Mindfulness and meditation have swept across the western world, but despite the growing number of people turning to these practices to decompress and improve their mood, men remain less likely to try these techniques than women. According to a 2019 study, 16 percent of women have tried meditation but only 12 percent of men have done the same. (Unfortunately, there were no statistics on gender-nonconforming individuals.)
So, what’s up with this trend? Some researchers believe the disparity stems from different emotional expectations across genders. Generally, it has been less culturally acceptable for men to show vulnerability and ask for help navigating their emotions. Men may be more likely to bottle up their feelings while women tend to dwell on their anger, sadness, or stress. These are generalities of course, and there are plenty of people who defy these stereotypes, but we shouldn’t dismiss the role culture and societal expectations could play in keeping men from benefiting from meditation and mindfulness.
If you identify as a man and have trepidations about meditation and mindfulness—or know someone who does—below are three ways to dip your toes into the water.
- Try something simple: A long sitting meditation can be intimidating, especially if you already have misgivings. Try simple, quick, mindful and meditation exercises first.
- Find a mentor or group: If you’re struggling to get into meditation but want to see the benefits, find a mentor or join a men’s meditation group. This is a great way to find like-minded folks who may have faced similar concerns about starting their own practice. Be Meditation has a class for those who identify as male on Tuesdays at 5 pm Pacific Time. Sign up here.
- Get moving: Movement is a great way to root yourself in your body and increase your awareness. Go for a walk around your neighborhood and enjoy the sights or take a break from answering emails for a good stretch. These simple acts will increase your mindfulness and awareness of the present moment.
Meditation and mindfulness reduce stress, lower blood pressure, improve your mood, and much more. There’s no reason to miss out on the benefits of meditation practices. Try these tips, sign up for a class, and tell us how you started or re-started your meditation practice.