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The Benefits of Meditation

If you told your best friend, your boss, or your parents that you were off to meditate for half an hour, what would they think? That you’d lost it? That you’d joined a cult? That you must be stressed out?

However, meditation is becoming more mainstream. Apps like Calm and Headspace, and the current conversation around mental health are helping it become more normal and less associated with alternative individuals and ways of life, or trips to India to “find oneself”. Some months ago, on RTE’s Doctor in the House, it was recommended (in particular the Headspace App) for a young mother suffering from anxiety. It is also being practiced in schools now. However, in that context it seems to be part of religion class, whereas I would argue it would be better served in PE or SPHE curriculum.

The Huffington Post lists 8 benefits of meditation in this article:

It reduces stress

It improves concentration

It encourages a healthy lifestyle

It increases self-awareness

It increases happiness

It increases acceptance

It slows ageing (wow!)

It benefits cardiovascular and immune health

Aren’t some or all of the above what most people are striving for, or complaining about the lack of? If meditation can improve only a few of the above isn’t it at least worth a try?

Rather than focus on anything in particular, the purpose of mediation is to still and quiet the mind, and ultimately empty it. Like any habit, this takes practice, particularly for people with busy lives and whose heads are full of to-do lists, things at work and everyday worries. Thoughts will come and go - that’s only natural, but the key is to catch them and waft them away, like a fluffy white cloud in a blue sky, or like my old yoga teacher used to say “Let your mind be a bright, white cinema screen”. So, download an App (a trial version or a basic version is usually free) and start small 5-10 minutes a day. There is nothing to lose and a whole lot to gain.

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