Meditation is a tradition that goes back thousands of years. Countries like India, China and Japan lay claim to its origin so we can’t say for sure where it first began; however, most experts agree that its original purpose was a desire to understand the conscious mind. Today meditation is used across the world as both a spiritual and physical tool.
Meditation is influenced by both the Buddhist and Hindu philosophy, but there are other religions that have elements of meditation. Those who practice meditation for spiritual benefits believe that it opens the mind to divine influence and can serve as a form of prayer. In this case the purpose of meditation is to attain an increased understanding of spiritual truths.
Meditation can involve techniques of physical and mental relaxation. Sitting or lying in a relaxed position and including deep breathing are a central part of this type of meditating. For people who focus on this form of meditation, eliminating the worries of daily life is key. As a result of physical meditation, people feel better equipped to take on personal problems. As well, they tend to feel more confident and focused.
In North America anxiety, addiction, stress and cognitive problems have traditionally been treated with drug therapies. Studies now show that meditation is linked to improvement in these psychological areas. There is also research that suggests meditating can reduce blood pressure and stress hormone levels.
According to neuroscientist at Yale, meditation changes the cells and neurons in our brain. They say that cells and neurons in the brain are always making new connections and disrupting old ones based on response to different stimuli.
Research conducted at Massachusetts General Hospital indicates that 60 to 90 percent of doctor’s visits in the United States are for stress-related conditions. The statistics are likely much the same in Canada. There has never been a bigger need for stress therapies.
Most of the studies conducted on meditation in the past have been largely based on loose tools such as questionnaires, but Harvard School of Medicine is leading a comprehensive five year study using neuro-imaging and genomics technology. So far the examinations show that meditation techniques can switch on and off some genes linked to stress and immune function.
This ongoing study could convince more doctors to prescribe this alternative when it comes to combating modern ailments.