What is Meditation, and Why Does It Help?

We are currently in a highly stressed time, with disruptions to our expectations and routines, a future full of uncertainty, and genuine fear for our physical and economic well being.  It can feel almost silly to think that quiet reflective listening and sitting could be helpful right now, when it feels like there are so many worries and anxieties demanding our attention.  In fact, that is exactly why now, more than ever, meditation is what we need.

Meditation is a tool that can bring us to a place of mindfulness.  Mindfulness refers to the state of being fully present in the moment, not focusing on what will happen, or what has already happened, but being 100% present in the now.  Numerous studies have outlined the benefits of mindfulness, including decreased symptoms of anxiety, depression and stress – exactly what we need help with right now!  We also know that when children are taught mindfulness skills in early childhood, they have better outcomes socially, as well as increased problem solving and curiosity, and the ability to regulate their emotions and behaviors.

Meditation can take many forms, and the way to know if you are meditating “right” is if you are able to start noticing and catching your mind wander.  That level of conscious awareness of ones’ thoughts are the first steps to meditation, and each time you are able to recenter your thoughts on the present moment, through breathing, walking, or other grounding techniques, you are practicing the art of meditation.  For some, they are helped by guided meditation, having a leader walk a person through the steps of focusing their consciousness and staying in the present moment.  Others use movement, like walking, or coloring, or knitting to stay mindfully present.  For still others, focusing on the senses is the best way to stay full present in the now, and to help catch the wandering mind by refocusing on the smells, sounds, and feel of the meditative experience.

Meditation is a skill, and one that improves with practice.  In his book 10% Happier: How I Tame The Voice In My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works, reporter Dan Harris describes his journey learning how to meditate, and the improvements that he noticed as he got better at meditating and remaining mindful and present in the moment.

For the current state of the world, we could all use an increased focus on the present moment.  Learning how to pause or mute the anxiety and uncertainty of what will happen, as well as letting go of the past experiences that we’ve had will help us use our resources to cope and get through this difficult.  Meditation benefits people of all ages, and modeling and teaching meditation and mindfulness skills to young ones can have lifelong impacts – as well as improve things right now!  For more help on mindfulness, or to join our upcoming meditation workshop, contact us.  We can help!