April 05, 2020

When the subject of mindfulness is broached, there are people who still imagine that meditation is the domain of free spirits who like to spread out on a woven carpet of grass somewhere. But the fact is that there is nothing fishy about mindfulness and mindfulness meditation. These life-changing practices have been around for thousands of years, and virtually every spiritual path incorporates some form of them.

Although rooted in Buddhism, non-religious mindfulness meditation as it is practiced today is accessible to people of all backgrounds and beliefs. Despite its remarkable popularity, you may ask yourself, "But why should I meditate? To begin to answer this (justifiable) question, we provide six interesting facts about meditation below.

Some facts you may not know about meditation:

1. Meditation makes you happier
People who meditate generally lead happier lives than those who do not. Meditation is known to improve 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 have been conducted on a group of Buddhist monks while meditating. The prefrontal cortex of the monks' brains (the part associated with happiness) was found to be very active.

2. Meditation helps to manage anxiety, stress and depression.
The transformative potential of meditation should not be underestimated. Studies at the University of Wisconsin have shown that meditation has physiological effects on the brain. For example, researchers have found that the part of the brain that regulates stress and anxiety shrinks when meditation is practiced consistently. By focusing on momentary experiences, meditators train the mind to stay calm, even in stressful situations. At the same time, they feel much less anxiety about the uncertainty of the future.

3. You don't have to be religious to meditate.
The founders of Mindworks Meditation are convinced that meditation can be beneficial for everyone. It goes beyond doctrine: it's about developing calm, practicing awareness and uncluttering the mind. And although contemplation is a key element of most world religions, you don't have to be a member of a religion to practice meditation. This is good news for the one in five Americans who define themselves as "spiritual but not religious"! In addition, in January 2018, the Pew Research Center published results that show how conscious meditation has become a common practice in the United States, regardless of religious affiliation.

4. The benefits of meditation are almost immediate
The many health benefits that result from meditation are another good reason to adopt this practice. Some of the benefits can be felt very quickly after one begins to sit. A sense of calm and peace of mind are common experiences, even if the feeling is fleeting and subtle. In an article published in Forbes online, lawyer Jeena Cho lists six scientifically proven benefits you may not have expected, including a reduction in the implicit bias associated with race and age.

Some people fear that meditation may have the opposite effect, as their minds seem busier than ever. Our advice: Stick to it, and keep your sessions short. Meditation is not about wiping the slate clean from your mind, but about being aware of what appears in it. And you have a head start: you're already noticing how busy the mind can be.

5. Meditation helps you to fall asleep.
Insomnia is a troubling illness - everyone dreads an all-nighter. Unfortunately, about one-third of the U.S. population suffers from some form of sleep deprivation, either occasional or chronic. If you are one of those unfortunate people who stare at the ceiling and count sheep all night in vain, meditation may be a solution. An article in the Harvard Health Blog confirms that meditation triggers the relaxation reaction - which is why some people actually have the opposite problem: they fall asleep as soon as they start meditating!

6. Meditation sharpens memory.
In addition to increasing your happiness and improving your general well-being, meditation also helps to keep your memory alive and maintain constant concentration. Conscious meditation allows you to practice being aware of the present moment without judgment.

As a result, distractions are less and less likely to take you away. All the more reason to meditate.

We can't imagine that you still need to be convinced, especially after reading the 6 facts and examples of meditation presented above.

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