Mindfulness and the Modern Issue of Smartphone Use

Silent meditation retreats have a lot of benefits. They promote better social connections and calmness. And of course the kind of mindful awareness that’s a hallmark of holistic and eastern medicine. But a recent study should make people consider whether that might extend to some more modern subjects as well.

The journal Computers in Human Behavior looked at the role of smartphone use in overall emotional durability. Basically, how well one could predict whether smartphone use would become problematic. One certainly doesn’t need to look far to see examples of it in action.

There’s a huge amount of people who retreat into the comfort of their apps the second the world becomes hard to cope with. It’s a natural feeling. A few decades back, many of the same people would retreat to a good book in those same moments. But the main issue comes down to the higher chance of emotional issues as a result. There’s not a lot of people who suffer emotional problems as a result of reading too many books. While overuse of a smartphone is quite common.

But one of the most interesting points relates back to the issue of silent meditation retreats. These retreats aren’t meant to be an escape from the world. In many ways they’re closer to an emotional gym. One goes to build up something known as mindfulness. This concept is a central part of most eastern meditative practices. And interestingly, it’s also part of the smartphone study.

Researchers discovered that lack of mindfulness is one of the stronger predictive factors for later smartphone usage problems. Basically, if someone lacks mindfulness the chances that they’ll suffer an emotional break is greatly increased. One can easily see a possible solution by combining meditation or retreats with his or her smartphone.

Instead of taking a retreat to step back from social interaction, it can include digital interaction as well. And when one returns it will be with a more healthy and balanced mindset. One which can better handle smartphone use.

Just One Meditation Retreat Has Powerful Psychological Effects, New Study Suggests

A study out of the University of California, Davis, suggests that only one intensive meditation course can have profound psychological effects on a person’s life. In particular, researchers note that a few months of intense meditation can help naturally increase a practitioner’s attention span.

This latest study on the long-term benefits of meditation is officially a part of the International Shamatha Project. Created by Dr. B. Alan Wallace of the Santa Barbara Institute for Consciousness Studies, the Shamatha Project brings together some of the world’s top scientists and yogis as they attempt to better understand the effects of meditation on the human mind.

Researchers involved in this study followed a group of 60 advanced meditators who went on a three-month retreat at Colorado’s Shambhala Mountain Center in 2007. During this intensive meditation retreat, meditators were required to practice sitting and walking meditation with Dr. Alan Wallace at least eight hours per day.

When the three months were over, researchers discovered that the meditation practitioners had increased focus and had a better time dealing with anxiety. Scientists continued to track the meditators’ mental wellbeing over the past seven years.

The latest study out of UC Davis presents data seven years after the initial meditation retreat. Investigators say they were curious how long it took the psychological benefits of meditation to “wear off,” if they diminished at all.

Interestingly, study authors discovered that most meditators’ attention spans didn’t decline with age. They also found that most of the study participants showed no signs of common age-related neurodegenerative diseases.

While people who continued to practice least an hour of meditation per day had the greatest benefits, researchers say even study participants who didn’t practice meditation every day experienced benefits from the retreat.

Clifford Saron of UC Davis’s Center for Mind and Brain was the head author on this study. A few other psychologists involved in this research include Anthony P. Zanesco, Katherine A. MacLean, and Brandon G. King.

This study was published in the most recent edition of the Journal of Cognitive Enhancement under the title “Cognitive Aging and Long-Term Maintenance of Attentional Improvements Following Meditation Training.”

A Look At How Meditation Changed A Women’s Life

Suzy Stratner says she got introduced to meditation at work. Her first experience involved a guided meditation session with colleagues that lasted for about 10 minutes. After it was over, Suzy recalled feeling like she was just pampered at a spa.

The feeling of peacefulness and relaxation made Suzy Stratner wonder, what is meditation and why is it so calming. It also made her inquire if there were additional benefits to this holistic procedure on her health. What Ms. Stratner found out was that meditation is simply observing and focusing on your breath in its most basic form.

While it may seem simple and easy to do, meditation has a huge amount of benefits. For example, Suzy Stratner discovered that meditating can actually impact your behavior for the better. It can even change your brain composition and help regulate mood, which is an excellent tool for people who are moody or who suffer from mood swings.

There are also physical benefits to meditation. They include reducing inflammation, especially in the brain. The reduced inflammation can help with headaches and also reduces the risk of disease such as cancer and other chronic illnesses. Meditation can also help with with mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, fear and the inability to sleep or insomnia. One can say that meditation is a wonder treatment. Stratner reports that helping people mediate through private sessions or group sessions is now a billion dollar plus business.

By just practicing meditation for about 5 minutes a day, Suzy Stratner noticed that she has become much more calmer. When she talks she is much more clear and to the point. Another benefit that Stratner has gotten from meditation is that she is now focused on the present and is not overly worrying about what to do next. Stressful situations such as traffic jams also do not faze her anymore.