Once considered a practice closely related to religion and suitable only for the old, meditation is being taken up by more and more young Vietnamese as a means of stress relief and a gateway to a more positive outlook on life.
‘Meditation’ is derived from a Latin word meaning “to think, contemplate, devise, ponder,” the practice of which involves training the mind to be conscious of its own content and of the surrounding environment.
According to the director of one meditation training center in Ho Chi Minh City, it is also the art of living proactively and healthily.
Thuy Hoa, a 25-year-old office worker in Ho Chi Minh City, said she and her co-workers had adopted the habit of practicing meditation after work as a stress relief.
“We stay at the company at the end of each day to do breathing exercises together to rid ourselves of work-related stress before heading home,” Hoa said.
Initially small, her group of meditating peers has since expanded to include other co-workers in the company, most of whom are youths also interested in the art of mindfulness, she said.
A recent workshop on ‘Meditation for Undergraduates’ held at the University of Social Sciences and Humanities (USSH) in Ho Chi Minh City attracted hundreds of sign-ups shortly after it opened for registration.
The trend reflects the growing awareness of young Vietnamese of the importance of taking care of their mental health.
“When it comes to yoga or meditation, it’s not about becoming a professional,” said Nguyen Thi Xuan Thao, a USSH undergraduate. “Many who practice only seek spiritual relaxation, and can perform very basic moves.”
“Contrary to the formerly popular belief that meditation is for the old, more and more young people are now beginning to understand that meditation is based on scientific evidence, the benefits of which are widely accepted around the world,” said psychologist Vo Thi Minh Hue.
As life becomes more stressful, Hue explained, both the old and the young are vulnerable to the harmful effects of stress and are now actively seeking a kind of therapy to regain emotional and spiritual balance.
Meditation requires little if not no money to practice, and can be taken up by everyone regardless of age or physical fitness, making it accessible to a large portion of the population, she added.
A director of one meditation center said the art also helped young people think less, but more positively.
Practitioners do not necessarily have to sit in one place for hours to yield results, as they can train to be mindful while doing everyday work, at home or in the office, the director added.