Is there a better way to eliminate stress without meditation and mindfulness?

As the world’s most optimistic skeptic, I am cautious about letting new-age concepts enter my life.

And “meditation” and “mindfulness” are core components of the new age.

Plus, any time I looked into mediation, there were charlatans looking to register me to their “bootcamps” and “retreats” and “summits” and other money-sucking schemes. This is a BIG turn-off for me.

And just minutes ago, I stumbled upon this video by author Daniel Goleman. He claims that those who meditate regularly have superior brain waves compared to us mortals:

But:

There is a MASSIVE problem with this lofty claim…

According to those who read EEGs for a living, Gamma activity is almost impossible to see in a scalp reading.

Oops!

I remain skeptical when lots of people get herded into the latest and greatest “thing.” And meditation and mindfulness are being pushed on us big time.

What are the benefits of meditation?

Here is what the “experts” claim are the many benefits of meditation and mindfulness:

Meditation leads to a heightened sense of concentration. We become more skilled at focusing on tasks we want to do (and better at ignoring distractions).

Meditation allows a person to take an observational and insightful look at the truth of their thoughts. Consistent meditation allows us to “let go” of destructive patterns of behavior or belief.

Meditation helps to build our confidence.

Meditation can improve our mood.

Meditation allows us to live in the present moment and live our life to the fullest.

Meditation can improve relationships. This is primarily because meditation lowers stress levels experienced by practitioners. According to Tatiana Mirza, the higher levels of stress a person experiences, the less successful their relationships will be. Stress can affect all kinds of relationships (platonic and romantic), however, through meditation, we are able to learn how to handle stress correctly.

Meditation allows us to bridge the gap between our thoughts and feelings. Some studies have argued that meditation is a kind of yoga for our brains. Most people either follow their thoughts or their feelings, without combining the two effectively. Through meditation, we are able to combine our logical and emotional capacities. This helps us make decisions which positively change our lives. Meditation allows for a more calculated approach to some relationships whilst still being empathetic and making a concerted effort to understand situations from another person’s point of view.

Meditation allows us to have balance in our lives. We begin interacting with people and not letting our emotions take charge. Thus, we do not overreact, nor come off as cold, and unfeeling either. Deadlines, nasty people, bills, conflict and other tensions will continue to exist, and meditation is not about forgetting about these problems. Instead, meditation equips us to take on these stresses effectively and successfully (all the while allowing us to live in the moment and enjoy life).

Through the breathing practice, the body’s level of adrenaline decreases. This calm breathing decreases autonomic arousal, improves cognitive function, and decreases wear and tear on the heart and lungs.

When one lives a lifetime of anxiety and irrational belief, the effects are often on the body, either through direct ways (like coping with alcohol, nicotine, food) or in indirect ways (through somatic reactions like headaches, skin rashes, developing tumors – even heart disease).

Meditation can improve our physical health. When we decrease autonomic arousal, the secondary effects are correlated to diseases, including:

  • Heart attack
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Asthma
  • Skin disorders
  • Rashes
  • Cancer and tumor growth
  • Diabetes, autoimmune disorders
  • Common colds and flu
  • Nerve function
  • Gastric disorders
  • Ulcers
  • Disorders of the genitourinary tract
  • Gynecological disorders including fibroid cysts

Holy wow! That meditation and mindfulness stuff seems quite awesome.

With so many people doing a daily practice of meditation, surely all the benefits are paying off, right?

This is sarcasm on my end… because we all know the exact OPPOSITE is happening:

We are sicker than ever.

We are more stressed than ever.

We are more distracted than ever – procrastination levels are at all-time highs.

Diseases are breaking records year over year.

And more and more people are becoming nialistic – ready to give up on life.

That fact is if meditation and mindfulness worked as promised, we would be healthier, less stressed and less sick.

What am I missing here?