Though news stories and research reports touting the benefits of meditation are everywhere these days, many people are daunted at the prospect of starting a meditation practice because, they believe, it’s time-consuming, difficult and maybe even a little bit weird. It’s actually none of those things, however.
Meditating is very simple. It can be done in many different ways – some of which are incredibly easy to incorporate into even the busiest lifestyles – and it’s the opposite of “weird.” Meditating (in whatever form you choose to do it) will make you calmer, happier and even smarter, insofar as it helps you maintain your focus. Those traits tend to make people more likeable and more successful.
Much of the research that’s been done on the benefits of meditation focus on a particular type, transcendental meditation (called TM) – largely because the organization that teaches TM has devoted significant resources to studying its efficacy. TM is a terrific program but it’s costly – most experts agree that anyone who incorporates meditation into their lifestyle will experience similar benefits.
And what are those benefits? It’s hard to know where to begin.
Meditation sharpens concentration, improves memory and helps regulate mood. It enhances creativity and reduces irritability; reduces reactivity (which improves interpersonal relationships) and helps maintain a positive outlook.
All that’s great for anyone and everyone but meditation has benefits that are particularly helpful to people who are suffering, for instance from the pain of addiction. Meditation has been shown to improve resiliency and help people overcome the mental and emotional anguish of traumatic experiences. Several studies examining how meditation helped people with PTSD found it extraordinarily helpful – participants credited the practice with helping them to regain control over their feels and lives, bringing back peace of mind and even enabling them to, once again, experience joy. Best of all? For most people, the benefits are almost immediate!