Apr 26, 2022 - Health

Axios Finish Line: What readers taught us about meditation

Illustration of a brain wearing a sleep mask

Illustration: Lindsey Bailey/Axios

After we wrote about how we're trying transcendental meditation, more than a thousand readers wrote in with their own stories and advice about mindfulness.

Why it matters: Our Axios Finish Line readership is the most engaged audience we have seen in our journalism careers. Below you'll find distilled lessons — and buckets of benefits — from our readers for all kinds of meditative practice.

Here's what our audience taught us about meditation:

  1. There's no right way to do it. We're trying transcendental meditation, but hundreds of you wrote in about other ways you've practiced mindfulness — and seen remarkable results. You suggested breathing exercises, exploring Buddhism, using guided meditation apps like "Calm" and "Headspace," and more.
  2. Consistency is key. You told us that life improvements you saw from meditation came from disciplined and consistent practice. Mary Jackson Lee of Wheaton, Illinois, who has meditated daily for the past three years, says she sleeps better, drinks less coffee and uses her iPhone less.
  3. But don't get discouraged. You can always pick a good habit back up. Josh Zylstra from Oak Park, Illinois, first tried meditation in his 20s but didn't continue. He recently dove back in, in his 40s, and stuck with it. His anxiety levels have decreased dramatically as a result, he told us.
  4. Clear your mind. Reader Bill Dunn from Kenai, Alaska, put it simply: "The biggest benefits showed up in mental concentration, better sleep and steadier calm in the face of difficulty. Many talented people suffer 'hurricanes' in their heads. Meditation helps let the talent flow."
  5. Find mental peace. "George Floyd’s murder and two years of isolation working from home because of the pandemic pushed my emotional resources to their limit," wrote one reader from Washington, D.C. who asked to remain anonymous. "But like most African American men of my generation I believed that seeking help, particularly help coping with mental or emotional stress, was a sign of weakness." Since taking up mediation in December 2021: "I feel a lot more centered, calm and focused, and less emotional going through the biggest set of simultaneous changes in my life."
  6. Find physical well-being. Joyce Scott of Houston, Texas, said she found relief from frequent migraines. Anne Henderson of Washington, D.C. rattled off a slew of benefits, including: "My desk stayed organized. I wasn't mad at my mother anymore. I felt more clearheaded. I stopped smoking and lost weight."
  7. Goodness radiates. It's not just you who benefits. "I am truly happy and calm, which has a direct effect on my family. They no longer worry about whether I’ll hurt myself, fly into a rage, or lock myself away in my room," Katie Schaefer-Murray from Valparaiso, Indiana, wrote.

The bottom line: When you do anything to better your physical and mental health, the positive effects echo.

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