Meditation is HOT HOT HOT!
It’s all over the news, the podcasts, The Onion (ha!) and so many more places; but truthfully, meditation as a tool for happiness really isn’t new.
As far back as the 60’s researchers have been finding positive research with meditation and what it does to positively affect brain chemistry and CAN make people happier, and of course since these initial studies, there have been more and more compelling studies that have shown the same thing.
OK, so how much meditation do you need?
The research seems to be pointing in the direction of about 1 hour daily to really improve happiness… EEK, I don’t know about you, but for me that just isn’t happening (not yet at least).
Researchers found (in a few cases) that adding about 60 minutes of meditation daily for 6-8 weeks improved happiness for participants.
If you already meditate, this may be achievable, but for anyone who doesn’t meditate- thinking about this may be really hard.
Besides happiness, here’s what meditation seems to be helpful with:
1. Stress reduction:
This doesn’t seem super far-fetched. Breathe more, hopefully less stress.
2. Improved concentration:
This also seems fair- with more oxygen to the brain, it seems many of us can focus better too. This research seems to find that meditation can help congnition and focus into older age as well.
3. Improved mindfulness:
Our intern Kathleen practices meditation for boosted mindfulness and she too finds that it makes her happier (I do this as well).
4. Increased likelihood of making healthier choices overall:
Those who meditate may find it easier to make other healthful choices and decision- including eating better, exercising more etc.
5. It may slow aging (sign me up!):
Researchers at Harvard found that meditation may elongate the telomeres in the cell- these telomere lengths directly correlate to cell age. (we need more research on this one- but here’s an article from Huff Post!
6. Improved cardiovascular health:
Meditation may help to reduce blood pressure and stress on the heart (breathing relaxes muscles and eases anxiety, thereby decreasing blood pressure etc).
7. Decreased anxiety:
Also related to cardiovascular health (and overall health), meditation may help to ease anxiety.
Clearly there are many reasons to meditate, but since this month we’re talking about Mental Health Awareness, we’re focusing on meditation practice for happiness, so here’s how to start:
- Download one of our favorite apps- Calm, Headspace (and there are plenty of others too).
- Pencil time in your calendar – and stick to it. Start slow- 2, 3, 5 minutes.
- If you fall off track with your plan, let it go and get back on track.
- Check back in with yourself weekly and see if you feel any different- don’t expect miracles, but let’s see if it helps brighten the overall outlook- even just a little.
Want to read more about happiness? Click here!