It seems like you can’t glance through a piece of media without being encouraged to join the legions of those who meditate, being promised relief from the relentless stress, chattering mind and jangled nerves that are part and parcel of our every day lives.
Just today, You Tube returned over 1.4 million hits when I entered the search term “meditation training”. Likewise, there are dozens of smartphone apps for various kinds of meditation, with compelling names like Calm, Headspace, and Smiling Mind ~ ahh, just saying the names begins to affect me as I imagine what that a smiling mind feels like… Similarly if you look for podcasts, periodicals and books related to meditation, you will be abundantly rewarded with many intriguing choices.
Searching PubMed (the trusted source for scholarly, research based, peer reviewed medical journal articles) you will find well over 25,000 distinct publications solely devoted to meditation research. Many of our top academic institutions have dedicated entire research centers to the study of mindfulness meditation alone, including UCLA, Berkeley, the University of Massachusetts and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
But meditation isn’t just an ivory tower pursuit ~ not at all! There are many excellent outreach programs for teaching meditation and related self-regulation skills to those experiencing the extreme stress of active duty military, homelessness, and prison life. There are programs too numerous to name that offer mindfulness as a healing path through the difficulty of humanitarian work, first responders working in crisis, those serving in disaster relief, medical patients suffering with chronic pain, trauma and loss as well as for the healthcare workers who serve them.
Harvard Business Review, Forbes, and the Huffington Post have recently run articles on CEOs who meditate, highlighting an impressive array of innovative meditation based initiatives springing up inside all kinds of corporate environments. And it seems that everyone from the Boston Red Sox to the Seattle Seahawks, Hugh Jackman, and Oprah all practice meditation regularly. Even the legal profession has recognized the benefits of mindfulness meditation and offers several programs for its professionals to help them deal with their unique stressors.
Clearly, meditation is HOT!
Care to try a little? Get comfy in your favorite chair, close your eyes, feel your breath coming in and going out, and just watch what your mind and body are doing. No judgments or commentary required, just observe; and if you do find that you’re talking to yourself ~ please be gentle, kind, compassionate. And then just come back to observing the mind and body, letting go, settling into the present moment with ease. Repeat as many times as the mind wanders away. You ask “How do I do that?” Well, that’ll have to be for another post…
If you haven’t begun you own meditation exploration, no worries, we’ve got you covered! Shortly after the first of the year, Forum Health Akron will be offering an evidence based stress reduction program utilizing mindfulness meditation. In fact it’s the very same program developed at the UMASS Medical Center that began the whole mindfulness revolution, and I’d love to see you there!
Mindfully Yours ~ Victoria