Meditation is going digital
As you may have heard, there is a lot of buzz around meditation, especially with the rise of apps like Calm and Headspace. As these apps grow into the millions of users, investors like Ashton Cutcher are jumping in to bring the value of the kingpin, Calm, to over $1 billion USD. In our opinion, it’s about time that we are seeing technology working to reduce anxiety, considering the many ways it has been shown to encourage it.
But, what exactly is meditation?
Meditation is the practiced state of awareness, attention, and remembering in which the focus is directed away from the past or future to remain solely on the present, without judgment – sounds good, where do I sign up?
Well, there are a myriad of different forms of meditation all with emotional AND physical benefits; but it’s important to note that there is no “right way” to meditate. Of all the forms, mindfulness – encouraging practitioners to remain aware and present in the moment – is the most popular type in the world of psychotherapy and is a good place to start.
Your brain will love it
By meditating, you are working your hippocampus, prefrontal cortex and amygdala – areas of the brain that have been shown to control memory, decision-making and, most importantly, stress. With a regular practice, you are training these regions of the brain to deal with stress in a completely different way. One of the most interesting studies comes from Yale, finding that mindfulness meditation decreases activity in the default mode network (DMN), the brain network responsible for mind-wandering and self-referential thoughts – a.k.a., “monkey mind”. By controlling your monkey mind you avoid stressing about matters of the past and future that are out of your control, thus allowing your brain to focus on more productive thoughts.
Need more convincing?
- Depression - One study from the University of California examined mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) on relapsing depressive patients in several randomized control trials. Results found MBCT to be as useful as antidepressant medication in relapse prevention.
- Lowers Blood pressure - A study by the American Journal of Psychology used the stress-reduction technique to treat males with chronic kidney disease and discovered that mindfulness has biological effects such as decreasing blood pressure, significant enough to improve the health condition of these patients.
- Stress Reduction - A 2016 study examined individuals’ neural activity after watching sad films. The study found those exposed to 8 weeks of mindfulness stress reduction therapy reacted more positively than the control group.
- The list goes on, and on, and...