Not too long ago I was telling my mother how busy I was and she asked me whether I was working on Sundays. While I wasn’t necessarily “working” on my Sundays, I definitely was busy on Sundays and she reminded me that there was a reason why traditionally most cultures/religions had a day of rest. In my race to get more and more accomplished, any time I have on weekends has become fair game to meet those ends and as a result, I don’t take time to sit and do nothing. So is this such a bad thing? Perhaps it is.
Meditation has formed an integral part of many religions; from Buddhism, to Christianity to Islam, many doctrines integrate the practice of introspection into their rituals. The purpose: training the mind. While meditation can be devotional or technical there are studies to suggest that meditation can assist us with self-discipline, compassion, anxiety and yes…intelligence.
In a study conducted in Taiwan, 15-20 minutes of Transcendental Meditation over a period of 6-12 months was shown to have a direct impact on anxiety, which can often have an impact on how well students perform on tests. However the strongest effects were on creativity, practical intelligence and field independence. What did they extrapolate from that? “These variables (creativity, practical intelligence and field independence) have in common that they reflect integration of many factors that impact cognitive processing.” p. 435. What does this mean?
Not only does meditation help us with our divergent and convergent thinking, it also helps us develop compassion, sensitivity, humor and willingness to take chances. The study goes on to say that meditation could help students build structure in ambiguous situations, while building flexibility, withstanding peer pressure as well as leadership skills. And most importantly, it contributes to optimism and a positive outlook on life. In short, we need time to think (or not think!) to stay happy and think clearly.
As I finish typing this blog entry, it is 9:00am on Sunday morning. It seems like a lot of work to rationalize giving myself the day off but I think it will be worth it!