Meditation has been practiced for thousands of years in Eastern cultures. While its practice in Western cultures is much newer, meditation’s popularity is growing quickly as result of the cognitive and health benefits it offers. Meditation calms and relaxes not only the mind, but the body as well.

In a world that revolves around technology, the human and spiritual disconnect has become increasingly prevalent. People yearn for connections and relationships, but before they can connect with another, they must connect with themselves. Meditation provides the tools to make the discoveries necessary for this connection.

In addition to building relationships, there are many reasons that one may practice meditation. On a personal level, individuals may practice meditation to expand consciousness, or for spiritual exploration. On a professional level, meditation helps one become more mindful so that they may grow and find success.

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As the popularity of mindful practices continues to rise, here are the meditation trends to expect this year:

Meditation in the Workplace

Some of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs have been practicing meditation in their daily lives for many years. Media mogul Oprah Winfrey, LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, and Def Jam Recordings founder and businessman Russell Simmons are just a handful of highly successful people who meditate daily. The underlying reasons for their meditation are similar: to think clearly and to relieve stress.

Meditation has been shown to not only improve work habits but loyalty, communication, and happiness in the office. Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini has said, “Everyday I get up at 5:30 to do my practice because I know I’m headed into a chaotic world where I’m going to hear a lot of good and bad things, and I’m going to be challenged about my own worth. Unless I can bring myself to peaceful environment in a steady and mindful way, and be present in the moment– every opportunity I can, I can’t help the people around me either.”

Business leaders have brought meditation into the culture of the companies they run as well, encouraging their employees to practice meditation during the workday. LinkedIn, Salesforce, Google, Nike, Deutsche Bank, and Procter & Gamble are just a handful of the companies that offer relaxation and meditation spaces within the office.

Companies will also send their employees to workshops and corporate retreats that assist in teaching professionals how to expand their consciousness and become mindful when it comes to business practices. These retreats give them tools on how to deal with stress, how to relate to customers and make them happy, and how to clear their minds so that they may focus their energy on what is essential to grow.

We will continue to see more companies enable their employees to learn about and practice meditation this year.

Meditation Retreats for Individuals

In addition to corporate retreats, there are also programs available for individuals to attend. Meditation retreats provide an environment for learning and spiritual growth. Just like there are different forms of meditation, there are also different types of meditation retreat centers. Each meditation retreat center is founded and run on different sets of beliefs and practices. These centers provide accommodations, healthy meals, and activities designed to achieve certain goals. Most centers provide programs for either groups or individuals.

One type of meditation retreat is a Buddhist monastery, which may invite guests to partake in their student’s teachings for a few days. In this type of setting, you may have the freedom to spend time as you wish, participating in group activities, or venturing out on your own to conduct meditations and practices solely. A retreat like this would be considered an escape from daily life, to reset, if you will.

Another type of retreat would be one of spiritual awakening and learning. A program is created and followed with a specific intent in mind. This intent could be healing, chakra awakening, or to simply become more in tune with oneself.

Most meditation retreats have one thing in common: encouraging a path to discovery. Meditation can be practiced a few ways, but these programs are designed to delve deeper than a daily meditation, and are intended to be life changing.

Crestone Mountain Zen Center and Siddhayatan are just two examples of meditation retreat centers.

Guided Meditations

Another trend on the rise this year is guided meditation. Guided meditations are a great tool for those who may be new to meditation, or for those who wish to use meditation to reach a goal or overcome a problem. Sessions are created for a wide range of things, such as mindful eating, better sleep, professional success, healing, healthy living, and more.

There are a few avenues in finding a guided meditation. One option is to subscribe to a podcast. There are many available, such as The Daily Meditation Podcast and Meditation Oasis. In guided meditations, the guide softly speaks commands to calm, relax, and open the mind.

Another tool for guided meditation is Headspace. Headspace is a free app that can be downloaded onto a smartphone and used for ten minutes a day, with a specific intent in mind.

Yoga

Yoga is a practice that has already made huge inroads into Western culture and will continue to become more and more popular. Not only is yoga a great way to exercise physiologically, yoga is great for your brain. During a yoga practice, you become more aware of your breath, inhaling and exhaling intently. In this process the mind calms and it becomes a perfect time for meditation. The sequence of yoga poses, mindful breathing, and meditation, whatever the intent may be, is a trifecta of mind and body awareness.

Yoga meditation can be practiced individually in the home or office, or in a class setting. When new to yoga and meditation, classes can offer guidance. If a more private setting is desired, there are online classes available that can be practiced at home.

This year will bring more opportunities for people to enjoy and realize the benefits meditation offers. If you have not practiced meditation before, make this the year you discover the positive effects meditation can have on your mind, body, and life.

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