Meditation and Mindfulness are on everyone's lips these days. Five years ago, rarely anyone you asked would say they had a meditation practice but in 2020 we find that even if you aren't meditating regularly then you are at the very least aware that there are significant benefits to exploring the different techniques out there.

With more meditation making its way on to our schedule we wanted to bring you the latest information we know of from a scientific perspective as to the benefits of mindfulness and meditation. This is not ancient wisdom, it is not hippy-speak and it's all backed up and documented with decent research. So here goes... a rundown of questions that seem fairly settled, for the time being, and questions researchers are still exploring.

 

Meditation Almost Certainly Sharpens Your Attention

It’s not surprising that meditation would affect attention since many practices focus on this very skill. Studies have found that mindfulness meditation can reduce mind-wandering and improve our ability to solve problems.

There’s more good news: Studies have shown that improved attention seems to last up to five years after mindfulness training, again suggesting trait-like changes are possible.

 

Meditate Consistently Over Time and Stress Resilience Builds

 The important thing to note here is that the research on offer doesn't suggest that meditation reduces physiological and psychological reactions to threats and obstacles but that studies to date do suggest that meditation helps the mind and body bounce back from stress and stressful situations. According to neuroscience research, mindfulness practices dampen activity in our amygdala and increase the connections between the amygdala and the prefrontal cortex. Both of these parts of the brain help us to be less reactive to stressors and to recover better from stress when we experience it.

 

As We Meditate Compassion Grows and is More Effective

 Many well-designed studies have shown that practicing 'loving-kindness meditation' for others increases our willingness to take action to relieve suffering. It appears to do this by lessening amygdala activity in the presence of suffering, while also activating circuits in the brain that are connected to good feelings and love.

For longtime meditators, activity in the “default network”—the part of our brains that, when not busy with focused activity, ruminates on thoughts, feelings, and experiences— quiets down, suggesting less rumination about ourselves and our place in the world.

 

Want Better Relationships? Practice Mindfulness

 There are many, many studies that find a positive link between mindfulness and relationship quality,

For example, in a 2016 study, researchers measured mindfulness in 88 couples. Then they took cortisol levels in each couple before and after they discussed a conflict in their relationship. Unsurprisingly, cortisol levels spiked during the discussion, a sign of high stress. But levels in the most mindful people—both men and women—were quicker to return to normal after the conflict ended, suggesting they were better equipped in keeping their cool.

Mindfulness is also linked to better relationships with your kids. Studies have found that mindfulness practice can lessen stress, depression, and anxiety in parents of preschoolers. Mindful parenting is also linked to more positive behavior in kids.

 

Still Need Convincing? 

A quick trip around the Internet and you'll soon discover that mindfulness and meditation are the cool-kids of 2020. Search 'meditation' through Google and you'll get 554,000,000 results. We are the first to admit that there are some dubious assertions out there that claim that meditation is a cure-all which is just not true. But... scratch below the surface and you'll soon discover that meditation can and does make a difference in a lot of people's lives and the research is there to prove it. 

A little scared to try meditation? Don't believe you can meditate? We often hear 'I tried to meditate once and it didn't work'. Meditation is as meditation does. If you try you are and it's important not to build up expectations of what it is or isn't or what it should or shouldn't feel like. At Wonder we're here to help you discover meditation in a safe and supported way.

From January 13 all our 75-minute Yin classes will have a 15-minute meditation component, that's 7 times a week to sit and just be plus we've got 3 stand-alone meditation classes at 11:30 am on a Monday, Tuesday and Thursday. 

You can book your Meditation classes here