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Science behind meditation

To quote a leader in meditation, Sharon Salzberg. “Mindfulness isn’t difficult, we just need to remember to do it.” For July’s Science Cafe we will delve deeper into Meditation. What does the science behind mediation tell us how it contributes to our mental and physical well-being? Can a daily practice of meditation or yoga really help reduce stress and anxiety and help with focus and memory? These will be some of the questions that we will look at on Wednesday at the latest session of the Science Cafe. We will explore the benefits of meditation, yoga, and mindfulness with our expert panel on the subject. 

Meditation has seen a rise in popularity recently, and that may be partly because of the disconnect of our busy lives. Technologies like email, smart phones, computers, the Internet, and social media have given us great tools to enrich our lives, in reality, it has added to our stress and anxiety. We can use a consistent meditation practice to reset the brain. 

Data from a study taken from 2012 and 2017 showed that meditation among U.S. adults is on the rise. The study was taken by the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) and is found on the CDC.gov website. The report examined the complementary health use of adults 18 and over, with the focus being meditation, yoga, and chiropractors. Meditation saw its percentage increase from 4.1% in 2012 to 14.2% in 2017. Yoga was the most commonly used of the three with a percentage of 14.3% in 2017. Yoga’s jump was barely 5% (9.5% in 2012 to 14.3% in 2017). Statistically, women were more likely to use either yoga or meditation over men. Using yoga was highest among the 18-44 age range, and usage decreased for older adults.

Cite CDC published: https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db325-h.pdf.

Quieting the mind from all the random thoughts can seem like work. That is the purpose and long-term benefit of doing meditation and why they call it a meditation practice. Being still and trying to divert your mind away from random thoughts and more pressing issues can be hard. Those 10 minutes will seem like an eternity at first, but with a daily habit of meditation, it can get easier. Sometimes the easiest solutions to repair our well-being are the ones that have been around for many years. The thought of sitting down on a cushion, crossed-legged and then closing your eyes and getting inside your head may seem easy; doing it may require more effort, and a little frustration. On most days the distractions attack like rain in a mid-summer thunderstorm. 

People struggle with trying to calm the mind from the endless to-do lists, the day-to-day minutia, the constant time tugs that pull us in different directions. If you feel that the monkey-brain that is bouncing around all over, then maybe daily meditation can solve some of these problems. In closing, I’ll leave with another quote, but this time from Buddha. “You cannot travel on the path until you become the path itself.” Maybe your path to mental well-being begins at the next Science Cafe.

The Science Cafe is hosted at the Riverwalk Cafe and Music Bar. You can learn more about Science Café New Hampshire at www.ScienceCafeNH.org.

Dan Marcek is co-founder of Science Café New Hampshire and can be reached at dan@vetflix.org.

If You Go:

The Science of Meditation

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

6:00-8:00pm

The Riverwalk Café and Music Bar

35 Railroad Square, Nashua