fine, but I prefer to be a relaxed dilettante as regards meditating. I firmly believe the practice should be gentle and should serve the needs of the meditator, and not the needs of the teacher or the tradition.
It provides perspective, calms me down, strengthens my immune system, makes me happier, and helps me to see the world in a much different light.”
Stephanie Simbari, Comedian & Actress
“My meditation practice is a combination of things I’ve learned throughout the years from various teachers. But quite simply I do some light asana and then sit taking some deep breaths. I will do the Gayatri mantra and then go into my 3rd eye. Envisioning inside my head as a room, I try to make the room as clear and pristine as possible, visualizing myself removing obstacles and stagnant energy / dark blocks.
I would love to say I do it every day and I have had spurts of time where that is the case, however right now I’m only that disciplined like three times a week. But I don’t beat myself up about it. I just try to have an awareness of what’s going on with me. I think a conscious and healthy self-check-in is sometimes just as important as having a specific discipline.
I meditate because I have found it is an incredible way for me to take ten minutes for myself amid the insanity of daily life and go inward and see the height of the magic I can potentially access and pulling in at least a little bit in just by simply honing my own energy.
And instead of “honing” my own energy I wanna say FEELING.
I also feel like anything can be meditative like sometimes if I’m feeling really antsy it doesn’t help me to sit and go inward so I just like to walk I walk and walk and walk until i feel calm and whole again.”
Beatriz Caraballo, Creative Entrepreneur
“I don’t meditate every day, but about 2-3 times a week right after my morning yoga routine and for as long as my schedule lets me (5 to 15 min). I like to do it on the same yoga mat (since I always feel good whenever I step on it) and either in the master bedroom or any room of the house where I won’t be interrupted.
Depending on what feels right that day I either sit down with my legs crossed in a comfortable position or lay down on the mat relaxing all the muscles of my body. I close my eyes and focus on controlling my breathing, making it deeper than usual, and pushing away any thought that pops into my head by visualizing it leaving my body with my next exhale.
I started meditating because I was overwhelmed with my life. I was in a very stressful situation and I needed to stop thinking for just one moment so I could recalibrate myself and focus on one thing at a time. Coincidently, around the time I began doing yoga and meditating I discovered my passion for design, and with everything that has happened in my life this past year, it has helped me stay focus on what matters and what doesn’t.
I’ve found that both negative and positive thoughts leave the body with the visualization technique, but only the positive ones return. Why? because negative ones are a product of our own fear, they’re a lie. And as with any lie, you’ll only remember it as long as you keep repeating it.”
Leon Taylor, Mentor, Speaker, Olympic Silver Medallist
“My meditation practice has evolved over the years. I use the Headspace app – which I highly recommend. This has allowed me to develop my practice and gain consistency with it which is the most important part to anything. Consistency. I meditate daily – to build the skill I was meditating (10-20 mins using the app) every morning for over a year, sitting in a quiet spot (e.g. My front room or end of bed if in hotel!). Followed by my asana practice. Minimum of 5 minutes depending on my schedule. Today I meditate more on the move – on the train, in the park, in the afternoon, etc. I still use the app and I also sit quietly and follow my breath.
Meditation allows me to be still and settle. Taking the time to slow down allows me to actually move faster! A calm, centred mind and body is key to being really present in all areas of my life making them even more special.”
Leon Taylor holds an Olympic Silver Medal in diving and is a public speaker and motivational coach, BBC commentator and mentor to young athletes. Stephen first met Leon while teaching a lululemon community class in London.
Noah Mazé, Yoga Teacher & Teacher Trainer
“I sit for meditation every day in the morning. I have done this my whole life. I travel extensively, so there is no particular consistency with where outwardly. Regular meditation does give me consistency with where I am inwardly, regardless of my outer circumstances.
I sit for two main reasons; to find myself and to lose myself.
Meditation is a practice of finding myself, of coming back to myself, of receiving the experiences of somatic embodiment. It is essential time to inquire and investigate more deeply my thoughts and feelings and experiences.
Meditation is a practice of losing myself. As Gandalf said, “Not all who wander are lost.” It is a wandering exploration into the subconscious and unconscious realms of ourselves. It is a process of exploring the depths of the inner topographies of consciousness.
These practices help me to be more integrated, more self-aware, and better able to address the needs of the outer world with the wholeness of my being.”
Noah Mazé has been teacher and mentor to Stephen and Jane for years. He is an inspiring teacher and an all-round nice guy. Practice with him if you can.
Bernd Windhofer, Travelling Yoga Teacher
“My meditation practice has a certain degree of flexibility to it, as my schedule is very changeable. Essentially, I try to practice 2 hours per day, but if things get crazy, I do less. I tend to start with 20-30 mins lying down practice first, to connect to my body and the earth under me (brings a feeling of being settled and grounded), then sit up and spend half an hour with an open, present moment awareness, staying with the body as much as I can, allowing conceptual thinking to dissolve into body awareness. Then I move onto a classical practice, The Mindfulness of Breathing, which is a four stage meditation exploring the breath in different ways. I typically end with some informal visualization and mental mantra (particular sounds taught in various traditions, including the Buddhist traditions I follow).
If I am short for time, I do at least the lying and sitting with the body practice.
I meditate because, to put it simply, it makes everything better! My personal life, my work, my health, my decision-making skills. Another huge benefit is that life is overall far more vivid and colourful. My perceptions are far more alive and life feels always fresh and interesting. I also meditate because I have always been deeply drawn to the practice. It has always seemed obvious to me that we all need some time on a regular basis just to stop for a bit and allow the various toils and activities of our often insanely busy lives to settle.”
For the past several years, Bernd has been teaching around the world and is currently on staff at Desa Seni in Bali. We met Bernd in Shanghai in 2012, when he and Stephen were teaching yoga at the same studio, and have been friends ever since. Follow Bernd on Twitter.
Caz Makepeace, Co-Founder of YTravel
“Each morning I meditate immediately upon rising. I sit on my balcony as the sun rises over the ocean. My meditation can go from 20 to 60 minutes. My practice is to focus on and rebalance my chakras.
Meditation helps to ground and centre me. It gives me focus and clarity. It gives me a way to cope with the chaos of my lifestyle so that I can remain calm in the middle of it. Most importantly, meditation helps develop my awareness muscles, which are so vital so you can remain in control of your life.
I believe that I would not be living this life I love, nor have had the success we have had without it. When people ask me for advice on how to improve their life, I always tell them to start with meditation.”
Ivana & Gianna, Travel Writers
“We like meditating in the morning before work. Usually, it’s 3 to 4 times per week but during travel days it might be less. We sit either on a yoga mat that we travel with or in a Buddhist temple. Meditation helps us to focus better on work and to prioritize the tasks we need to do daily. It also creates space where we can stay alone with our thoughts and observe our body, mind and soul changes.”
Jane is a huge fan of Ivana & Gianni’s stunning travel blog Nomad Is Beautiful, where they blog about responsible, mindful, and eco-travel.
Jaclyn Mishal, Pink Pangea Co-Founder
“Through the study of both yoga and meditation, I’ve learned various types of meditation. As I learn new styles, I incorporate the techniques that resonate with me into my practice. These days, I do chakra meditations as well as pranayama and alternate nostril breathwork (which are not exactly meditations, but I find they take me to meditative state quicker than many other more popular styles of meditation). I also practice Bikram Yoga 2-4 times a week, which is a 90 minute opened eyed moving meditation. I’ve had wonderful experiences with Holotropic breathwork, however, I do not practice this style often.
I stay away from rules when it comes to my practice (in terms of how often and where). Some days, I meditate once for 5 minutes in the morning and others I meditate multiple times throughout the day anywhere from 5 minutes to three hours. As for where, I meditate in my apartment, outdoors, and in yoga studios.
The etymology of the word meditate comes from the Latin word, meditat which means “contemplated.” I meditate to contemplate all that I experience, think, and feel. To take in my experiences, observe them, and to integrate new information with my mind, body and spirit. When we don’t meditate we are often unable to integrate our experiences and we become reactive to situations instead of proactive. I meditate to stay centered, be in my power, and live an intentional purposeful life.”
Jaclyn leads writing and Fearless Living retreats around the world. Jane discovered Pink Pangea, Jaclyn’s community for women who love to travel, when they interviewed her. Like Pink Pangea on Facebook.
Solopreneurs/Personal Development Pros
Assya Barrette, Content Marketer
I aim to meditate once a day for at least 20 minutes, but in practice it ends up being around 3 times a week. I either sit on the ground against a wall, on my couch or on my bed.
I’m also a Muslim, and the religion instructs believers to pray 5 times a day. I count this in my spiritual and meditative practice.
I started meditating (the sit-down meditation, not the prayer) because I wanted to improve my focus. I’m a freelance writer and content marketer, and it’s so easy to get distracted by the sparkly world of the internet.
I do feel that my focus has improved, but the effects have been greater than this. I’ve found that I’m more optimistic, and the ups and downs of life affect me less. This is especially helpful in my business and for an anxious entrepreneur like me – business can be a bumpy ride.”
Miguel Guzmán, Personal Development Engineer
“I practice mindfulness meditation focusing on my breath. I meditate for 10 minutes just after waking up, on an empty stomach with only a glass of water. I meditate on a comfortable chair, closing my eyes and focusing on my breath.
Just after meditating I also do 10 minutes of basic cardio exercise at home (jumping jacks and the like).
I’m a fervent defendant of taking care of your powerful mind-body connection, they are intrinsically linked, so I do meditation and exercise together to activate both my mind and my body for the day.
Meditation for me is the staple of personal development. Though I use a variety of tools to manage my thoughts, emotions and actions (productivity techniques, visualizations and affirmations, NLP and so on…) for me daily meditation practice is the baseline on which I pile up everything else.
An agitated mind is like a boiling pot, mindfulness lets me quiet it and turn it into a peaceful lake.
After the meditation session I am able to plan my day with clarity and a sense of direction, and then start working with laser-like focus and not get sidetracked by distractions. Meditation is truly exercise for your attention muscle!
And on the long term, I can definitely say that being able to keep a calm, quiet mind, has diffused my reactiveness: you become much more stoic in the face of unexpected events.
Also it helps you to be in the present moment all day long (except when desired. e.g. when planning for the future or reviewing the past) which leads to a sustained warm state of happiness.
I wholeheartedly recommend you all to try meditation for a couple weeks. Once you feel the benefits you’ll be in for a lifetime! :)”
Miguel Guzmán is a Personal Development Engineer, helping people with scientific-backed, field-tested methods for developing skills and improving results. He writes (in Spanish) at Éxito Personal.
Murielle Marie, Mentor, Coach, Writer
“I do different things and my practice varies depending on what is happening in my life. I travel a lot and when I’m not home I will do some meditation in bed before going to sleep or first thing in the morning. When I’m at home I will do longer sessions, mostly in the evening. 30 minutes of breathing meditation or guided, depending on how busy my mind is. I will also do 5-minute breathing sessions to ground me when I have hectic days and need to calm down and focus.
I believe that being an entrepreneur is a spiritual path. And to be a good entrepreneur is to know yourself well (light and shadow) and to be in touch with your body and your soul. I started my meditation practice to help with that. I also wanted a way to connect better with my intuition and to find stillness for reflection, and meditation has given me that. And third and foremost I wanted a place I could go to that was love, compassion, and peace. I feel we need that in our lives and our businesses.
Now, how has meditation helped me? I’m more calm because of my practice, more spiritual. It helps me to make better decisions and it makes me more creative. Meditation helps my mind expand and widen to places I never thought possible. It makes me question everything, but also gives me a simple answer to the most difficult questions: simply being.”
Murielle Marie helps multi-passionate and high-achieving women overcome the mental blocks that stop them from getting into action, going after their dreams and loving themselves. Connect with her on Facebook.
Stephanie LH Calahan, Mentor & Coach
“I have been meditating for a number of years and have found different forms helpful at different times. I have done simple, focused breath meditation, guided meditation, and walking meditation. I meditate and pray daily, usually before I get out of bed in the morning and before I go to sleep at night. Unlike many that meditate, I’ve found it easiest if I’m lying on my back with my arms at my side or over my heart. The only exception is when I’m doing a walking meditation.
I had a health scare a number of years ago. At that time, I was told it was critical to slow down. I had no clue how to do that! I tried and failed at meditation a few times until I found a combination that worked for me. Starting with guided meditations really helped me. I could listen to the words on the recording and focus where I wanted my mind to go. Since then, I have found that meditation has a significant impact on my health as well as my business growth, so I keep doing it. I have created various guided meditations for myself and my clients that focus on mindset, business, and health. I have found my ability to manage stress has improved significantly, my creativity with problem solving has jumped way up, my weight went down, my confidence went up, my sales went up, and my clients results even improved.”
“Although my practice involves meditating whenever possible, lately, I seem to be hitting the 3 times a day marks with decent consistency. Not including moving meditation like my Qi Gong and yoga practice. I figured since I was forced to set calendar times of day to remind to eat, I might as well schedule some escape and refresh time as well.
I usually like to sit or lay wherever I sleep and/or dream to mediate. Laying down or sitting in lotus position. Really depends on my energy levels or the spot as I like to meditate outdoors as well.
As an entrepreneur, who works from home, I tend to get insanely absorbed in my projects and helping others, I know, no one knows what that’s like here *grins.* I have meditated since I was a kid in some form or another. It has helped me with every aspect of my life. It’s a form of healing for me during the bad and the ugly and another source of joy during the good in my life, adventures and loves.
I could talk for days about meditation and moving meditation which I am practicing right now with Pandora spinning my Indian vibes radio in my ears. I always joke with people that come to me asking for advice about meditation because they’re struggling. I say, “If you’re struggling, you’re doing it wrong.
It’s a joke, yes, and always followed by giggles but, my first advice always is take 3 deep breaths with me right now. Boom! Meditation lesson 1. Yep, people have been telling you that your whole entire life!”
Jennifyre is a rowdy, blessed universe traveler who writes, sings, dreams and dances through the daze. She and Jane crossed paths online.
Brenda Godinez, Nutrition Writer
“I meditate at least 4 times a week in the morning, after having green tea and before working out. I go to a separate room I set up only for meditation and working out at home. I do it either in silence or with a guided meditation from a free app called Calm. I meditate from 10 to 15 minutes. When I can’t meditate on the morning, I meditate at night for 5 minutes because it’s really important to not break the habit to get the most benefits out of my practice.
I meditate to deal with worry and to control my feelings better. I know if I can be more aware of how certain situations make me feel, I can choose the best reaction to it. I’m working hard on mastering my reactions and thoughts as much as I can so that I can have more control over what I do. I struggle with procrastination, so that is one thing I’m working on. So far I have seen I have become more aware of my negative feelings and it has been easier to let things go and realize it is just temporary. I have improved my procrastination by realizing when my actions don’t align with my intentions. Also, because I’ve felt more aware of how I feel, I have felt and practice more gratitude.”
We’d love to meditate with you.
During the first seven days of 2016, Stephen will lead a 7-Day Meditation Kick Start. It’s perfect if you’re a meditation novice or you just want to add some vitality back into your practice.
What’s your experience with meditation? How often and where do you practice? How does it benefit you? Share your comments below.