Does it seem like meditation is all the rage lately? We all know someone who has jumped on the mindfulness wagon, and our newsfeeds seem to abound with articles about all of the benefits of practicing mindfulness. It makes it easy to dismiss mindfulness practice, such as meditation, as a new-age fad. Yet, eastern cultures have been practicing mindfulness and meditation for thousands of years. Could it be that the west is only just now catching up with understanding the importance of this practice for our well-being, especially now that its claims are backed up by neuroscience?
Keep in mind that it wasn’t that long ago that our culture didn’t recognize the importance of physical exercise for our health. Exercise was something for only a select few people as a hobby, or for athletes. Ironically, it was about the same time that smoking was understood to be a practice that was beneficial for our health, with advertisements featuring doctors in white coats smoking in their offices, encouraging taking up smoking. It’s possible for an entire society to be very confused about what’s “good” for us.
In the case for meditation, the confusion is that our minds are kind of fixed. They are what they are, and there is no need to further develop them, or care for them. For many people, the idea of “exercising” and developing the mind just doesn’t exist. Fortunately, we are starting to learn just how far from the truth this is. With the tools of western psychology and neuroscience, we are now able to observe how the mind can be sharpened and developed through meditation, and doing so has tremendous benefits for our emotional and mental health and well-being. On the flip side, not taking care of our minds in this way has negative consequences for our mental health and well-being and for society as a whole, similar to the health epidemics that are a result of society’s lack of exercise and healthy diet.
With even just ten minutes of meditation practice every day, we can reap some of the results of this self-care. It takes commitment and determination, but inner peace, open-mindlessness, reduced anxiety, problem solving, kindness and compassion to ourselves and others, relating to our emotions in a healthy way, and clarity of mind are results that definitely make it worth it.
Just as with physical exercise, it helps to practice with a group to keep accountable and have support. Like a running group meetup, or gym “buddies”, meditation groups are readily available in most communities, and continue to pop up all over. Specific techniques and flavors may vary, so it’s important to find a particular practice and group that is a good fit.
In this way, we consider meditation groups like Peace of Mindful to be a kind of “gym” or training center for our minds. There are plenty of wonderful books, apps, communities, and practices out there. What are you waiting for?
Do you have a meditation practice? Let us know how it has positively impacted you in the comments below!