Meditation and Mindfulness
Meditation is a mind and body practice that has a long history of use for increasing calmness and physical relaxation, improving psychological balance, coping with illness, and enhancing overall health and well-being. Mind and body practices focus on the interactions among the brain, mind, body, and behavior.
There are many types of meditation, but most have four elements in common: a quiet location with as few distractions as possible; a specific, comfortable posture (sitting, lying down, walking, or in other positions); a focus of attention (a specially chosen word or set of words, an object, or the sensations of the breath); and an open attitude (letting distractions come and go naturally without judging them).
Meditation can take a variety of forms: mantra meditation, relaxation response, mindfulness meditation, Transcendental Meditation, and Zen Buddhist meditation, among others. Yoga and Tai chi also incorporate meditative components. Meditation practices are often rooted in spiritual practices, but many people practice meditation outside of a religious context.
Meditation has been used for centuries to increase calmness and physical relaxation, improve psychological balance, cope with illness, and enhance overall health and well-being. The literature on meditation suggests that it is a very powerful tool for learning control of attention, regulating emotion, and increasing self-awareness or cultivation of the state called mindfulness. These insights are old. But what is new in the last 15 years or so is scientific data. This data shows that during meditation there are a number of measurable biological changes—for example, in the autonomic nervous system—and the recognition that meditation has the potential to impact on mental and physical health.
Courtesy of: NCCIH
Benefits of Mindfulness Meditation
- Reduces stress and anxiety
- Decreases depression, exhaustion and irritability
- Reduces pain
- Improves mood and quality of life (in chronic pain conditions)
- Improves the immune system
- Increases Awareness
- Increases Compassion
- Reduces Burnout
- Improves emotional intelligence
- Improves working memory, creativity, attention span and reaction speeds
- Enhances mental and physical stamina and resilience
- Improves self-awareness, empathy, self-control and attention
- Regular meditators are more non-reactive and less judgmental
- Mindfulness is at least as good as drugs or counselling for the treatment of clinical-level depression
- Reduces addictive and self-destructive behavior
- Enhances brain function
- Regular meditators are admitted to hospital far less often for cancer, heart disease and numerous infectious diseases
- May reduce effects of aging
- Meditation and mindfulness improve control of blood sugar in type II diabetes
- Meditation improves heart and circulatory health by reducing blood pressure and lowering the risk of hypertension.
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