Do you meditate? While there are many different types of meditation developed by a diverse range of cultures – Indian, Buddhist, Zen and others in the East and West -- all have the common goal of achieving spiritual growth. In “The Purpose and Benefits of the Various Meditation Techniques,” Remez Sasson writes that while the ultimate goal of meditation is to reach beyond the mind and live in the world of pure spirit, for most people meditation helps them reduce physical and mental stress and achieve peace of mind.
As the owner of a spa or massage practice, you have significant responsibilities and pressures. You need to accommodate clients, manage your team, keep up to date on the latest skin treatments and massage therapies and even run a retail operation. By learning to meditate, whatever type you choose, you can alleviate stress and also strengthen your ability to concentrate.
If you are feeling anxious, meditation also can help. The MindBodyGreen site points to a 2009 study in the Journal of Clinical Psychology that found meditation decreased anxiety and increased hope in its participants. And if worry is keeping you up, meditation may help you sleep better. Another study at the University of Minnesota indicated that patients with chronic insomnia who followed a three-month meditation program at home improved their ability to fall asleep and stay asleep.
Meditation Helps the Body as well as the Mind
The benefits of meditation aren’t only for your state of mind. Harvard Researchers found that in long-term practitioners of relaxation methods, far more disease-fighting genes were active compared to individuals who practiced no form of relaxation. In particular the researchers found that “the relaxation effect” switched on genes to protect the body from pain, high blood pressure, rheumatoid arthritis and even infertility by releasing serotonin and the growth hormone that repair cells and tissues. By contract, stress releases adrenalin and cortisol – stress hormones – which raise the heart rate and blood pressure, weaken immunity and lower fertility.
While meditation can help you cope with the pressures of running your spa or massage therapy practice and benefit your health, it also can make you more empathetic, which is essential to a practitioner of healing therapies. A few years ago, the Atlantic magazine wrote that a team at Emory University developed and tested a form of meditation called Cognitively-Based Compassion Training (CBCT), which was derived from Tibetan Buddhism. Over eight weeks, 13 subjects were randomly assigned to weekly meetings where they participated in instruction, guided meditation and group discussion and also completed CBT on their own. Eight control subjects participated in health discussion classes that covered mind-body topics but did not include any meditation.
Researchers tested the participants’ ability to empathize by showing them photographs of people making various expressions. Participants who practiced meditation over the eight weeks showed improvement in their ability to identify the expressions. They had increased brain activity in parts of their brain that are associated with empathy. By contrast scores on the empathy test actually worsened on many of the control group participants.
Clearly there are a number of compelling reasons-- reducing stress, improving your health and making you more empathetic -- to try meditation if you haven’t already. However if you are looking for even more benefits, here’s a list of 100 of them...