Is Mindfulness a Trend? Or Here to Stay?

 

Did you see this article? In the last 5 years, there’s been a 55% increase in the number of Americans doing yoga, and a 350% increase in the number of Americans meditating. 350%! In just five years! The article starts out with this:

“Yoga and meditation, two ancient practices, are now officially the most popular alternative health approaches in the United States, each used by around 35 million adults.”

Then it goes into the benefits of these practices — with research and data to back up the claims. For example:

“A 2014 meta-analysis by Johns Hopkins researchers for the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality found that meditation, and in particular mindfulness, can have a role in treating depression, anxiety, and pain in adults — as much as medications but with no side effects.”

The article also goes into concerns with the trends. It turns out white people have more access to these practices than people of color, and that practitioners are concerned that as the popularity grows, the practices could be corrupted.

“And as more people see yoga and meditation as a business opportunity, “there’s a challenge around preserving the authenticity of these practices and ensuring they are taught with fidelity,” said Davidson. That means respecting and sharing the long history of the practices, and teaching them in a rigorous way.”

In the mood to discuss this with me? Are you taking part in this mindfulness trend? I suppose I’m feeling a bit out of the loop. I mean, I’m definitely aware that people are talking more and more about meditation, but I would have never guessed there’s been a 350% increase. I don’t think I understood how many people are meditating.

As for yoga, I haven’t attended classes since we lived in New York (which seems so long ago!). I tend to put yoga in the exercise category, and I haven’t really thought of it as a mindfulness practice. Obviously I realize it can work in either category, but for me personally, I used yoga as an attempt to stay fit, not as a tool for mental health.

Because there’s been a big boom in other types of exercise classes — like spin and barre and dozens of others — I guess I had the impression that the yoga trend had peaked, and that people had moved to other options. Turns out I have it all wrong. Hah! (This is not the first time I’ve misunderstood the scope and longevity of a trend. Another time, ask me about how long I thought the candle trend would last when I was asked back in 1995.)

How about you? Do you have a regular yoga practice? Or like me, did you have one in the past? And what are your thoughts on meditation? Do you practice? If yes, where did you learn about it? Or learn how to do it? Do you use an app? Did you read a book? Take a class? Have you tried different types of meditation? I’m so curious!

P.S. — After I read the article, I ended up looking into mindfulness products to see if there’s anything that sparked my interest. And there was! Eleven of my finds are below — some I want to purchase, others I just think are noteworthy. If you have any mindfulness products to recommend to me, I’m all ears.

Mindfulness Cards — $16
You can draw one card to form an intention for the day, or pull several for a more complex reading. Did you see them in the image at top? I think they’re so pretty.

Mindful Breathing Necklace — $95
Todd and Vanessa Steinberg created a pendant that encourages slow, conscious breathing, after they were inspired by a conversation with a flute-maker who taught them about ancient Japanese monks and their breathing techniques.

 

I Am Here Now Mindfulness Journal — $11
It’s designed to help you explore the world with greater curiosity and find moments of mindfulness in everyday life, while encouraging your creativity along the way.

Elemis Quiet Mind Temple Balm — $30
I’m told a few drops rubbed onto temples and massaged on the neck will soothe the skin and mind and help you de-stress. 

Brain Sensing Headband — $160
This one I thought was noteworthy because it’s such a modern take on an ancient idea. In the product description is says: Sometimes your mind is calm and sometimes it’s active, this headband will teach you to recognize a calm mind and help you get there. It seems like this sort of tech-response could make mindfulness feel less experimental or hippy-dippy for those who raise their eyebrows at the idea of mediation. Do you agree? Or does this seem hokey?

A Sloth’s Guide to Mindfulness — $17
In this book, you follow a serene and smiley sloth through a series of light meditations and daily reflections. 

Healing Crystal Gift Set — $30
This pretty little set includes all the necessary stones to get started in the world of crystal healing. I don’t know a single thing about crystal healing, but the look of this set is so appealing to me — lots of great little textures, and I love the rainbow stones.

Drunk Elephant Juju Bar — $28
You can send “good juju” to a friend if you gift them this anything-but-ordinary facial soap. With marula oil to help your skin look as zen as it feels.

Essential Oil Diffuser — $55
Here’s another option for people who want the ancient appeal of mediation, with the modern appeal of high-tech and clean lines. This has every up-to-date feature. It’s made of antibacterial materials to prevent mold buildup. It has a blue night mood light. And it turns off automatically if water runs out. 

Tiesta Tea Relaxer Set — $28
Tiesta Tea Relaxers are new to me. They’re designed to produce relaxing effects for both your body and mind, and they come in a wide variety of flavors. This set will help you try seven different options so you can find a favorite.


The Guide to Mindful Lettering — This is seems perfect for the right-brained among us that do well with a drawing utensil in their hand. You know those calming coloring books? This seems like it would offer similar benefits but with an added dose of creativity and skill-building.

Mala or Meditation Beads — $25
I found this mala on Etsy. There are many options and they can get very expensive — well into the hundreds. But this one seems both relatively affordable, and very beautiful. It’s made of matte Amazonite beads and is intended for meditation, praying, or to obtain peace. The product description mentions that Amazonite has been used to heal and open heart and throat chakras to enhance communication concerning love as well as with third eye chakra to increase intuition. If you’re unsure how mala beads are used in meditation, here’s a video.

38 thoughts on “Is Mindfulness a Trend? Or Here to Stay?”

  1. Meditation has changed my life. When my daughter was 10 years old, she suffered a traumatic brain injury at her grandparent’s cabin. As we lived in Hawaii at the time, the accident required us to move closer to medical care. We then endured a 5 year lawsuit against 3 different insurance companies, where we were court ordered to return to a state we did not live in multiple times. So, you could say my idyllic life is now a very, very stressful one. The panic, worry, and all emotions that range from extreme gratitude, to extreme despair. I started with youtube. I know how that sounds. But “sitting still” with my thoughts to calm my mind sounded like the ingredients for a panic attack. How on Earth could I calm my mind? It was impossible. So I learned to use a 10 minute guided meditation while I cleaned the house, or did laundry, etc. Kind of like a book on tape. It worked for me, because it was like a book on tape, but I was doing the deep breathing, which is the key to a calm mind. I learned about binary beats, and was able to move with my fear, while also having a clean kitchen. It is a practice, one I have been doing daily, for 5 years. I am better about being able to close my eyes and breathe deep. (In for 6, out for 5). I literally just type in what I need on youtube, i.e.; meditation for sleep, meditation for forgiveness, meditation for positivity…etc…literally anything you can think of. My point being, meditation is a practice. My life is not any easier, in fact, my daughters health recently took a turn, but I do have meditation to help me through it. Because I learned that there is more than one way to meditate, (not just sitting cross-legged with closed eyes), I have been able to benefit from the effects of meditation.

    1. Oh Amy. It sounds like it’s been a harrowing 5 years (and still counting!). I’m so sorry to hear about the turn in your daughter’s health. And I really appreciate your advice to check out what’s available on youtube meditation-wise. Youtube as a meditation source had not even crossed my mind!

  2. I have incorporated meditation and yoga into my everyday life. When I turned sixty and I was teaching music and movement to toddlers, I knew I had to find a more comfortable way to enjoy being on the floor with my classes. Yoga made it possible. Meditation came along for the ride when I found after using that skill 60 days in a row I had a more steady mind. It increased my ability to stay focused throughout the day just by cueing into my senses which brought me back into what was actually happening around me at the moment. I find that a steady mind keeps me from ruminating on the past and borrowing pain from the future.

    1. I really like how you approached yoga with a particular goal — to enjoy being on the floor. And I think your last line is beautifully put: I find that a steady mind keeps me from ruminating on the past and borrowing pain from the future.

  3. I’ve done yoga, and while I also think of it more in terms of physical fitness, I do think I benefit mentally from the breathing and slow movements. I want to do more yoga, but haven’t done it consistently for a long time. I used to practice a form of meditation when trying to go to sleep that involved completely clearing your mind. For most of my life, I’ve had a lot of trouble falling asleep at night, and this was a technique that was recommended to me. To be honest, I never got very good at the meditation.

    1. “To be honest, I never got very good at the meditation.”

      It seems like I’ve heard similar sentiments many times. As meditation becomes more popular, I wonder if people will be able to discover a wider range of mediation options so that they can find something that really fits.

  4. I’ve never successfully meditated. Last January I purchased the Calm app for meditation after it was recommended to me – there were a variety of types of guided meditations, sleep stories, soothing background noise, etc. Discovered I HATE the voice of the person who does 95% of the guided meditation, including all the short, daily meditations.

    I wish I had stuck with Yoga better. I really like it. My first class was for a gym elective in high school – I would have chosen it every semester if it was allowed. I really like a class with a teacher to make sure my form is correct, but fitting in a scheduled class (as well as cost) makes me skip it altogether. I didn’t care much about the meditation aspect when I was younger, but I would go for that reason as much as the physical training now.

    I’ve never met her, but my friend took as master class with Tao Porchon-Lynch and said she was a lovely person, and what an inspiration!

    I’m really interested in the Guide to Mindful Lettering.

    1. Ugh. That’s so frustrating about the Calm app. I haven’t explored any meditation apps but I hear there are some great options out there. I’m also intrigued by the Youtube suggestion above.

  5. I love the idea of mindfulness as the opposite of being light-minded. I still struggle with yoga and meditation and should try some of these ideas!

  6. I have done yoga for 25 years. It seemed like a natural extension of dance for me, but I have really come to appreciate the time I get to just focus on my breath and body in an otherwise very hectic day. I have always done it at a studio because I get way too distracted and am not motivated at home. What I tell everyone is if you don’t like it, try another teacher. Your experience of yoga is very dependent on the teacher, as they all come from different traditions and have different styles (and playlists!). I WISH I could get into meditation as I have seen it make a huge difference for a lot of people, but I just have not been able to make it a habit (outside of the meditation I do in yoga).

    1. “What I tell everyone is if you don’t like it, try another teacher.”

      I think that is so true. I remember loving classes, or just getting through them, depending on the teacher. Back in New York, ultimately, I turned to videos because trying to work around a yoga studio’s schedule was too challenging (especially with our houseful of little kids at the time!).

  7. I got into yoga after an injury put most high-impact exercising out of reach for 6 months. I started doing Yoga with Adrienne videos on YouTube and I have never looked back. It’s amazing the difference I feel both physically and mentally. She has hundreds of videos and they are talk-heavy, which I appreciate so I can follow along without looking at the screen. It’s been 9 months now and I have done yoga every single day. I’m back to my high impact activities of running and tabata and spinning and yoga is my centering.
    When I have a crazy or stressful day, I find that even a 15 minute flow will radically change my mindset.
    I enjoy her videos because I can do them anytime, anywhere.

  8. I am a huge fan of meditation! I actually just wrote a blog post about a silent retreat I took back in November that focused on Yoga and meditation – it was a wonderful experience. Mediation to me is a lot like exercise – I dread doing it, the first few minutes are painful but then all of the sudden I start to open up and relax.

    I highly recommend the 10% happier app and podcast. I also recommend Brother Steindl Rast’s gratitude meditation which has brought me to tears on more than one occasion.

    I love yoga too but don’t do it nearly enough. I really prefer yoga classes with music (loud music) and that is hard to find. It’s on my list for 2019.
    I do believe we should teach meditation in school – maybe call it something else, but teach people to pause a moment and just breath. It really can help.

      1. Lol. I have been to classes where they play cool yoga music that i can really hear. Then some with just like a quiet flute which makes me nuts! I once went to a class that played massive attack and eddie vedder. Was great.

  9. Yes to yoga and hell yes to meditation. Was a total doubter and maybe a bit smug about it even…then….some seriously stressful times hit and I could not silence my brain. What finally made me stop and listen was this explanation….we exercise our body and recognize it’s myriad benefits, but we totally neglect to exercise our most vital ‘organ’…the brain. Our brain is not meant to run amok, and we must exercise it in order to have some control over it. Headspace was a game changer as a learning tool and an intro into the basics of meditation (and beyond) and I consider the Calm app one of my best friends. Sleep stories have changed my life for the better and given me control over my magnificent worryfests. (Love most of the voices, especially the British men! :))

    My son, age 16 at the time, who wrestles mightily with anxiety and depression is the one who clued me in. After trying several avenues of treatment, he forged his own path and has found that more than any other medicine, meditation keeps him healthy. So grateful.

  10. Just coming off of a crazy-making medication I needed to take for a while for debilitating cluster and migraine headaches. A friend suggested the Curable App that her neurologist recommended, and I have been extremely responsive to it. The other day I could feel the headache coming on and hit the “panic” button and it guided me through a meditation that basically consisted of deep breathing. It worked. I relaxed and my neck and head did not end up in more uncomfortable pain. It also has taught me to refer to my headaches and pain in more positive terms and surprisingly that helps. I am a flight attendant and our schedules our out of this world some days, really messing with sleep. I do a quick Tara Stile’s Yoga video on YouTube when I wake up, whether it’s at 3am or 3pm. It feels good to do a bit of stretching and breathing.

  11. I am a therapist and finished reading “The Body Keeps the Score” last year. So so so good! The author focuses on trauma treatment and how our brains and bodies encode what happens to us. I was shocked to see that yoga is more helpful than medication in treating PTSD. Body awareness, inhabiting your body with increasing fullness, intentional breathing– all so helpful. I do think it matters where you practice. Some is more exercise/calorie burning-focused, which won’t necessarily have the same results.

    I’ve been going for a year and a half now and it’s the only exercise form that I don’t have to drag myself to. It works for me, both physically and to help with depression. I anticipate it sticking around… but also, what do I know:)

  12. Ok, this is going to sound weird. I do something called The Relaxation Protocol–with my dogs. It was developed by a veterinarian (Dr. Karen Overall) for stress and anxiety in dogs. I found it a few years ago through Leader Dogs for the Blind. I’m a puppy raiser, and the school found that puppies who did the Protocol had a greater rate of success as dog guides. It has helped my own dogs with Obedience stay exercise issues, and my dog with severe separation anxiety (think a behavioral vet at Purdue and Prozac) with life in general.
    The dog sits or lies in one position and gets a treat at irregular intervals , while the handler does increasingly complex behaviors, starting with a step away and return. The dog learns that calm behavior will always be rewarded.
    What I was not expecting was how much it has helped me. If you want calm behavior from your dog you need to model it. By the end of a 10-minute daily session I can feel my blood pressure dropping and my breathing smoothing out. We usually then proceed to a regular clicker-training session for Competition Obedience, and both the dog and I are calmer and more focused than if we went into the session cold.
    For anyone interested it will pop up with a quick Google search, and there are audio versions for free download.
    I think it’s also worth remembering that it was the monk/coach teaching the boys to meditate that kept them alive and sane in that Thai cave last summer.

  13. YES to yoga. It particularly helped me during both of my pregnancies. Prenatal yoga was the time that was just for me. Also, my second delivery escalated quickly and there was no time for an epidural (AAAHHHH), and the breathing I learned was my saving grace.
    For every day, I second Jen’s rec of Yoga with Adrienne. Such an easy way of squeezing in even just 15 minutes.

  14. I’m a big fan of Erin Boyle and she recently featured Alyson Morgan on her blog Reading My Tea Leaves.

    It’s a fascinating, and important, look at how mindfulness movement has been tainted by consumerism and that it’s, like all things, more easily accessed by wealthy, white people. I am certainly one to throw money and mindfulness rather than simply, well, be.

  15. In a sign of the times, both my childrens’ high school and jr high offers several levels of yoga that satisfies their PE requirement. My daughter said the class was half boys who twittered and joked for about a month and then slowly grew to love the class. Some participants were even huge football players working on flexibility and balance. She said the teachers were wonderful, recognizing there were simply some days where all a student could muster was “child pose” for an hour. The class and the meditation cool-down were a welcome reprieve from the intense stresses of today’s academic and teen life.

  16. Five years ago I was starting to think about meditation and had used a few 10min podcasts, with voices/structures that didn’t gel with me. A friend recommended the Headspace app which asks that you give it a go with 10mins a day for 10 days. I loved the narrator’s voice and matter-of-fact delivery and during those 10 days I did not yell at/argue with my partner once, for the first time in years. With that outcome I kept up the meditation since then. I’m not always consistent but I think in a busy life it gives me a moment of me time/space that then means that I can process everything else that is going on without losing my temper.

  17. Frances Eleanor

    As one of your “older” readers, I have come to realize one size does not fit all. Mindfulness, meditation, centering, balance, call it what you wish, can be achieved in many many ways. Yoga for some, transindental meditation for others. Having experienced both, my preferred activity of lap swimming meets my own meditative needs. It could be walking, bird watching, biking, running, moments of contemplation, readings etc for others. Anything not-harmful that works for the individual should be encouraged.

    1. With you all the way on this one. Doing dishes is my meditation. Also a few minutes of lovely music. Doesn’t have to be the whole piece.

  18. I am a therapist and I practice mindfulness and meditation in my personal life. It is an incredible practice and I think one of the best gifts that I as a parent can give my kids. Two things I would HIGHLY recommend is the book Wherever you go, There you are, by Jon Kabat-Zinn and the Calm app. Both are wonderful. I have read and reread that book many times and give it as gifts to people all the time. There is one exert in it that really hit home for me, it is the image of a surfing Buddha. The thought behind this is that the work we do is in learning to ride the waves, not in trying to control the ocean. I love that so much I actually found art with the image and have it hanging in my office. The Calm app is a great way to get your toes wet with guided meditations, they also allow you talk tailor it to your personal goals and lifestyle.
    I would also include walking labyrinths – this can be a really relaxing practice for people who have a hard time with the concept of “sitting” or “being still” while meditating. I have also starting reading about “forest bathing” a Japanese concept, but I do not know enough about it other than the healing practice of walking in trees definitely has always helped my mood and mind.

  19. I fell in love with yoga when I was expecting child #4 way back in 2001. I love Power Yoga and the the cable channel Oxygen had a program called “Inhale with Steve Ross” that is still my very favorite. Steve uses awesome music, is super personable, and the workout portion is phenomenal before you move into the meditation portion. Steve is seriously my favorite instructor, and I love how I feel after I’ve spent 45 minutes working out with him. The most depressing part is that there isn’t a way to buy his videos. But, I’ve recently found a few videos from his classes online and it’s been fun to get back into doing them :)

  20. I like the Honest Guys guided meditation on YouTube. There are dozens of them – all around 20 minutes – and free! I would love to Calm but am way too frugal (cheap!) to pay $70 a year! :)

  21. My Doctor suggested I try meditation to help me recover from a nervous breakdown last year (along with antidepressants, Xanax, exercise, and psychotherapy!). I really enjoy it and was surprised at how much it seems to help. I use the Calm app, and love it. My kids use it for the sleep stories to help them fall asleep at night.

    I think I would love yoga, because I love dancing and stretching, but every time I’ve tried it, I get costochondritis (inflammation of the cartilage in the rib cage). Weird, huh?

  22. I got a blog comment a few months ago suggesting I do a post about mindfulness meditation. I admittedly knew nothing about it at the time. I was so fascinated with what I read and really enjoyed writing about it. I now meditate regularly and use Headspace quite a bit. I’ve found just a few minutes of meditating a day really helps me to be more present throughout the day, find more beauty in some of the mundane moments of the day, and generally feel more confidence and less anxiety. (I’ve also had a lot less headaches – I started having a lot of headaches after having my second child; they have decreased in the last few months, but I’ve done a few things to try to tackle them, so can’t necessarily attribute that to the meditation.) All in all, I’m a big fan. Thanks for your post and this discussion!

  23. I started meditating as a survival mechanism after returning from a psychedelic retreat in the Netherlands this past November. After six days of quiet away from my family (and a life changing experience), the noisy quality of life back home was jarring. I quickly graduated from 10 min guided sessions a few times a day to 3/30 mins sessions on my own with meditative music (I use Mendel Kaelen playlists, or the paid version of the Breethe app). It calms me and allows my anxious brain to rest to the point that when my husband notices my nerves are jangled, he’ll gently suggest that I go meditate. Before psychedelics, I tried to meditate but couldn’t sit still or clear my head. After, it’s like a drink of fresh, clear water to sit and chill my brain by meditating. And mindfulness has me eating less and spending less time on the screens.

  24. I think that you’re missing the point. Mindfulness isn’t all yoga and meditating. It’s a way of being in the world that’s been around since Buddha, Jesus and many other prophets. You don’t have to meditate to be mindful. You don’t have to do yoga to be mindful. It’s simply being in the world apart from all the stimulus. It’s getting in touch with who we are on a basic level. It’s easy and within reach for all of us.

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