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Why are so many people are turning to meditation to the counteract daily noise?

In its comprehensive 2018 key findings report, the CDC shared that complementary health approaches – yoga, meditation, chiropractic care – have been on the rise from 2012 to 2017. The CDC report also reported that while yoga led the field between the three approaches, in 2017 meditation had surpassed chiropractic care and has continued to increase in mainstream awareness, more than tripling in practice.

Meditation is lauded as one of the most “powerful wellness trends.” However, there is a lot of confusion about what constitutes quality meditation and meditative approaches.

Trend Reboots Ancient Practices

Rooted in Buddhist, Hindu and Jewish traditions for at least the past 5,000 years, meditation is centered around the practice of mindfulness that trains awareness and helps the individual towards a more clear mental state. As our world becomes more complex, divided, and digitally intertwined, many people are turning to introspective practices, such as meditation, to create feelings of peace and calm.

Infinite Benefits for the Brain

fMRI and EEG verify the neurological boost your brain receives from meditation. In addition to aiding in the preservation of the brain’s cognition, meditation has also been linked to more grey matter volume and density. Meditation practices fuel a wide and varied host of benefits, including body awareness, pain tolerance, emotion regulation, introspection, complex thinking and a heightened sense of self.

Researchers found that after four sessions of meditation training or listening to a recorded book, study participants with no prior meditation experienced a reduction in fatigue and anxiety, as well as reaching an increase in mindfulness. The research team assessed mood, verbal fluency, visual coding, and working memory after participants participated in a “brief meditation practice.”  They also found that mindfulness training benefited visuospatial processing, working memory, and executive functioning.

Mindfulness Applications

The objective with any meditative practice is to quiet the inside world — releasing judgment, anxiety and negative emotions, in addition to welcoming a sense of peace and clarity. The three categories of mindful meditation are classified as Focused Attention, Open Monitoring, and Self-Transcending. Many meditation practices overlap between categories, sharing both mind-body benefits.

Focused Attention involves training the mind to clear away clutter through concentration exercises, like focus on objects, breath or bodily sensations. Open Monitoring methodology focuses on consciousness in the present moment and non-judgmental observation of thoughts, such as the “Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR)” method. The third category, Self-Transcending uses a mantra (aka “primordial sound”) to meditate inward and access an introspective field of silence.

Meditation has a positive effect on the collective. Awareness of these practices is gaining in popularity and practice across a diverse set of communities, backgrounds, and age groups, as people experience the immediate psychological and physiological benefits.