postheadericon Meditation for the Masses

Meditation’s beneficial attributes are supported by well documented and incontrovertible evidence. And the evidence is overwhelming. But what I’m interested in most about meditation, as I suspect many people are, is how meditation is relevant to daily modern life in concrete practical ways. I’m less interested in why it works or following traditional forms and rituals associated with meditation as I am in showing people that it can be very useful when integrated seamlessly into their daily routine.

Meditation can be hugely helpful to college students. The perception many people have of college students is of young people having the time of their lives and completely carefree. The truth is that college students have a lot on their plates. Students taking college classes, whether getting a B.A. in English on a traditional college campus or pursuing an associate degree in nursing online have to multi-task constantly. Taking a half hour to clear the mind and meditate is often an excellent antidote to a hectic student schedule. Think of it as a traditional study break but with better benefits. This is especially helpful during exam preparation when the brain feels overloaded with too many facts to possibly remember them all. Taking the time to meditate in a quiet place works wonders for the brain’s ability to recall information.

Meditation benefits people who have a problem with anxiety. The root causes of over-anxiety in individuals are often not irrational at all. Anxiety can be a completely natural reaction to the brain’s inability to problem solve. Our brains are sorting and sifting information all the time. Our ability to evolve alongside dangerous animals for millions of years depended on our brain’s highly developed ability to instantly identify danger and act accordingly. When we sleep our brains process information; perhaps as part of the dreaming process which allows us to learn. That’s why people will present you with a situation or problem and then say “why don’t you sleep on it and we’ll talk about it later.” It’s just intuitive that sleep helps us solve problems. Meditation seems to mimic some of the problem solving capacity of sleep. In the same way that meditation study breaks can help students retain information during exam preparation, frequent meditation for anxious individuals may help them identify root cause of anxieties.

Meditation is an especially useful tool for senior citizens. All of the research which shows that brain deterioration can be dramatically slowed by meditation is also supported in peer reviewed studies as well as brain scans. That’s been established. What I’m more interested in is the effect of meditation on physical ability in senior citizens and most importantly the impact on sense of wellbeing. Elderly people who have incorporated meditation into their daily routines have greater physical ability and stamina than those that don’t. That’s easy to measure. It’s hard to say for sure though whether this is a causal relationship or a correlation to other factors. It’s possible, for example, that an older person who has practiced meditation for years has also engaged in other healthy lifestyle choices such as healthy diet and vigorous physical exercise. Wellbeing is an intangible thing. That makes it hard to measure. However, older folks who meditate frequently report experiencing higher levels of wellbeing than those who don’t. Everybody can find an extra half hour for meditation too. And it doesn’t cost anything.

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