by Nick Andrea
Why is it important to meditate? According to an article in Science 2.0 (www.Science20.com), “Practicing meditation may not be relaxing or restful.” In other words, meditation is work, effort, and it takes up valuable time during our day when we could otherwise be doing something useful. When we meditate, we’re not making money, we’re not making change in the world, we’re just sitting. Gosh, what could be more useless than that!
Science, however, tells a more complex and uplifting story. The same article in Science 2.0 reviewed research from the University of Pennsylvania on the effects meditation has on concentration. The scientists studied two groups. The first, a group of beginning meditators, were part of an 8-week course, and the second, a group of experienced meditators, came from a one month meditation intensive. Both groups showed significant improvements in
1. the ability to focus attention at will
This reminds me of a story of the Buddha, where somebody asks him, “Are you God?” and he replies, “No, I’m awake.”
Okay, so meditation makes us more awake and aware. But what does increased awakening and awareness bring us? According to research, a regular meditation practice can bring the following improvements in our lives:
2. significant reductions is chronic low back pain
3. lower blood pressure
4. reduced ADHD symptoms in adolescents and adults
5. reduced levels of depression
6. less anxiety
Meditation practice is also and linked to:
7. improvement in intelligence over time
8. better job satisfaction
9. improved employee effectiveness
10. and improved relationships
All of these studies point to a simple truth: spending the effort to raise our consciousness through meditation makes life much less painful and much more effortless. In other words, a regular meditation practice will not turn us into Gods. But it may make us much more like the Buddha. Much more awake!
So the next time you sit on that cushion, or are attending a meditation retreat, and you think that meditation is a waste of time, remember that it gives you more energy as you manage tasks and prioritize goals in life with more ease. As you will work more efficiently, it may also give you a better income, and definitely more peace of mind. Meditation will also save you some trips to the doctor!
1. Science 2.0 News Staff. (2007). Meditation improves concentration, says study. http://www.science20.com/news/meditation_improves_concentration_says_study, retrieved 10:39am 6/27/2011.
2. Morone, N.E., Greco, C.M., Weiner, D.K. (2008). Mindfulness meditation for the treatment of chronic low back pain in older adults: A randomized controlled pilot study. Pain Vol. 134, 3, pgs. 310-319, February 2008.
3. Zylowska, L., Ackerman, D.L., Yang, M.H., Futrell, J.L., Horton, N.I., Hale, S., Pataki, C. Smalley, S.L. (2007). Mindfulness meditation training in adults and adolescents with adhd: A feasibility study. Journal of Attention Disorders, 2007. http://jad.sagepub.com/content/early/2007/11/19/1087054707308502.abstract
4. Alexander, C.N., Swanson, G.C., Rainforth, M.V., Carlisle, T.W., Toss, C.C., Oates, R.M. (2007). Effects of the transcendental meditation program on stress reduction, health, and employee development: A prospective study in two occupational settings. Anxiety, Stress, & Coping, Vol. 6, 3, 1993.
5. Cranson, R.W., Orme-Johnson, D.W., Gackenbach, J., Dillbeck, M.C., Jones, C.H., Alexander, C.N. (1991). Transcendental meditation and improved performance on intelligence – longitudinal study. Personality and Individual Differences, Vol. 12, 10. Pgs. 1105-1116, 1991.