It seems that everyone’s talking about meditation lately. But is it just another overrated buzzword? Or does meditation actually have benefits like improving your resilience?
Psychologist Dr Bronwyn Coward, a big proponent of meditation, says it’s the latter.
“The thing I like about meditation is that it’s a portable skill,” she explains. “You can take it anywhere and do it without anybody else around you noticing. If you’re feeling stressed, a few minutes of meditation can help to bring down that autonomic nervous system.”
So if you’re coping with moving house or dealing with job loss, meditation may well be helpful. Here are Dr Bronwyn’s responses to some of the more interesting meditation questions she’s come across.
Is meditation overrated?
Dr Bronwyn definitely doesn’t think meditation is overrated. She uses it a lot with her clients to help them move from either focusing on the past or worrying about the future into the here and now.
When you practice meditation, you'll probably find yourself staying more in the moment.
“When you’re dwelling on something that’s already happened, you can start to feel a lack of control,” she says. “Likewise, if you’re worrying about future events that haven’t happened yet, your mental wellbeing can also take a hit.
But meditation brings you back to the present moment. When you meditate, you’re not thinking about the past or the future. Instead, you’re connected with the present moment, which is quite powerful.”
Does meditation give you energy?
Motivation meditations certainly exist, Dr Bronwyn acknowledges. And while their link with increased energy isn’t scientifically proven, she thinks a connection is likely.
“If you think about what meditation helps with,” she adds, “It makes sense that meditating might improve your energy. We know it can improve your mental wellbeing and sleep. As a by-product of that, you might well focus better, be more productive, and stick to routines more easily. As a result of all that, you could certainly find that you have more energy. I wouldn’t necessarily say there’s a causal link, but nothing happens in isolation.”
How do you meditate in the bath?
Curious about how to meditate in the bath? According to Dr Bronwyn, the answer is, “just like you’d meditate in any other space.”
The reality is that to meditate, you just need to feel safe and comfortable. And looking for the perfect spot to meditate is sometimes what holds people back from starting meditation in the first place.
“You don’t have to be in a dark room, or on a beach in Bali, or in an ashram somewhere to meditate effectively,” explains Dr Bronwyn. “You can be in your backyard, or in the bath, or even on a train.”
Wherever you are, just follow your regular meditation practice. (Although, if you are in the bath, be mindful of your surroundings and safety!)
Is there such a thing as too much meditation?
Meditation takes practice and persistence. You won’t start meditating one day and master it the next. So rather than ‘how much meditation is too much?’, the issue is more often ‘how consistent do you need to be to see a benefit?’
“Your mind is designed to generate thoughts,” Dr Bronwyn says. “That’s very normal. And it takes time to learn to observe those thoughts rather than getting tangled up in them.”
Because of this, Dr Bronwyn always recommends that people start small with meditation. “Once you’ve been doing it for a while,” she adds, “you’ll probably start noticing that you can meditate for longer. But at the beginning, five to ten minutes is a really good timeframe.”
What about the best time of day to meditate? Dr Bronwyn believes that a specific daily routine is great, but that it’s better to meditate irregularly than to not do it at all.
Meditation is for everyone
Perhaps you want to introduce a meditation practice to support your gratitude affirmations. Or it may be part of your overall health goals, alongside eating more sustainable food and living a more active life.
Regardless, Dr Bronwyn says, you may discover benefits both now and well into the future.
“When you practice meditation, you'll probably find yourself staying more in the moment,” she finishes. “As a result, you may notice other positive by-products, including cognitive functioning . That can then help with absorbing information, and making better general decisions in life.”
Dr Bronwyn Coward is a registered Psychologist, an endorsed Clinical Neuropsychologist and an AHPRA board-approved supervisor who draws on over a decade of experience to bring solution-based assessments to her clients.
Reviewed by the healthylife Advisory Board August 2, 2021.