By Pebbles Mendoza
Boracay Sun’s Lifestyle page on Facebook has recently featured some really great videos courtesy of our Island Yoga guru Robyn Wilder. The response and many comments highlighted just how many people have started taking yoga and meditating as important factors in their life.
What with the recent lockdowns curtailing our outside activities, many have now turned to exercising both their minds and bodies at home.
Not just ordinary people like you and me, but many celebrities also.
What is Meditation?
Energy medicine authority and bestselling author Deborah King says that meditation is neither a religion nor a philosophy. It's a technique for calming the mind, clearing distractions, getting enough energy to banish fatigue, and balancing the mind and body.
Meditation helps you slow down, develop awareness, be mindful of the present, cultivate compassion, and empower yourself.
Ultimate enlightenment isn’t necessarily the goal, although - if you’re spiritually inclined - meditation opens you up to a greater connection to the "Source," King adds.
Benefits of Meditation
According to Emma Seppälä, PhD, writing in Psychology Today, the following are some of the scientifically validated benefits of meditation:
It boosts your health by increasing your immune function and decreasing inflammation and pain.
It boosts your happiness by decreasing depression, anxiety, and stress.
It boosts your social life by increasing your emotional intelligence and making you more compassionate.
It boosts your productivity by improving your memory and your ability to think out of the box.
A 2012 Harvard Gazette article reported a study on brain changes that confirmed some of these benefits. The study found that meditation actually affects how the brain functions even when someone is not actively meditating.
Celebrities Who Meditate
In an article entitled "Surprising celebrities who meditate,” Well+Good gave a rundown of personalities who incorporate meditation in their daily lives, including:
Giselle Bundchen - The supermodel credits yoga and meditation with helping her keep fit during her first pregnancy. She also says mindfulness practices helped her lose the baby weight in a mere two months.
Angelina Jolie - The Academy Award-winning actress, director, activist and mother says she finds “meditation moments” in everyday things, such as playing with her six children.
Richard Gere - The actor also happens to be a practicing Buddhist and a devout student of the Dalai Lama. He says his faith keeps him grounded in Hollywood.
The UK's Telegraph newspaper also came up with a list, featuring the following household names:
Tina Turner - The singing legend credits her Buddhist beliefs as well as her regular practice of meditation for giving her the strength to leave her abusive marriage in the 1970s.
Orlando Bloom - The movie star likewise credits meditation and the philosophies behind it for helping him keep away from the self-destructive path common in Tinseltown.
Russell Simmons - The entrepreneur enthuses that meditating gives him “energy, strength, health, wisdom, and access to my own inner stillness, inner silence, inner bliss.”
Sting - The singer practices both yoga and meditation with his wife, and expounds, “Yoga introduced me to a style of meditation. The only meditation I would have done before would be in the writing of songs.”
How to Meditate
Is meditating easy? It takes practice, but the steps are straightforward.
Meditation instructor Paul Harrison explains on Quora that, at its core, meditation is the exercise of intentionally focusing awareness on one single thing. A lot of guided exercises will ask you to focus on your breath, but it’s really all about focusing on a solitary stimulus at a time.
He describes these steps as the most basic way to meditate:
Get comfortable and have good posture.
Take a few deep breaths to start.
Tell yourself how long you will meditate for. You may want to set a timer for this.
Silence your mind. Quiet your thoughts. Focus your awareness. If you have stray thoughts, just let them come and go as they will.
Focus on your breathing.
Carry on for however long you decided to meditate for.
You can start doing this on your own, or you can download apps like Headspace, Calm, and Plum Village if you prefer guided meditations.
Not Just a Trend
Meditation isn’t just the latest wellness trend. It’s an empowering practice that has been around for thousands of years and is backed by science. And while it might espouse accepting things that are, Arianna Huffington and Richard Davidson, PhD, make it clear in a 2018 Thrive Global post that acceptance does not translate to resignation. It is not a passive approach to life. The meaning of acceptance, they maintain, is summed up perfectly in the serenity prayer: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.”
Before checking your social media notifications in the morning, meditate for a few minutes and create a peaceful space that helps you be more efficient and effective.