Meditation is gaining ground among young people


Youth is a period during which the desire for freedom and the taking of risks take precedence. Health is not a priori a priority for young French people, if we are to believe the results of the polls . However, the severe disruptions caused by the Covid-19 crisis in their studies, their career choices and their work resulted in a deterioration in their mental well-being.

The level of psychological stress is felt most strongly in young adults, aged 18 to 25 years. An Ipsos study finds that three quarters of them felt sadness or anxiety and half felt isolated in the context of the pandemic.

Gender plays an important role in the manifestation of psychological disorders in young adults, since women suffer more than men from social isolation, which causes a decline in their academic performance.

New Practices

With the Covid-19 health crisis, young people were confronted with a virus which, at the beginning, did not seem to reach them, but which, today, affects them directly, through the social and economic disorganizations caused by the measures sanitary facilities. Now, for 92% of young people, it is important to talk about mental health and 80% of them say that it will even be the most decisive element in 2030.

The question which arises today, and which constitutes the stake of the research of tomorrow, is to know how to face the psychological disorders generated by the health crisis, and their impact on the long term. What then of meditation, a tool for personal development and anxiety management that is now highly publicized through online applications?

Young people who in the past were embarrassed to reveal that they were meditating now say so without fear. 47% of 18-34 year olds have already practiced meditation to escape the anxiety-provoking climate caused by the health crisis, against 32% of those over 55

Research initiated in 2020 with Carole Daniel , professor at Skema Business School, on a sample of young professionals (average age 35), reveals the benefits of the practice of mindfulness meditation, more particularly of the program created by John Zabat Zinn Mindfulness Stress Reduction or MBSR.

This program includes 8 weekly sessions of two and a half hours, to which is added a day in silence. In addition, participants are invited to practice daily at home (6 days a week, between 20 and 45 minutes, with the help of audio files).

The current study reveals interesting differences between the two groups of practitioners (306 people who have followed an MBSR program) and that of non-practitioners (196 people who have not followed the MBSR program).

The results show the interest of following an MBSR program to fight addictions, since young practitioners obtain lower addiction scores than those of non-practitioners (average score of 2.51 out of 5 for practitioners against 3.50 out of 5). 5 for non-practitioners concerning the smartphone addiction scale; and average score of 2.68 out of 5 against 3.12 out of 5 for the work addiction scale).

Digital tools
Gone are the days of looking for a meditation center to follow a long-term meditation program. Meditation via your smartphone has been integrated into the practices of the new generation, a sign of a need to refocus without disconnecting.

The number of new registrants for the daily sessions followed on the star meditation application, Petit Bambou , has tripled, from 5,000 to 15,000 new users per day. Other meditation practices, integrated into the Headspace Mini app, Snapchat’s secure space, have been designed to support the mental health and well-being of young Snapchatters.

For example, “Choose Kindness” is a mini-meditation focused on practicing kindness that can change the way we show ourselves in the world and how we treat others. Or, “Take on the School Year” is a mini-meditation focusing on feelings of worry, anxiety and isolation that young people may have experienced at school. Note that in the first month of operation, over 5 million Snapchat participants used Headspace Mini, indicating that mental health tools and resources are well received by this young audience.

In search of meaning, in their daily life as in their way of working, young people favor personal construction and the search for a better balance between professional and private life. Their interest in meditation shows that it is not an epiphenomenon in response to the health crisis, but above all a way of living on a daily basis and the art of cultivating body-mind unity.

Meditation marks a fundamental trend which is bringing about a revolution within society itself. This refocusing on oneself is an effect of secularization which corresponds to a new age and to an esoteric vision of the world, as clarified by the professor of history of philosophy Wouter Hanegraaf.

Author Bio: Elodie Gentina is Associate professor, marketing at IÉSEG School of Management