The wellness world has seen its fair share of trends and fads over the years. From ridiculous diets to superstitious rituals, every once and a while, someone comes up with an idea and the masses flock to it like ants to a sugar-cube.
Meditation is one such a trend that gained some traction of late, and there might actually be more to it than just another bandwagon for everyone to hop on. When it isn’t just the yogis that swear by it, but scientists as well, then there has to be some truth to the trend.
What is meditation really?
We are all familiar with the image of a monk sitting with his legs crossed, humming with his eyes closed and supposedly meditating. But, is this really what meditation is? Not quite. Although it involves concentration and some or another form of breathing control, it is much more than this. True meditation is a state of mind where you are in complete peace, and while you are absolutely calm, you are also extremely alert.
This is one of the reasons why major corporate companies like Nike, Sony, and Apple invest in wellness programs and meditation programs. The Society for Human Resource Management stated that 41% of workers agreed that having a wellness program in place, encourages them to work harder and be more efficient.
It is fair to think that meditation is, in fact, a trend, seeing that it has grown into a billion dollar industry. Jeanine Langford, who heads the HR Dept at Superior Papers, says, ‘’People are overworked and are looking for an escape from the rush of the world. Human desperation is a great motivator for seemingly providing a solution to problems.’’ She adds, ‘’It is because of this very reason that numerous quick fix services have been popping up on your device and city street corner near you.’’
There are many apps like Headspace and Buddhifi that are designed to help you get rid of your stress. Not to mention the meditation retreats that offer services like deep sleep and crystal therapy. Wherever you are, you don’t have to look far to find a space where you can join in on meditation session. But do these sessions help you or is it like a quick fix, designed to take the edge off a stressful day?
The proof is in the science
In a study that was published in the Journal of Neuroscience, the focus was squarely on mindfulness meditation and how it could be used as a cure for pain relief. By practicing this type of meditation, one could mimic the effects of opioids.
According to the study, when one practices mindfulness meditation, the areas of the brain that contain high amounts of opioid receptors get activated. It works on the premise that non-judgmental attention is directed towards an arising sensory event.
Mindful meditation then reduces pain by engaging the mechanisms that support the cognitive control of pain. So in a way, the pain really is all in the mind.
Benefits of meditation
Regardless of whether you believe that meditation has any benefit for you or not, there are some serious benefits to consider before blowing it off as a waste of time. One of the key benefits of meditation is stress relief. More and more research is beginning to show that meditation is associated with the reduction of stress. The technique has been developed in the East for thousands of years and is beginning to gain more and more ground in the West.
Together with the reduction of stress, it also helps with controlling anxiety and promotes emotional health. A further benefit of meditation is that it creates an enhanced state of self-awareness which then also translates into higher levels of concentration.
The medical benefits of meditation are also being investigated, and so far, it has been found to improve cardiovascular circulation. It causes a person to relax which increases nitric oxide. This causes the blood vessels to open up, and blood pressure drops. But what do all of these benefits mean for you in your daily life and also in your work environment?
So you are thinking of taking up meditation to improve your quality of life and maybe give you the edge at work. There are more than enough reasons to sway you to go for it. A recent study showed that people who meditate, automatically work harder, not because they feel the need to press harder, but because they are relaxed enough and focused enough to take on more than usual.
When your concentration levels go up, so does your productivity. You might think that you don’t have an hour or so to waste by just sitting and doing nothing, but that is where you become penny wise and pound foolish. That hour is one well-spent because it enables you to work at a faster pace.
There are days that you just don’t have any energy, but spending some time meditating, recharges your body and mind and gets you going again in no time. There are many other benefits that you can add to the list, but how does one go about meditating? Are there any tips for newbies?
So how do you do this thing?
The first thing that you need to do is to get your posture right, sitting up straight, but still being able to relax is the most preferred posture. However, you need to be able to relax for your session to be successful. The second thing to remember is that mediation is not a race and you need to set aside a good 30 minutes to an hour. This is also not just a once a week kind of thing. You need to meditate regularly. It is like practicing any other skill, the more you do it, the better you become.
The goal is not to clear your mind but to become at ease with what is in your mind. Therefore, you need to let your thoughts go and become part of your meditation. The other big lie about meditation is that you need absolute silence. Good luck with finding that in the city. Just sit down, close your eyes and breathe.
There is not a remedy out there that is so satisfying as meditation. Even if you don’t believe in it, and you think it is a bunch of new-age hoo-ha, you don’t have anything to lose when you try it out. If you never try it, you will never know, but the numbers and the research speak volumes.
It seems like we have only reached the tip of the iceberg in terms of the benefits of meditation. New research is constantly being done, and the case for meditation as being legit and not a trend is beginning to look pretty strong.