By Miranda Massie on December 7, 2016
The spectrum of reasons why people become interested in meditation is vast. Choosing to meditate is a personal choice, and depends on many factors. If you are considering trying meditation, maybe you don’t know why you should meditate, other than the fact that mindfulness and meditation articles are everywhere in the popular media, encouraging you to do it.
After teaching over 1,000 people to meditate, the most popular reason people want to learn to meditate has become clear to me: stress management. For those who stick with the practice, what they soon realize is that the benefits are many and often wonderfully surprising.
It is challenging to succinctly define the benefits of meditation, because everyone is different and will benefit in their own unique way. Different types of meditation can produce different results. However, one thing is clear to me: if you cultivate the practice of meditation and make it part of your lifestyle toolkit, the more benefit you will see.
Simply put, here is why people meditate:
- To better deal with busy and stressful lives.
- To create more joy in life.
- For spiritual growth. Meditation does not need to be a religious or spiritual practice, but can be a beautiful practice to cultivate a connection with something bigger than yourself, whatever your belief system may be.
- To improve their health. When the mind is calm, the body is calm, and it creates an environment for the body to heal. The multitude of health benefits has been demonstrated in recent years, and continues to be actively researched. In fact, The Harvard Business Review is now recommending that health insurers cover wellness and prevention-oriented therapies that are both low-cost and evidence-based, as both yoga and meditation. See: “Now and Zen: How mindfulness can change your brain and improve your health”
If you are already a meditator, keep observing your experiences in meditation and how it affects your daily life. If you are new to meditation, be open and curious, and learn to observe how it benefits you.
Wendy Quan, founder of The Calm Monkey, is the industry leader helping organizations implement mindfulness meditation programs and combining change management techniques to create personal and organizational change resiliency. She trains passionate meditators to become workplace facilitators through workshops and online training.
Wendy is a certified organizational change manager who has been recognized as a pioneer by the University of California, Berkeley and the global Association of Change Management Professionals. Her client list includes individuals from around the world and organizations such as Google. Her life’s purpose is to help people create a better experience of life.
By Miranda Massie on December 3, 2013
I find that the stresses associated with the holiday season can often make it easy to focus on the things that drive me crazy about this time of year. The never-ending line ups, the throngs of cranky people, and an increased level of expectation placed on consumers that seems to run counter-intuitive to the ‘spirit’ of the season.
The real challenge at this time of year is not surviving the mall or a weekend with the in-laws, but instead, in reflecting on the true meaning of what that ‘holiday spirit’ signifies for each of us. For many, the holidays are a time closely associated with religious beliefs and traditions, and these often shape seasonal practices. For others, it may simply be a time to connect with family and friends or to get some much needed rest. Personally, though I am not particularly religious, I have always felt a very deep connection to something larger than myself, especially at this time of year.
It can be difficult to distinguish religion from spirituality, especially since these terms can mean something different to each individual. An article in the Journal of Advance Nursing provides the following definition:
“Spirituality is an inherent component of being human, and is subjective, intangible, and multidimensional. Spirituality and religion are often used interchangeably, but the two concepts are different. Spirituality involves humans’ search for meaning in life, while religion involves an organized entity with rituals and practices about a higher power or God. Spirituality may be related to religion for certain individuals, but for others, it may not be.”
Spiritual health is an integral component to our overall wellbeing; however, we often avoid talking about it because of how deeply individual and personal our spiritual beliefs can be. Spiritual factors can benefit our health through positive impacts on health behaviours, increased social support, and a sense of control and self-efficacy.
I like to think of spirituality as the ability to discover meaningfulness in our lives through happiness and self-awareness. Are we open to new experiences? Do we take time out to be grateful for what we have? Do we try our best to be non-judgmental? Do we reflect on how we treat others? Are we connected to our beautiful natural surroundings? The UBC Live well to learn well site provides a wonderfully open definition to spirituality: “take the time to discover more about yourself by writing in a journal, playing music, or painting as a way to let the creative juices flow and become more comfortable with yourself. Community involvement and volunteering are also great ways to foster spiritual growth.”
This December, I invite you to reflect on what the holidays mean to you personally. What is this time really about? Are you using it in the most productive way? For me, the holidays are a time to heal and to restore a part of myself that has perhaps been forgotten over the course of the year. I welcome the holidays, as I use this time as an opportunity to restore my faith in humanity, to allow me to slow down, and to remind me that there is hope and light and good in the world.
Wishing you and yours a happy and healthy holiday season.
All my best,
Tanyi, R. A. (2002), Towards clarification of the meaning of spirituality. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 39: 500–509.
Thorense, C.E. (1999) Spirituality and health: is there a relationship? Journal of Health Psychology, May; 4(3):291-300.
By Colin Hearne on December 3, 2013
We hear so much about holiday stress that it can be easy to lose sight of what the holidays really should be: fun, joyful, and a little bit magical. A strong focus should also rest on what Larry Culliford, author and psychologist, defines as ‘your adventure playground’… ‘a place to learn in and have fun’ and ‘a place in which to extend and grow’ – Your Spirituality.
When speaking of spirituality, it is not ideal to consider spirituality as a thing or an object. It is better thought of as a boundary-less dimension of human experience. Spirituality is not tied to any particular religious belief or tradition, although culture and beliefs can play a part in it. Every person has their own unique spiritual experience or beliefs, but regardless of our individuality and unique approach, one factor of spirituality that we can’t ignore is the need for connectivity. Separateness is an illusion. Everything is interrelated. This holiday season, the message is ‘connect’. Connect with others, connect with your environment, and connect with you.
The Importance of Connecting
Lots of research has been done on social connections and the implications of having too little.
- In 2012, researchers from UC Los Angeles looked at what genes were being expressed in lonely and socially-integrated people and found that people who feel socially isolated or detached, or experience a chronic threat of social losses, experience more inflammatory related problems such as arthritis and an overall poorer immune system
- Also, in 1995 researchers found that low social connections are generally associated with declines in physical and psychological health, as well as a higher propensity to the antisocial behavior that leads to further isolation.
- Finally, a 2010 brain imaging study led by researchers at the University of Michigan suggests that social rejection can activate the same parts of the as during physical pain.
Connect To Thrive
This holiday season, make it your priority to become more spiritual and to connect, using the below tips:
- Go outside– Don’t let the beauty of this time of year go unnoticed. Snowy days, crisp air, and outdoor activities like walking, skiing or ice skating are all reminders of the enchantment of the season. Take a few moments to get outside and reconnect with your surroundings.
- Take care of your health: The holiday season can be a real stress on your mind and body. Ensure you get the sleep and exercise you need to make it to the New Year. Don’t skip meals, and try to eat a balanced diet. Remember: it’s easier to get into a festive mood when you’re well-rested and not under the weather.
- Get together: It’s good to socialize at this time of year. The flurry of activity around mixing and mingling can take your mind off the shorter days, colder temperatures and stresses of life. Accept invitations from friends and family members, And why not consider extending a few of your own?
- Appreciate the good things in life: During exhaustingly busy times, you may wonder what the effort is all for. Every now and then, it’s important to sit down, put aside the difficulties and stresses of life, and reflect on the things that you do have. By focusing on the good things, you not only gain an important bit of perspective, but will draw more positive energy towards you.
- Read a book: Reading is a brilliant way to relax, de-stress, and connect with yourself. Psychologists believe this is because the mind has to concentrate on reading, and the distraction of being drawn in to a literary world eases tensions in muscles and the heart.
- Remember to breathe: Some consider breathing to be the most important of all the bodily functions, because everything depends upon it. Life is dependent upon breathing. Breath is life. Yet, most people are unconscious of their breathing and take it for granted. Click here for more information on becoming more breath aware.
“Oh the things you can find If you don’t stay behind.” – Dr Seuss
Make December the month where you make your spirituality and connectedness a priority –take the first step by attending ‘Stress Busters 2’ on Dec. 19, 2013, 12-1pm in Henry Angus Building, Room 254. In this talk, explore your personal stress triggers and review some practical, easy techniques to make brief relaxation moments a natural part of your everyday life with. To register click here.