More than meditation
In this morning eclectic mix of reading was a post from Tony Schwartz one of my favourite authors talking about the realities of meditation, he opens with this statement of fact:
Here’s the promise: Meditation – and mindfulness meditation, in particular – will reduce your cortisol level, blood pressure, social anxiety and depression. It will increase your immune response, resilience and focus and improve your relationships — including with yourself. It will also bolster your performance at work and provide inner peace
But he then goes on to make a very insightful point, that meditation by itself might have many benefits, but sitting with your eyes closed for hours every day won’t help you live a better life, or maybe even a happier one, although in my view it will make you more contented.
The real benefit of meditation is that it teaches you the basic skills you need to live a mindful life, i.e. one where you concentrate on experiencing the joys of everyday experiences, at least that’s what I’ve found, and it does that in 15-30 minutes a day, maybe less. Based on the title of Tony’s post I think he agrees with me More Mindfulness, Less Meditation.
Although I highly recommend meditation, and after 15 years of it I know from personal experience that it’s worth investing in, I generally recommend 10-15 minutes as a start point, only increasing if longer works for you. There’s so much more than meditation, and to ‘explore the more’ I recommend the book Just One Thing: Developing A Buddha Brain One Simple Practice at a Time which provides short descriptions of a whole toolkit of techniques for improving your mind, you can think of meditation as the foundation, but this book shows you how to build the house. I liked this more than the authors previous book Buddha’s Brain which focussed too much on the underpinning neuroscience.
Finally if all this Buddha stuff is too eastern for you, then you might like this article that explores cutting edge neuroscience of Neurofeedback: 6 Fascinating Effects of Watching and Shaping Your Own Brainwaves which achieves the same kind of benefits as meditation, but requires rather a lot of high tech gear, but achieves impressive speedy results.