Why meditation is important in today’s world
Gaining huge popularity in recent years, the simple practice of meditation has an abundance of health benefits that can alleviate the stress of modern living and bring some balance back to your world.
Let's face it, today's world is a demanding one. With 24-hour connectivity to work and constant digital overload at home, we're more stressed and under more pressure than ever before. As a result, our stress response – one of our innate physiological mechanisms that should only be triggered in life-threatening situations – is triggered constantly. Not by lions and tigers, but traffic jams, public speaking, heavy workloads, and financial and relationship troubles.
"It can take up to an hour for our body to return to normal once the threat of stress is alleviated, so we spend an excessive amount of time in that stressed stage," explains Kevin Janks from Centred Meditation. This has all sorts of short and long-term health implications, such as: anxiety, poor immunity, digestive problems, headaches, high blood pressure, poor sleep, fatigue and burnout.
The World Health Organisation predicts burnout will become a global pandemic within a decade – in fact, it already has an estimated global annual cost in excess of $300 billion. Meditation can act as a circuit breaker for this non-stop lifestyle, giving both the mind and the body a chance to recharge. "Meditation is a powerful natural antidote to stress. It's a simple mental technique used by people from all over, including some of the world's most successful," explains Kevin.
How does meditation help?
The psychological benefits of meditation are far-reaching and the more you practice, the more benefits you experience. Benefits include:
- Improved learning ability and memory;
- Improved focus and concentration;
- Higher confidence in personal ability;
- Increased productivity;
- Enhanced mood and emotional stability;
- Reduced anxiety and stress;
- Increased compassion;
- Enhanced ability to process information;
- Greater creativity;
- Reduced anger;
- Enhanced presence and ability to live in the moment;
- Dealing with difficult situations more easily;
- Reduction of negative thoughts; and
- Increased happiness.
As well as the many psychological benefits, there are a surprising number of physical benefits too, such as:
- Decreased physical tension;
- Lower blood pressure;
- Strengthened immune system;
- Slowing of the ageing process;
- Higher energy level;
- Improved sleep quality ;
- Decreased activity in the area of the brain associated with clinical disorders such as ADHD and Alzeimer's disease; and
- Reduced physical symptoms of stress and anxiety, such as digestive problems, sleep, headaches or muscle tension.
How often should I meditate?
Research has shown that even just a short amount of regular meditation can help. Participants who received eight weeks of mindfulness training showed lower levels of stress during a multitasking test. Further research found that meditating for just 20 minutes per day reduced the adverse effects of stress.
"Regular, consistent practice is the key to reaping lasting effects. The main thing is to commit to the practice and sustainably wind it into your wellbeing routine," says Kevin.
There are plenty of ways to get started. Beginners might benefit from guidance, so try a YouTube video, download an App, or find a face-to-face guided meditation session you can try. If you're meditating at home, it's important you aren't disturbed so turn off the phone, close the door and find a peaceful, comfortable spot. Try to meditate at the same time every day, as this establishes a routine. The more you practice, the quicker you will learn, and the more benefits you will experience.
"You should sit in meditation for twenty minutes every day, unless you are busy. Then you should sit for an hour." Zen proverb.