Meditation and yoga are officially the most popular alternative health discipline in the U.S. According to the studies published by Tainya et al in 2018, in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the numbers of people meditate more than triple between 2012 and 2017.
It’s not just adults, but kids are learning to meditate these days too, thanks to the influence of their teachers. I was pleasantly surprised when the five-year-old daughter of my friend told me she was practicing mindfulness at school. Unfortunately, this is not taught in all the schools. Since meditation develops concentration, focus, mental clarity, calmness, and tolerance, it should be part of a foundation program taught in all the schools, as well as workplaces.
When I was traveling India some years ago, one day, I came across a group of about two hundred students under the age of ten, sitting in the open meditation hall, being guided by their teachers in the art of meditation. Coming from the West, it was a strange but wonderful sight to behold. One of the teachers invited the group I was traveling with to meditate with them. It was a beautiful up-lifting experience that I will always treasure. Can you imagine what a wonderful world we live in if we all meditate?
Meditation has been practiced for thousands of years in Asia, but it has only been popular in the West the last few decades after the introduction of Zen, and from clinical studies like Jon Kobat-Zinn, and the beautiful teachings of the Dalai Lama, Thich Nhat Hanh, and western monks like Ajahn Sumedho, and ex-monks likes Jack Kornfield.
Of course, these days, meditation apps and other online platforms make meditation accessible to everyone in the world.
It is not simply a trend that makes meditation more popular, but people are increasingly seeking an alternative way to deal with mental issues such as stress, anxiety, and distractions without resorting to pharmaceutical products. It makes perfect sense: pharmaceutical products may help temporarily, but they do not tackle the root causes – the mind. Not to mention also the dependency and side effects of the medications.
Meditation doesn’t just help the mind, it helps the body too – we all know the body and mind are intricately linked. For more details, see my article on the physical and psychological benefits of meditation.