One of the most valuable tools that we all have at our disposal is perspective. But this vision must be aligned to support our efforts instead of sabotaging them. We’ve all heard variations of the maxim – “The obtaining of something of value requires some effort.” That’s great as far as it goes. But there is more to the equation: good values + hard work = a rewarding life.
Sometimes one must spend considerable effort on the front only a delayed reward as a result collection. A few of the most common examples in the discussion of natural health to do with dietary changes and exercise. If you are the conscious choice to prepare more healthy meals at home instead of eating out, it will certainly require some energy to make that shift. However, the benefits you’ll likely reap in terms of overall energy and well being of the added cooking time seems like a bargain. The same is true for the exercise. No one would argue that it is easy to wake up earlier in the morning to go for a walk or stop by the gym after a long day at work. But the improvements in your body image, mental / physical health and stamina are usually enough to get you on the right path. The key is to understand how the equation works and that such an investment in general for some time to bear fruit will realize. This is a matter of perspective.
Recent literature by scientists from four different countries – India, Italy, Japan and the United States – agreed that “Meditation practice in the medical setting appears to be an excellent adjunct therapy for many diseases and is an essential and primary means of maintaining holistic health to and wellness. ” Researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison going to say that: “Instead of a fringe or marginal concept, meditation is now widely known and accepted as a positive mind and body practice by the general public and the scientific community.” My own research on the most recent studies on meditation support this view. (1,2)
Meditation Supports cognitive function – An intriguing eight weeks study of 15 patients with “memory problems, ranging in age from 52 to 77 years” was recently completed. The study evaluated the effects of meditation on blood flow to the brains and cognitive performance. The particular form of meditation in this study is known as Kirtan Kriya (KK), “a 12-minute practice of Kundalini Yoga tradition” that “repetitive finger movements” or mudras and chanting a mantra (Saa Taa Naa MAA) involved . Cognitive tests and Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography (SPECT) were applied prior to the training and meditative practice, and again at the completion of the 8-week intervention. Some findings were evidenced in involved in KK compared with a control group “was instructed to listen to Mozart violin concertos each day for about 12 minutes.” (3,4,5)
- Increased blood flow was discovered in the main areas of the brains that are affected in cases of dementia – the frontal lobe and right superior parietal lobe.
- An improvement in cognitive function was determined on the basis of a neuropsychological evaluation that verbal fluency and cognitive tests that assessed attention and logical memory test.
- The participants in the intervention experienced meditation practice as “fun and useful and because of their cognitive functions to improve.”
The principal author of the study, Dr. Andrew Newberg of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, noted that, “It would be very useful to a cost-effective, non-pharmacological approaches to slowing memory loss that the effect could enhance medication without fear of side effects or drug interactions. ” Dr. Newberg added that, “Although further research into the impact of Kirtan Kriya is required, the pilot study shows that meditation can be a very important tool in improving cognition in people with amnesia.”
Supports Meditation Mental Health – High quality health care requires optimal performance by the doctors and staff providing care. Doctors and nurses who are chronically anxious or “stressed” it is impossible to perform to their best ability. The introduction of meditation in a medical practice, a portion of the solution to this problem occurs. A recent study involved 38 GPs who participated in a “Teaching Aptitude Course”. Half the group also participated in mindfulness meditation training and practice. The rest of the doctors do not take part in the mind-body practice and use was made of a comparison group. Three psychological tests, The Perceived Stress Scale (PSS), The Strain Questionnaire and the State-Trait Anxiety questionnaire were administered to all of the doctors at the beginning and completion of education course. “A comparative statistical analysis” showed that participants who practiced mindfulness meditation significantly reduced the anxiety and stress occurs compared with controls. (6)
Meditation improves Pain Management – Regular meditation can be insensitive to pain. That says a new study in the February edition of the journal Emotion. Meditation seems to achieve this is by “thickening the brains,” or, more specifically, parts of the brains known as the anterior cingulate cortex, bilateral parahippocampal gyrus and anterior insula. This provision was discovered in the examination of the brains MRI (magnetic resonance images) of 17 meditators and 18 controls who do not meditate. In general, the meditation group shown “lower sensitivity to pain” and more robust tissue “affective pain-related areas of the brains.” The more experienced meditators had even “thicker in the anterior cingulate gray matter” and a number of other important areas of the brains. The conclusion of the research suggests that meditation can actually prolonged the structure of the brains to change and enhance gray matter in a manner that allows for the pain less obvious. Another study published in the January issue of the journal Pain suggests that the slow, rhythmic breathing involved in practices such as Zen meditation can effectively reduce feelings of “pain intensity and unpleasantness” in people with chronic pain conditions like fibromyalgia and generally healthy populations. (7,8,9)
Meditation improves the immune system and lowers stress hormonesSource: PNAS October 23, 2007 vol. 104 Nr. 43 17152-17156 (link)
Mrs. Healthy Fellow and I recently started meditating every day. I think we like many other couples in our days that tend to be quite hectic and can be very stressful. However, our perspective on the meditative process is that the time we spend will result in higher productivity during the day. We generally reserved for 15-20 minutes in the morning and at night a non-verbal/silent form of mantra meditation practice. What we discovered to date is that we seem to be less reactive to the various stressors that we encounter during the day. This not only promotes a more peaceful state of mind, but it also helps us to conserve energy, that we would normally spend anxious or stress-induced states.
I want a few tips that have helped us in establishing a positive meditative routine to offer. First we try the twice daily meditations as a welcome break instead of a chore or responsibility. During this period, we turn our phones and allow ourselves to temporarily forget the thoughts that normally clutter the mind. This is essentially a mental or psychological break. Choosing an appropriate mantra was also a problem
that we needed to address. The technique that we decided was to create or select a phrase or word and it is to determine for ourselves. You can write any word or words of your choice, and assign him / them your own personal meaning. Specific mantras can be found in books on meditation or even online. However, the meaning you give to a mantra is yours.
Here is a simple example of a mantra that can be used during the practice of Transcendental Meditation.
- Enga – Does my desire to become more conscious, loving and peaceful.
- Enga – Does my desire to think more clearly and make better decisions in my life.
- Enga – Does my belief that my body and mind can heal and stay well.
Meditation is a traditional practice that has a long history in most religions of the world, but requires no specific spiritual beliefs at all. Indeed, it need not be intimidating. It’s as simple as finding a relatively quiet place to sit, tuning of your everyday thoughts and just allowing yourself some much needed silence. You can choose to passively observing your breath, emote a song or stop repeating a mantra. Some people even meditate, while the nature or during their daily walk. Just know that if you are genuinely interested in integration of meditation into your life, there is certainly some form that can meet your needs.