The World Health Organisation predicts that by 2020, stress and unhappiness will be the leading causes of physical and mental disabilities globally. With the fast-paced rat race of the digital world ever increasing, it comes as no surprise that we're more stressed than ever before.
So is meditation the answer to our modern woes? One man - author, practitioner and operator at Auckland's Sri Chinmoy centre,Jogyata Dallas - believes so, and the thousands of people he offers free meditation classes to each year would agree.
Author and workshop organiser Jogyata Dallas.
'Meditation is certainly becoming increasingly popular,” he explains, 'in part because of the growing clutter and stress of our outer lives, but also because of a quiet incoming shift of consciousness in humanity as a whole.”
Jogyata says his late meditation teacher Sri Chinmoy asked his students to offer free courses in meditation in the belief that inner peace is everyone's birthright and that meditation is a very powerful life skill that keeps balance and clarity in our lives.
'We teach about 1000 people a year how to meditate,” he adds.
'People love these courses, but the great challenge they all have is to create a regular daily practice discipline - we always feel ‘too busy, too tired' or have ‘too many important things to do today', and our practice quickly disappears.”
One of those he has made a difference to is Tauranga resident Shelley Palmer. She first attended a class six years ago in Rotorua after dealing with severe health problems. 'My prognosis wasn't good,” she says.
'I found that meditation help me get through the trials I was going through at that time with my health. I was very accepting of what was happening and it helped me recover so much quicker.”
She's since continued the practice at home, and finds herself more centered and focused.
'I found a great sense of peace,” she adds. 'I think as you practice meditation you realise how you approach life. For me personally, I have recaptured my laughter and it's brought forward enthusiasm for me.”
While everyone's reasons for attending vary, Shelley agrees stress can be a huge driving factor and it's inspiring to see the change in people after a few mediation sessions.
She adds: 'At that first class, two people there were under a lot of work stress at the time and at the end of the first day I remember one of the gentlemen saying he had the best night sleep he'd ever had.
'He leant how to let go of his work situation and it helped him re-prioritise. To see him turn around after a two-day course was fabulous.”
Happiness is the theme of a free introductory workshop in Mount Maunganui on August 1, which is part of a North Island ‘Meditation Month' initiative to encourage a more peaceful world.
The workshop will be held in the Arataki Community Centre on Zambuck Way, from 9.30am-3pm on Saturday, August 1. Admission is free but registrations or inquiries can be made by texting: 022 188 7432.