By now almost everyone has heard of meditation and mindfulness. From CEOs to athletes, tech companies and within giants such as Apple and Nike – there’s a movement towards incorporating more mindfulness into our lives. In 2007, Google launched a 7-week mindfulness course for its employees called Search Inside Yourself to help them cope with one of its gravest threats…burnout.
Yet for many, meditation and mindfulness still seem obscure and hard to connect to. You might have heard of some of the countless benefits of meditation, but just like exercise, meditation is a practice that needs follow through in order to see results.
According to this study women are more interested in meditation, and receive more benefits, than men. So what are the benefits of meditation specific to men and how do you start?
The first thing to do is set your intention to meditate. Start slow and build from there.
It’s always important as with any new endeavor to set realistic intentions that you can follow through. For example, are you looking to stress less, sleep better, be more focused, control anxiety, eat more mindfully, be a better listener…? Once you identify your intention or intentions, find a realistic schedule that works for you and commit. Whether it’s twice a week for 10min or 4 times a week or longer, start small and build your practice from there. Try and commit to specific days and times as much as possible. Do not cancel or push your meditation appointment with yourself.The Benefits
1. Understanding and creating awareness around your emotions:
Emotions are complex and many of us, especially men, tend to avoid them or try to find a way to bury the root cause of some of our deep seated emotions. With regular meditation practice, you can create awareness and insight into a better understanding of yourself.
A 2012 study by the University of California San Francisco, found that eight weeks of meditation improved the emotional awareness, and social behavior, of 82 school teachers aging between 25 and 60. This makes sense since many of our anger triggers come from a place of feeling “stuck” or unresolved. This can go as far back as childhood history. Through meditation practice you can start uncovering and dive deeper into some of those stuck emotions.
Once we confront them, we create awareness and mindfulness, giving space between the emotion itself and how it tends to control us. Over time we start noticing the emotions as they come up, but we won’t react to them in the same manner we would normally.
We then can free ourselves from habitual patterns that don’t serve us and, as a side benefit, improve our health. According to the Journal of American Heart Association, we can reduce death, heart attacks, and strokes in heart patients by just teaching them how to cope with anger. Something you can deliberately do with meditation.
2. Reduces Stress and Anxiety Around Work
Daily life has become a source of stress for many of us and, according to a recent survey, 50 percent of men and 40 percent of women in the US say work is their main cause of stress.
For many men the notion of carrying the responsibility of job, and income security and either supporting or co-supporting a family is quite big and stress related issues manifest into all kinds of secondary issues. This can be short temper, fatigue, lack of sleep, worry, and even our home life can suffer.
Maybe it’s fear of not earning enough —which is the reason behind most divorces, or getting promoted, having difficulty with co-workers or a boss, or even being generally unhappy with our current job state.
A regular meditation practice can help ease the underlying stress and anxiety since it activates the anterior cingulated cortex responsible for attention allocation and decision making leading to a notable decrease in anxiety.
3. Eases The Transition from Work to Home Life
It’s not always easy to switch gears from work life to home life. If you’ve got a partner and little kids at home, sometimes walking into the house can feel overwhelming after a long stressful day.
When all you want to do is unwind a 10 minute meditation in the car can help anchor and ground you before stepping into your home. You can set an intention to be present with yourself and to the rhythm of family life.
4. Reduces the Pressure of Social Comparison
If you know Instagram then you probably familiar with how social comparison can ruin one’s self esteem, and it’s often linked to anxiety and depression.
This is common in men who identify themselves as providers. Men can feel intense pressure to succeed at work and succeed financially. Often times, it’s easy to fall into the trap of comparing yourself to how your friends and colleagues are doing. Extra pressure sometimes comes from social media viewing as well.
We tend to compare our lives to everyone’s else’s pictures of vacations, travels, kids concerts, etc… If they’re much more successful or perceived happiness than you, you may feel pangs of jealousy or insufficiency. If they’re not, you might be inclined to judge them. Meditation can help you stay in the present moment and focus on what values matter to you.
According to this study by the University of Wisconsin-Madison, meditation affects the areas of the brain responsible for cultivating compassion which makes practitioners more empathetic and less susceptible to the negative effects of social comparisons.
Originally published at Goodmenproject.com