We are starting another week under extreme social distancing and there is uncertainty about whether the president will lift the social distancing standards or extend them. It is only natural for us to be feeling anxious about what’s ahead and this can take a toll on our mental health. There is a lot of speculation that there will be an extension and for those who are already struggling to cope the news will not be well received.
When the topic of mindfulness comes up, there are people out there who still imagine that meditation is the domain of free spirits who enjoy zoning out on a woven grass mat somewhere. But the fact is that there’s nothing woo-woo about mindfulness and awareness meditation. Meditating during extreme social distancing and beyond can do wonders for your mindfulness. For those who may not understand much about meditation, here are a few facts you need to know about meditation.
- Meditation makes you happier
People who meditate generally lead happier lives than those who don’t. Meditation is known to enhance the flow of constructive thoughts and positive emotions. Even a few minutes spent meditating regularly can make a big difference. Scientific evidence supports this claim: extensive studies were conducted on a group of Buddhist monks as they were meditating. The pre-frontal cortex of the monks’ brains (the part associated with happiness) was found to be extra active.
- Meditation helps you manage anxiety, stress and depression
The transformative potential of meditation shouldn’t be underestimated. Studies conducted at the University of Wisconsin proved that meditation has physiological effects on the brain. For example, researchers found that the part of the brain that regulates stress and anxiety shrinks when meditation is practiced consistently. By focusing on moment-by-moment experiences, meditators are training the mind to remain calm, even in stressful situations. Along with this, they also experience significantly less anxiety due to uncertainty about the future.
- You needn’t be a religious person to meditate
The Mindworks Meditation founders are sure that meditation can benefit everyone. It is beyond doctrine: it’s about developing calmness, practicing awareness and decluttering the mind. And although contemplation is a key component of most world religions, you don’t have to be adhere to a religion to practice meditation. This is good news for the one in five Americans who define themselves as “spiritual but not religious!” Also, in January 2018 the Pew Research Center published findings that show just how mainstream mindfulness meditation has become in the US, regardless of religious affiliation.
- Meditation helps you fall asleep
Insomnia is a troubling condition – everybody dreads a sleepless night. Sadly, about a third of the American population suffers from some form of sleep deprivation, whether occasional or chronic. If you’re one of those misfortunate folk who stare at the ceiling and count sheep all night to no avail, meditation just might be a solution. An article in the Harvard Health Blog confirms that meditation triggers the relaxation response – which is why some people actually have the opposite problem: they fall asleep as soon as they begin to meditate!
Whether we continue to stay home or prepare to go back into society, include meditation in your daily routine.