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At BodiScience Wellness Center & Spa, owner Dawn Tardif and her staff possess an uncanny ability to put even the most stressed-out person at ease. While it may seem unusual to the average person to encounter an entire group of people so focused and at peace, this is exactly the state of mind that the BodiScience staff works to create in clients. And the reason it works is because they personally practice what they preach. When you are truly centered and focused from the inside, as Tardif is, it shows. As she explains it, Tardif began meditating at a young age, far before she even realized what she was actually doing. As she grew, she continued her practice and eventually came to study under Dr. Deepak Chopra.

Hearing Tardif explain the concept of meditation leaves little question as to why this is an endeavor everyone should be pursuing. It’s the reason introducing meditation workshops at BodiScience made so much sense to her.

Meditation helps reduce stress, anxiety, depression, and more, and can also play a real role in warding off physical sickness and ailments. “If you are taking care of yourself, you are less likely to get sick, and if you do, you are able to bounce back more quickly,” says Tardif. She adds that “making the investment in yourself to meditate [is a practice that] really pays off.”

Meditation over time has also been shown to have antiaging properties and can reduce the inflammation in the body that often leads to disease. As you meditate more, your body will start to crave it, says Tardif. When you are purposeful about meditation, you need not “rely on your own willpower to get it done,” she says. Meditation is something our bodies want us to do, because they “have an innate system to repair themselves if we allow them to.”

We may not think of it in these terms, but in today’s fast-paced world many of us (if not most of us) are living in a state of fight or flight. This is an exhausting cycle for our bodies to be engaged in. Intentional meditation practice leads the “body and the mind into a very different world” from the one we have grown accustomed to existing in. Meditation connects mental health with the physical and is preventative, which is perhaps the most important element of meditation practice. “Americans, for the most part, are very reactive,” says Tardif, and because meditation is such an effective preventative, it’s too bad that many people will not take up the practice until “their suffering health requires new action on their part.”

The meditation workshops at BodiScience teach those who enroll about “the why” of meditation; there is a lot of discussion and education. Tardif does not expect anyone, including herself, to come into a session and sit silently for hours on end. If you have thoughts, this is perfectly natural. The key, Tardif says, is to allow yourself to “fall into the little silence between the thoughts; that’s the benefit of meditation.” Coming together with a group to learn about and practice meditation is valuable because a group setting allows people to connect with one another. “It raises the vibration and allows everyone to meet on a different level,” she says.

Meditation can also help in less expected ways. Many people who meditate report increased concentration and a better ability to problem-solve and approach issues with creative solutions. It makes sense that if your mind is clearer, and in a sense cleaner, there is more space for new ideas to flow through.

Research has shown that meditation has the ability to change the way parts of the brain operate, and many people have found relief from chronic pain and other ailments after practicing meditation. But beyond any of these health benefits, the greatest reason to meditate is to make time for yourself. It is not something you do instead, but rather something you add to your life to improve all of the other things you have going on.

We are all bogged down by thoughts that do not serve us, and meditation offers an opportunity to be free from them and develop a mind that cannot be controlled by fear or sadness, or even a stressful day. The workshops at BodiScience are designed to help bring about an awareness of all of these things.

It matters little to Tardif whether you start big or start small; just start. Your mind, your body, and likely everyone you encounter will be better off for it.