The Big Debate: Is Meditation Really All It’s Cracked Up To Be?

Team STELLAR go head-to-head on issues big and small.

On the Yes side is our chief designer Katie Gilligan

Have you ever found yourself beyond help when a webpage doesn’t load within three seconds? Or when Spotify just won’t connect? It’s tough going being a later Gen Millennial. We’ve grown up as digital natives, having access to information and conversation at the touch of a button. As a result, we have a concentration span of about 30 seconds and are plagued by anxieties, impatience and insecurities. Now, I’m not saying meditation is the remedy, but it certainly helps if you give it a chance.

The word itself screams so many familiar, bet-into-us tropes that almost make it incomprehensible when you’re considering giving it a go, but the good news is it’s not as cliched as you might think, which is something I learned when I spent a weekend at a Shamanic retreat. I won’t lie, I spent the first half of the trip in a tense panic, trying to keep up with a multitude of guided meditations. However, practice makes perfect, and when you figure out how to make it work for you, it’s an invaluable tool to help you achieve whatever peace of mind you might need.

Life is hectic, I’m forever with friends and have plenty of hobbies to keep me busy… but time flies when you’re having fun and as adults we always fall prey to ruminating on the negative. Taking ten minutes every day to sit with your thoughts makes you realise how little we spend in the present moment. It’s an opportunity to catch those negative feelings and to process your week or your day, and put some things into perspective. Your subconscious is doing more work for you than you might think in those few minutes.

Using an app like Headspace or Calm can really help you along, as can any comforts such as smells, sounds etc. You can also go down a less predictable route and find your peace while cleaning or going through the motions of a weighty skincare routine. It’s about soaking in your surroundings and thoughts, and not necessarily blocking out every sound or situation that’s playing on your mind. Being mindful of whatever you’re doing is a step in the right direction, and once it’s working for you, it doesn’t really matter the method. Everyone has their own way of recharging, but once you feel the benefits, it’s addictive and you’ll look forward to those few minutes every day!

And saying no is editor Vicki Notaro

I often suffer with stress. I have a lovely but high-pressure job, lots of events to juggle, a home to run, relationships to both manage and enjoy, dogs to walk, walls to paint, people to please… like the rest of us, a very busy schedule. Have you ever seen that meme that goes on about excelling in your career, sustaining friendships, staying married, eating right, drinking enough water, texting everyone back and getting enough exercise? Yeah, that’s all of us.

So every now and then, I look for a solution to all the stress daily life in 2018 brings about. My regular plan of attack is to do absolutely nothing, to lie on the couch and watch terrible television, read real-life magazines and eat. Or alternatively, go on the absolute tear. However, it has been pointed out to be that the subsequent weight gain, slothful behaviour and copious amounts of Prosecco can actually all contribute to said stress, and that I should really be trying to find inner peace through more zen processes, like yoga and meditation.

And I’ve tried. Dear reader, I have TRIED. But I can’t help it – my body does not like to meditate. Tell me to focus on my breathing and I can guarantee you I’ll be hyperventilating in under a minute. Instruct me to live in the moment and I will be plotting my next restaurant reservations in my mind. Advise me to shut out all outside noise, and I am listening intently for my neighbour’s cat miaowing to see if she is trying to tell me something. Meditation is just not for me, no matter what app I download to help. But of course, I feel bad about that. I’m told all the time that it’s the secret to coping with anxiety, the key to living a more chilled and centred life. So now I’m worrying about the very thing that’s meant to help me. If meditation, crystals, essential oils, yoga, colouring, chanting et al work for you, that’s great. For me that list reads like: Guilt, what even are they, allergic, makes me angry, can’t stay inside the lines, feel like a gobshite (in that order.) And that’s okay too.

If my way to unwind is less zen than yours, then I’m just a less zen person. What makes me happy and serene is fun, frolics, loudness, TV, hugs, sex, cheers, chewing, throwing toys for my dogs and above all, the absolute craic.

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