Stressed out? Unable to focus? Feeling frustrated with life? Chances are, at least one person has suggested that you try meditating. Ten years ago, meditation was largely considered hippy-dippy California “woo-woo” magic that tie-dye-wearing folks praised while weaving hemp baskets. Now, however, it has exploded in popularity. Between the increasing number of studies validating the health benefits of its practice and new ways to do it, soon enough, literally everyone and their mother will be meditating (not just Gisele Bundchen).
Meditating is good for you
The number of benefits to your health from meditating keep jumping up. Taking time to breathe deeply and focus your attention inward affects not only your emotional and mental health, but also your physical health. Better immune function, a decrease in pain, and reduced cellular inflammation can result. It has even been shown to change the brain’s structure, increasing the volume of grey matter in areas in charge of mind wandering, self-relevance, learning, emotional regulation, and memory, to name a few. Well-known effects on mental health include a decrease in depression, anxiety, and stress.
Om together, right now
Meditation can also affect your social life in more ways than one. On an individual level, it improves a person’s resilience, mindfulness, empathy, and compassion, which are all key to creating better bonds with others and being socially ept. On a larger scale, groups have formed that bring together people of all kinds for the shared purpose of connecting with others who meditate. Events like The Big Quiet (organized by the Medi Club) encourage practitioners to come together to meditate at once, creating a community held together by mindfulness and respect.
Work and school are fair game, too
As the benefits of meditation become more well-known, workplaces and schools have begun to notice and many are taking steps to include meditation as part of the integral structure of the organization. Some workplaces offer yoga classes (“meditation in motion”, if you will), while others have dedicated spaces for practicing meditation or have invested in a workplace meditation consultant to help them introduce meditation into their company culture. Meditation and mindfulness practices have found a home in schools, too, whether it’s through a school-wide, designated mediation period or through its use as an alternative to detention. Meditation positively influences an individual’s ability to concentrate, recall information at a later time, and general energy levels - all things that benefit both students and professionals, so use that lunch break wisely!
If you’re inspired to start meditating but aren’t sure how to start, check out this guide that uses a mantra to make meditating less daunting. Happy meditating!
Kimber started practicing yoga in late 2015 to help improve her fitness but discovered how much it improves her emotional wellbeing, too, and has been hooked ever since. She is a San Francisco Bay Area native in her mid-20’s who works as a food scientist professionally. She is also an indoor rock climber, lover of dogs, cats, and sloths, and enjoys cooking & baking for her loved ones when not exploring other ways to procrastinate on folding her clean laundry.