Meditation goes mainstream as a growing number of Americans practice mindfulness


Noah Wilbur | Opinions Editor

In the age of 24-hour connectivity, sky-high expectations and a craving for instant gratification, the reality is that today’s world continues to inflict a heavy toll on our everyday lives.

The relentless desire for achievement and greater wealth at the expense of our well-being is a deeply rooted tendency in Western culture that is the culprit of our society’s mental health problems.

With anxiety and stress related diagnoses disturbingly becoming the norm in the U.S., the evidence is continuing to build that our fast-paced, interconnected society has inflicted severe psychological damage across the population, young and old.

As a result, within the past decade, Americans are increasingly on the search for balance in life: the equilibrium between absolute peace and rock-bottom; a moment where you can reach a period of calmness.

In search of this “equilibrium,” people are turning to holistic wellness practices as a means to naturally alleviate symptoms of stress and improve focus and mental stability. Research indicates that a growing number of folks are joining yoga studios, visiting the chiropractor and “floating” at the nearest salt tanks.

Of the unconventional therapies growing in popularity, meditation in particular has received broad recognition with millions unplugging from today’s hectic society by combining the ancient technique of mindfulness with 21st century technology.

A recent study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) discovered that 14.2% of American adults now meditate; a threefold increase since 2012. Not to mention, kids are joining the trend too with 5.4% of adolescents practicing meditation.

Not long ago, a social stigma surrounded the art of meditation with practitioners often viewed as hippies and free souls strolling onto a grassy field to enter an alternate universe for a few hours.

Lack of accessibility to classes and instructors, a steep learning curve and fear of the unknown are a few of the turnoffs that kept prospective practitioners from fully committing for many years. It simply took too much effort and time to attempt this new skill in an already hectic lifestyle.

Nevertheless, start-ups such as Calm and Headspace removed this stigma by mainstreaming meditation through user-friendly mobile platforms that provide a simple and engaging curriculum, guiding users along their journey of mastering mindfulness.

Hailed by many as the “fastest growing wellness activity in the US,” mobile devices provide immediate access to meditation right in the palm of our hands.

As a college student, my experience is that meditation allows me to decompress after a busy day of checking items off a never-ending-to-do-list while managing the constant pressure of conceiving an appropriate post-graduation plan.

In a world consumed by a cacophony of distractions from social media and hectic career paths, I recommend that more people take advantage of the widespread availability of meditation to navigate stress, add much-needed balance to life and focus on moment-by-moment experiences.