Many of us experience stress, depression, and anxiety. Meditation is a great way to help relieve some of these feelings, and more Americans are giving it a shot.
Meditation is becoming so popular that it is now offered in schools and hospitals. Does meditation really offer any true health benefits? Critics are divided on this point, but it does seem to help the mind with the above issues, as it is a way to feel in control of yourself again.
Meditation helps manage anxiety, depression, and pain, according to 47 studies analyzed in JAMA Internal Medicine on Monday — but does not appear to help with other problems, including substance abuse, sleep loss, and weight.
"We have moderate confidence that mindfulness practices have a beneficial effect," wrote the author of the paper, Dr. Madhav Goyal of Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, in an email to Shots. He says the positive effects on anxiety, depression, and pain can be modest, but are seen across multiple studies.
"It was surprising to see that with so little training [about 2.5 hours of meditation practice per week] we were still seeing consistent effects," Goyal wrote.
One type of mindfulness training that was used in many of the research studies is called Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (or MBSR). It's typically taught in eight sessions. Think of it as Buddhist meditation, "but without the Buddhism," says Jon Kabat-Zinn, the father of MBSR. It's completely secular.
The focus of mindfulness meditation is to train the brain to stay in the moment. To do this, practitioners are taught to let go of the regrets of the past, as well as anxieties about the future.
Does meditation seem like something that could help you? Maybe you should give it a try if you are struggling with stress, depression, and anxiety.