By: Marlene Affeld ~
A host of medical research studies indicate that meditation (mental silence) is an excellent way to reduce the stress in our lives without the negative side effects of medication. For persons struggling to cope with heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer, binge eating, insomnia, fatigue, fibromyalgia or other sources of chronic pain, meditation, combined with yoga, is a way to proactively reduce the stress and relieve the pain that accompanies these conditions.
The Simms/Mann-UCLA Center for Integrative Oncology describes meditation noting, “Meditation is a mind and body practice that utilizes concentration, reflection and mental flexibility to relax the body and calm the mind. It requires that we clear out our muddled thoughts and allow our minds a moment of complete tranquility. Practicing daily meditation can have a variety of positive effects on your mental health and improve your physical, emotional and spiritual wellbeing.”
Saint Mary’s Health of Evansville, Indiana provides a helpful compendium of information answering questions about meditation stating, “Meditation is a safe and simple way to balance a person’s physical, emotional, and mental states. It is easily learned and has been used as an aid in treating stress and pain management. It has also been employed as part of an overall treatment for other conditions, including hypertension and heart disease.”
- What is Meditation?
- Concentrative Meditation
- Mindfulness Meditation
- How Meditation Works
- Conditions Benefited by Meditation
- Meditation: Who’s Doing It?
- Psychological Benefits
- Spiritual Benefits
- Walking Meditation
- Transcendental Meditation
- Simple Meditation Exercise
Hans Selye, a pioneering Canadian stress researcher, describes two types of stress-negative stress and positive stress. The difference between the two depends upon whether or not the individual feels in control of the stress. By allowing one to become more aware of one’s reactions to stress, meditation can assist in providing the individual with an increased internal sense of control.
Studies have also shown that meditation (in particular research on Transcendental Meditation [TM], a popular form of meditation practiced in the West for the past thirty years), can bring about a healthy state of relaxation by causing a generalized reduction in multiple physiological and biochemical markers, such as decreased heart rate, decreased respiration rate, decreased plasma cortisol (a major stress hormone), decreased pulse rate, and increased EEG (electroencephalogram) alpha, a brain wave associated with relaxation.”
A diverse array of research studies indicate that a regular meditation practice offers an amazing amount of health benefits including strengthening the immune system, managing chronic pain, lowering blood pressure, and reducing both emotional and physical stress and fatigue.
Practitioners of meditation and yoga report that meditating for just 20 minutes provides more psychological rest than a full night’s sleep. Many people that meditate on a regular basis report an increased sense of wellbeing, increased energy and heightened creativity.
Other benefits include the ability to see the good in the situations around you, a sense of peace, spontaneous joy and a deep abiding sense of gratitude. Experts suggest that practicing meditation daily allows us to weave silence and stillness into our body and mind to create a fulfilled life.
NaturalNews.com reports that meditation can reverse aging in our brains, stating, “Studies of meditation have shown that its regular practice that helps individuals cope with issues such as anxiety, stress, chronic pain and high blood pressure. In addition, more recent studies facilitated by brain scan technology have found that regular meditation practice helps prevent or delay age-related cognitive decline including memory loss. In fact, it appears that regular meditation practice can change the brain in a variety of profound and healthful ways.”
BrighterBrains.org sums up the benefits of meditation, stating, “Anxiety, depression, high blood pressure, chronic pain, substance abuse, sleep disorders, attention deficit disorder, and even cardiovascular disease have all been shown to be positively affected by mindfulness meditation. While the potential to relieve various physical and psychological ailments is certainly significant, the real value of meditation is in its potential to optimize and improve our lives. Not just to alleviate problems and bring us back to normal, but to make us better than normal.”
For the uninitiated, the concept and practice of meditation can be quite confusing. FreeMeditationInfo.com provides a complete listing of Zen, Tibetan, Christian, Hindu and non-sectarian meditation centers and meditation teachers located in the State of Indiana and throughout the Midwest. One of the best things about practicing meditation is that it doesn’t conflict with our spiritual practice, no matter the path we choose to follow. With an open heart and mind, meditation can enhance and deepen our existing spiritual beliefs, whatever form that may be.
Meditation, combined with yoga, may just be your tools to better pain management, improved sleep and less stress. Tree House Yoga of Indianapolis, Indiana notes, “Yoga is a coming home; a return to the one you have neglected and left behind. The yoga practice is about reclaiming parts of yourself that you have left behind.”
Where does your mind go when it seeks a moment of complete tranquility? Please share your thoughts and comments.