Is it really good to meditate?

Publish date 20-01-2023

by Roberto Cristaudo

In recent years we hear more and more often talk about meditation. Initially known as a series of practices related to Eastern and Asian religions, it has become of daily use for thousands of Westerners who pursue it.
Our hyper-connected society is under great pressure due to the demand for ever more efficient economic and work performance. Everything turns into a lack of time to dedicate to ourselves and causes us stress.
We almost always try to run for cover quickly, using applications, downloaded on our smartphones, which tell us how and when to breathe, what music to listen to and the exercises to practice in order to sleep better.

But what is meditation really and why does it need time and constancy for it to be really useful? Several practices are generically defined with the word "meditation" and the more mainstream ones are known as "mindfulness". A series of exercises that help you focus on the present moment.
Normally you start by following the rhythm of your breathing. All it takes is ten minutes a day during which you focus on your heart rhythm.
Initially it is not easy to be able to concentrate without being distracted by thoughts, but over time you become familiar and everything becomes easier.
Meditating regularly helps improve attention even when you are not meditating.

Several studies have shown that people who practice meditation, even for short periods, perform better and are more focused when compared to people who don't meditate. Another area where meditation can be helpful is in controlling negative emotions.
People who meditate are "emotionally more solid" and better able to weather difficult times by controlling their emotions. Much research carried out on meditation has provided encouraging results and the practice of "mindfulness" is spreading very rapidly, but some researchers have expressed doubts and perplexities about its real effectiveness.
A recent article in The Guardian said that mindfulness should not be treated as harmless and good for everyone. Firstly because the number of studies dealing with it is still limited. For example, there are doubts about the possibility that focusing can bring up negative thoughts and cause pain and stress, rather than reduce them.
In general, it is necessary to avoid addressing the question in a naive and superficial way and possibly it is advisable to start practicing meditation under the guidance of an expert person.

Roberto Cristaudo
Mind the gap
NP November 2022

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