Meditation Science Says Yes

The Scientific Studies Support the Knowledge of the Ages

By Elizabeth Sukys-Rice, MSW

IMG_1249Meditation, A Brief Explanation 

The practice of meditation goes back thousands of years. Meditation is the practice of a mind-body connection, being present and aware of what’s going on within. Meditation is the act of going within oneself, quieting the mind, listening to the breath and pausing for a moment. There’re many types of meditation yet basic elements exist in all forms. First finding the right location, a focus of attention and an open attitude.

Location-A place where you won’t be bothered or disturbed, a place that has dim light.

Keep a Straight Spine-Get comfortable, yet not so comfortable that you are going to sleep.  It is not necessary to twist in a pretzel just make sure you’re in a comfortable, alert position.  For example, in a chair with a straight back, against the wall or using a kneeing chair.

Meditation Preparation- Find meditation music that is pleasing to you, something with binaural frequencies. Binaural frequencies help reduce the chatter in the mind and allow the body to come into a deep state of relaxation.  Close your eyes and let your body relax into the sounds and comfort.

Focus on Your Breath – Take a deep inhalation into the nose and hold for a few seconds, then release with a deep exhalation.  Keeping your mind focused on the breath, maybe imagine that the inhalation is a vacuum and with the drawing up the air from ones body it brings out the tension or stress from the day and with the exhalation the body releases those stressors and lets the body become lighter and free.  Concentrate on the rise and fall of the chest or the feeling of the air entering the nostrils and the warm air coming out.

Observe Without Judgement – It is normal for our minds to wander when in a mediation practice, when it does just release the thought and go back to focusing on the breath. Our minds might also go in a direction of judging how we feel or how well be are able to focus on our breath, starting to judge our actions, thoughts or feelings.  Just stop the thought with a gentle action and go back to concentrating on the breath.

What Science Says

Meditation stimulates a region in the brain that can reframe the way our brain interprets our sensory experiences.  Research studies have shown meditation can make a significant reduction in pain, along with a number of challenging health conditions. Below is a list of just a few.

  • Pain
  • Gastrointestinal Conditions –
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Anxiety, Depression and Insomnia

Your Brain on Meditation

  • Increased Connectivity within Attentional Networks
  • Maintaining Attention & Disengaging from Distraction
  • Meditation can actually change your brain.

Fact: Brain scans of people who took an eight-week course in meditation showed that the part of the brain responsible for fear and stress contracted, while the pre-frontal cortex, the part that controls higher thinking skills, became thicker.

Types of Meditation

Mindful – The practice of focusing on the sensations around you or the room or within the body.  An example is referred to as a Body Scan meditation where one begins from the toes focusing on each area of the body going up all the way to the crown of the head just experiencing the sensations that come as they the focus.

Mantra – The practice of repeating the same word, thought or phrase over and over in the mind. For example with the inhalation one might focus on a word that resinates with them, ‘peace’, and with the exhalation another word for example, ’forgiveness’, the meditation is on a thought, or word or phrase throughout the whole mediation.

Focused Attention – This practice involves focusing on one particular sensation for sound like a metronome for the sound of one’s breath or even a walking meditation where one focuses on the simple movement of 1 foot in front of the other.

Open Monitoring – this meditation practice is about being receptive to all the thoughts and sensations that one experiences, without judgment just allowing the thought to happen coming and going freely.

The truth of the matter is, there is so much benefit to meditation, but you have to begin… it starts with your first step. Try five minutes a day for starters and enjoy the benefits.

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