By Lara Evans Bracciante
Originally published in Massage & Bodywork magazine, August/September 2004.
What if there was a single pill you could take to reduce blood pressure, ease anxiety, improve concentration, and make you happier — all with no side effects? Chances are, everyone would be clamoring for it. While not in pill form, mindfulness meditation — the act of sitting quietly for 20 to 30 minutes once or twice a day and emptying your mind — appears to initiate these significant results.
An ancient and fundamental principle in many religions and worldviews, mindfulness meditation is nothing new, but the controlled studies scientifically outlining the effects are. In the past year, various researchers have concluded that the practice contributes to a greater sense of well-being (happiness, optimism, and life satisfaction), less negativity, greater immunity, enhanced sleep, and improved behavioral and emotional disorders (anxiety, panic attacks, depression, eating disorders, and obsessive-compulsive disorder).
With practice, mindfulness meditation can become a part of everyday experiences, helping you to become more present in each moment and activity, be a better listener, deal more effectively with your own emotional responses, and slow down long enough to smell the proverbial roses.
While meditating with a group can help you cultivate the discipline, the practice can also be done alone. Numerous books and audiotapes/CDs are available to help with this endeavor. For more information on mindfulness meditation, visit www.meditationcenter.com.