My doctor has been pushing me to try it, my acupuncturist swears by it, and even Mr. Rogers practiced it. And now a new study seems to prove that it really can have a huge impact on your body, brain and spirit. What is this powerful tool? Meditation.
I suffer from bouts of anxiety and although meditation has been recommended over and over again, my mind is always in a marathon pace going a million miles a minute. Taking the time to sit and think of nothing, well that totally goes against my nature. But my nature has proven to be polluted by thoughts of dread, sweaty palms and panic attacks, so going against said nature sounds pretty tempting — especially after reading about a new study that seems to prove that meditation really could make a difference.
Reuters Health reports that a new study from The Johns Hopkins University that used data from 47 previous studies “found moderate evidence to support the use of mindfulness meditation to treat those conditions (anxiety, depression and pain).”
As for my fear that I would have to try to turn off my busy brain, that isn’t part of mindful meditation. “Many people have the idea that meditation means just sitting quietly and doing nothing,” Dr. Madhav Goyal stated. “That is not true. It is an active training of the mind to increase awareness, and different meditation programs approach this in different ways.”
When the researchers examined the data they discovered that there was a “5 and 10 percent improvement in anxiety symptoms among people who took part in mindfulness meditation, compared to those who did another activity. ” They also found an improvement of depression symptoms in about 10 to 20 percent of the participants who practiced mindful meditation. And although 5 to 20 percent may not sound like a significant amount, it is. “This is similar to the effects that other studies have found for the use of antidepressants in similar populations,” Goyal said.
But like all things, meditation shouldn’t be seen as a cure-all. “Rather, it is a path we travel on to increase our awareness and gain insight into our lives,” Goyal wrote. “The best reason to meditate is to gain this insight. Improvements in health conditions are really a side benefit, and it’s best to think of them that way.” And a pretty good side benefit wouldn’t you say?
At my daughter’s school, they don’t just teach mindfulness, they practice it too. The students, starting in kindergarten, learn to calm their minds and bodies with meditation techniques and it’s a lesson that has proven to be long lasting. When my daughter begins to feel moments of stress she will stop what she is doing, take a deep breath, and find her center. It truly is inspiring and a wonderful thing that she is being given these tools at such a young age. Especially when her mother is still searching for right ones in her own toolbox.
Do you practice mediation or mindfulness of some sort?
Photo Source: Morgue File