What is meditation?
Mindfulness and meditation is about relaxing the mind to be fully focused on “the now” so you can acknowledge and accept your thoughts, feelings, and sensations without judgment.
Where did meditation come from?
Meditation is an ancient practice that is believed to originate in India several thousand years BCE. Throughout early history, the practice of meditation was adopted by many countries. Meditation is taught in Hindu and Buddhist practices, but it’s also practiced by millions of people in a secular way across the world.
Learning how to meditate
Guided meditation is a great way to learn how to meditate, although meditation can also be self-taught. A guided meditation practitioner will assure you that there’s no right or wrong way to meditate. They will start by introducing you to the concept of meditation and mindfulness, then they will encourage you to slow your breathing down. If the mind wanders, that’s OK too.
The benefits of meditation
Decrease in stress, anxiety and depression
Many studies have shown that meditation supports people to recover from stress. This study conducted a meta-analysis of many scientific studies and showed that: Meditation appears to be effective for PTSD and depression symptoms. The Mayo clinic also states that:
Meditation can give you a sense of calm, peace and balance that can benefit both your emotional well-being and your overall health.
Decrease high blood blood pressure
This recent study showed that people who meditation over 8-weeks had a change in the expression of 172 genes that regulate inflammation, circadian rhythms and glucose metabolism. There was a decrease in blood pressure. Reference
Increased life expectancy
Shinzen Young a meditation teacher and author of The Science of Enlightenment said that if you meditation for a few minutes a day, you’ll increase your lifespan. If you want a great read about meditation, check out the link above for the Guardian review and link to buy.
Increased attention span
This study shows that meditation training improved perceptual discrimination and sustained attendion. The paper states that: “These results suggest that perceptual improvements can reduce the resource demand imposed by target discrimination and thus make it easier to sustain voluntary attention.” In short, mindfulness meditation led to longer attention spans.
Overcoming challenges in mindfulness
No matter how long you have been meditating, it’s common to feel like it’s not working. However, there is no goal in meditation. Thoughts will come and go as they please and it’s not our job to try and stop them. Sometimes meditating will feel easy, sometimes it will be harder.
Jay Shetty is a buddhist monk. How Jay experiences meditation changes each time he meditates:
Many of us are experiencing setbacks and failures in everyday life. Eventually, we get emotionally drained, tired, unmotivated and we stop trying.
- Jay Shetty
You know, if even the Bhuddist monks can feel like it isn’t working sometimes, that you’re NOT doing it wrong! For some bon mots from Shetty to keep at it when it feels like it isn’t helping, see here. He encourages people to persevere with meditation, even when it feels like it doesn’t come naturally.
And trust us, we were skeptics too, at first. It IS helping, even when it doesn’t feel like it.
In conclusion, meditation is a powerful way of relaxing the mind. Meditation must be continually practiced for maximum benefits, and the benefits may not always be immediately obvious. However, we are in no doubt that meditation has long term physical and mental health benefits. If you want to try it, in a supportive group of LGBTQIA+ folks, put your email in the box below!