“Half an hour’s meditation each day is essential, except when you are busy. Then a full hour is needed.” – St. Francis de Sales
When was the last time you did nothing? No Internet or texting, watching television, reading, reminiscing about the past or planning for future events,” asked Andy Puddicombe, founder of Headspace app, in a TED talk. It’s so easy being distracted by everyday flotsam that we risk losing our grasp on the present moment. Coupled with stress, unrestrained emotions can run amok, leading to toxic patterns of behavior, destructive thoughts and suffering.
With its roots in Hinduism over three thousand years ago, the ancient practice of meditation trains the attention to develop greater voluntary control over our thought patterns. Breathing exercises focus on restoring our awareness to the present moment, encouraging deeper insight into behavior, greater mental wellbeing and a clearer perspective on life.
But you don’t have to be a purveyor of spirituality to harness the benefits. Scientists have discovered that regular mindfulness rewires neural pathways and reduces reactivity of the amygdala, the part of the brain responsible for triggering anxiety and stress. Brain scans also reveal that meditators have a greater density of neurons in the area responsible for emotional control, enabling them to more easily manage stress.
Rhys Bonney, a British web developer, has almost reached the end of his eight-week meditation course at Aceptación Cuántica. “I feel a lot less anxious, I’m able to identify when my brain is running away with itself and don’t obsess so much over the future.” But this practice takes time and patience. “It took about three weeks of practicing for around twenty minutes daily to notice these benefits.” Another center, Nagarjuna Barcelona, offers an introduction to Buddhist meditation for just seven euros a session.
If you’re not sure about committing to a course, mobile apps such as Buddhify and Headspace offer guided meditations. Whether you see the New Year as an opportunity to put the last 365 days into perspective or you’d just like to refresh your outlook, mindfulness meditation might be what you need.
Nagarjuna Barcelona. C/ Rosselló 298, ppal. 2ª