Though they may sound old-fashioned or understimulating, yoga meditation techniques have been honing humanity's mental processes for thousands of years. In a recent article in New York Magazine, psychological and neurological experts argued that, these days, understimulation is exactly what our overheated brains need.
The history of yoga meditation begins more than five millennia ago, in the Asian interior, where holistic notions about mental and physical healing were just being formed.
According to researchers at the University of Florida, the origins of meditation may pre-date even the earliest Indian and East Asian records of the practice. Scientists at the university speculate that primitive man may have discovered the purifying sensation of rumination while staring in the flames of cookfires.
Over the centuries, monks, philosophers and yoga practitioners honed the process of meditation, adding elements to the activity that still exist today. The Yoga Journal recently defined the contemporary form of meditation as a sort of inner exploration crossed with moral and spiritual contemplation.
Such mental depth is much needed in today's hectic workaday world. Science writer Winifred Gallagher told New York Magazine that meditation can help people focus, particularly in situations in which the background noise of one's environment takes up the majority of one's attention.
Gallagher, the author of the book Rapt, a treatise on attention, told the periodical that neuroscientists are fascinated with yoga meditation, which seems to improve everything from the speed of one's thoughts to the breadth of one's visual field.
Gallagher explained that, with the availability of meditation classes almost everywhere, there is little excuse for our distractibility.
"Once you understand how attention works and how you can make the most productive use of it, if you continue to just jump in the air every time your phone rings or pounce on those buttons every time you get an instant message, that’s not the machine’s fault. That’s your fault," she concluded.