We are thrilled to see the growing popularity of both meditation and mindfulness. Not only has science proven that meditation boosts your health (increasing your immune system while decreasing inflammation), but it also boosts your happiness, your self-control and your ability to better connect with others, which, in turn, makes you more likely to live longer. Additionally, the latest research shows that meditation practices actually increase the amount of gray matter in your brain as well as “cortical thickness” (a key feature of individuals who are able to pay attention and focus longer).
And, when it comes to mindfulness, science has proven through numerous studies that it is a powerful natural way to reduce stress, improve your memory, and have happier relationships and overall satisfaction in life.
All of these tremendous, science-backed benefits are causing more people than ever to show interest in learning how to do it - and how to teach it. While it’s exciting to see, this surge of growth is also a bit unsettling.
There are so many opportunities to be misguided by information or mislead by less experienced teachers and so-called “experts”. Yes, more people should be meditating and, yes, everyone can benefit from the teachings of mindfulness. However, understanding basic principles or going through a “training” to become a meditation or mindfulness teacher is rarely enough. The nuances of both meditation and mindfulness are not something that can be taught online or through apps. They also aren’t something that teachers can pick up in just a few months (or even a few years) of training.
In order to reap the real benefits of meditation and mindfulness practices, you absolutely must work with a dedicated professional. Even if you don’t have an expert trainer in the area that you can train with in person, individually or in a small group, there are teachers that also offer individual and/or group trainings live online using video conferencing or FaceTime. The benefit of doing this type of live training is that the teacher or trainer can give you real-time, personalized feedback, something that no app or recorded video can do.
Being discerning before allocating your time and money on a less-than-qualified teacher or an ineffective method of training is key to getting the most out of these powerful practices.
AnJenette Afridi, M.A. is a Health Psychology Expert, Speaker, and Advocate in private practice in the San Francisco Bay Area. She holds a Master’s Degree in Psychology and has more than three decades of expertise in the field. AnJenette teaches MEDITATION, MINDFULNESS, and MINDFUL WHOLESOME EATING. AJ has worked with corporations, hospitals, health centers, schools, and private clientele including adults and adolescents. You can work with AJ in person at her office or off-site, by phone, or online via video conferencing.