Meditation Reduces Anxiety And Depression
Meditation benefits people with or without acute medical illness or stress. People who meditate regularly have been shown to feel less anxiety and depression. They also report that they experience more enjoyment and appreciation of life and that their relationships with others are improved. Meditation produces a state of deep relaxation and a sense of balance or equanimity.
According to Michael J. Baime, "Meditation cultivates an emotional stability that allows the meditator to experience intense emotions fully while simultaneously maintaining perspective on them." Out of this experience of emotional stability, one may gain greater insight and understanding about one's thoughts, feelings, and actions. This insight in turn offers the possibility to feel more confident and in control of life. Meditation facilitates a greater sense of calmness, empathy, and acceptance of self and others.
Amount Of Benefit
Meditation has long been recommended as a treatment for high blood pressure; however, there is a debate over the amount of benefit that meditation offers. Although most studies show a reduction in blood pressure with meditation, medication is still more effective at lowering high blood pressure
. There are no reported side effects from meditation except for positive benefits.Studies also imply that meditation is helpful in reducing symptoms of anxiety and in treating anxiety-related disorders.
Stress Management Techniques
Furthermore, a study in 1998 of 37 psoriasis patients showed that those practicing mindfulness meditation had more rapid clearing of their skin condition
, with standard UV light treatment, than the control subjects. Another study found that meditation decreased the symptoms of fibromyalgia; over half of the patients reported significant improvement. Meditation was one of several stress management techniques used in a small study of HIV-positive men.
Dean Ornish's Program
Meditation may also be an effective treatment for coronary artery disease. A study of 21 patients practicing TM for eight months showed increases in their amount of exercise tolerance, amount of workload, and a delay in the onset of ST-segment depression. Meditation is also an important part of Dean Ornish's program, which has been proven to reverse coronary artery disease.
Meditation And Well-Being
Research also suggests that meditation is effective in the treatment of chemical dependency. Gelderloos and others reviewed 24 studies and reported that all of them showed that TM is helpful in programs to stop smoking and also in programs for drug and alcohol abuse. The study showed improvements in the T-cell counts of the men, as well as in several psychological measures of well-being.
Meditation techniques have been practiced for millennia. Originally, they were intended to develop spiritual understanding, awareness, and direct experience of ultimate reality. The many different religious traditions in the world have given rise to a rich variety of meditative practices. These include the contemplative practices of Christian religious orders, the Buddhist practice of sitting meditation, and the whirling movements of the Sufi dervishes.
Meditation In Medicine
As Western medical practitioners begin to understand the mind's role in health and disease, there has been more interest in the use of meditation in medicine. Meditative practices are increasingly offered in medical clinics and hospitals as a tool for improving health and quality of life.
It Relieve Stress And Pain
Meditation has been used as the primary therapy for treating certain diseases; as an additional therapy in a comprehensive treatment plan; and as a means of improving the quality of life of people with debilitating, chronic, or terminal illnesses. Although meditation is an important spiritual practice in many religious and spiritual traditions, it can be practiced by anyone regardless of their religious or cultural background to relieve stress and pain
Meditation can be used with other forms of medical treatment and is an important complementary therapy for both the treatment and prevention of many stress-related conditions. Regular meditation can reduce the number of symptoms experienced by patients with a wide range of illnesses and disorders. Based upon clinical evidence as well as theoretical understanding, meditation is considered to be one of the better therapies for panic disorder , generalized anxiety disorder, substance dependence and abuse, ulcers, colitis, chronic pain, psoriasis, and dysthymic disorder.
It is considered to be a valuable adjunctive therapy for moderate hypertension (high blood pressure), prevention of cardiac arrest (heart attack ), prevention of atherosclerosis (hardening of arteries), arthritis (including fibromyalgia), cancer , insomnia, migraine, and prevention of stroke. Meditation may also be a valuable complementary therapy for allergies and asthma because of the role stress plays in these conditions.
Meditative practices have been reported to improve function or reduce symptoms in patients with some neurological disorders as well. These include people with Parkinson's disease , people who experience fatigue with multiple sclerosis , and people with epilepsy who are resistant to standard treatment.
The Relaxation Response
The relaxation response involves a similar form of mental focusing. Dr. Herbert Benson, one of the first Western doctors to conduct research on the effects of meditation, developed this approach after observing the profound health benefits of a state of bodily calm he calls "the relaxation response." In order to elicit this response in the body, he teaches patients to focus upon the repetition of a word, sound, prayer, phrase, or movement activity (including swimming, jogging, yoga, and even knitting) for 10-20 minutes at a time, twice a day.
Patients are also taught not to pay attention to distracting thoughts and to return their focus to the original repetition. The choice of the focused repetition is up to the individual. Instead of Sanskrit terms, the meditator can choose what is personally meaningful, such as a phrase from a Christian or Jewish prayer.
Teachers of meditation advise people to return to their normal activities gently and gradually following their meditation practice, rather than making abrupt or hurried transitions. As has been previously mentioned, meditation is the opposite of result-oriented treatments.
Persons who practice meditation on a regular basis, however, usually experience the specific benefits of lowered blood pressure, more restful sleep, and relief from such physical effects of stress as ulcers, headaches, chronic muscle pain, and skin rashes. Therapeutic visualization has been shown to extend the survival time and quality of life of terminally ill patients.
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