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  • Bill Petrie

The Single Best Investment that You could ever Make

I met with a friend and colleague – a well-known clinical psychologist and hypnotherapist in Cape Town – and one of the topics we discussed was meditation. His conclusion was that learning meditation was “the single best investment” he “ever, ever made” and I must say that I agree with him.

Meditation has literally transformed both of our lives.

For me, the really exciting thing is that the general public, the scientific community, the medical profession and many others besides are discovering the immense value of a meditation practice and I am finding people from all walks of life – people in business, lawyers, academics, doctors, psychologists, mothers, students, scholars, models and many others – benefiting from meditation. Even the World Banks ex-President Jim Yong Kim stresses the many benefits of meditation.

There are many forms of meditation most of which increase our ability to be with our experience in a conscious and non-judgemental way. That ability is mindfulness and mindfulness can be applied in every aspect of our lives.

Rather that reacting automatically to every circumstance, through mindfulness, we are able to choose to react in the wisest possible way.

There is no doubt that, with science verifying the tremendous value of mindfulness meditation, more and more people have become comfortable with these practices. Witness this extract from an article in the Huffington Post:

Caroline Gregoire writes that: ‘It’s undeniable that there is a mindful revolution going on, and that more people than ever before are embracing the well-documented physical and mental health benefits of meditation. …”Everyone benefits from meditation,” Russell Simmons, …told CNN. “This idea of letting your mind settle is in every religion, but is also in every spiritual teaching. … Operating from a calm space has gotten to be the greatest gift that anyone can be given… all happiness comes from inside…”

Even the medical profession is buying into the value of meditation.

Scientific studies have found that mindfulness prevents burnout and boosts compassion among physicians. Some hospitals have actually started bringing mindfulness into their facilities.

The potential for mindfulness practices to revolutionise mental health and psychiatric care is enormous, and it’s already well underway. With his Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program, meditation expert and MIT medical professor Jon Kabat-Zinn helped to bring mindfulness into the world of psychiatry.

So far, the research has proven meditation to be an effective, low-cost, side effect-free intervention that can reduce anxiety and depression, as well as lowering stress levels and boosting emotional well-being. Mindfulness has even been used in addiction treatment and has been shown to help smokers kick the habit.

“Get out of our heads and learn to experience the world directly, experientially, without the relentless commentary of our thoughts,” Mark G. Williams, John D. Teasdale, Zindel V. Segal and Kabat-Zinn wrote in The Mindful Way Through Depression: Freeing Yourself From Chronic Unhappiness. “We might just open ourselves up to the limitless possibilities for happiness that life has to offer us.”

Meditation has also been proven to have a number of benefits for students: It can boost focus, attention and memory, lower stress levels and improve sleep quality, and some studies have even found mindfulness training to improve test scores. An increasing number of schools, both private and public, from elementary to high school, are beginning to integrate mindfulness into their curriculums…

Meditation is becoming increasingly common among a population that’s at high risk for stress and stress-related health problems: Soldiers and veterans. Through Operation Warrior Wellness program, the David Lynch Foundation is bringing Transcendental Meditation to over 10,000 veterans with PTSD and their families. The program is helping to promote resiliency and well-being among soldiers, empower the families of veterans, and relieve symptoms of PTSD, which as many as one in eight returning soldiers may suffer from.

So, as Sylvia Goldstein once said: ‘Don’t just do something, sit there!’

Learn to meditate and experience the immense benefits for yourself!

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