Meditation is a way by which an individual utilizes a process of deep focused concentration, using a technique, such as mindfulness, to train focus and awareness, and attain a mentally relaxed and emotionally balanced condition. The word “meditation” derives from the Sanskrit root, “medha”, meaning “mind” and “rundhati” meaning “to relax”. The underlying principle is the belief that a mind that is free of stress and distractions can be more effective at self-healing. According to some experts, meditation is one of the best ways to deal with stress. In addition, meditation has been shown to increase levels of happiness and wellbeing, and to lower levels of anxiety and depression.
In addition to these positive effects, a recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association show that meditators are less likely to suffer from depression and anxiety in the course of attending meditation classes. Dr. Muhammad Yunus, of New York University said that the benefits of meditation were most apparent in those people who already had a greater burden of mental illness and pain. According to another study, chronic pain was reduced in two groups of chronic pain sufferers who regularly participated in meditation.
According to some studies, meditation can be a useful way to deal with several disorders and diseases, including high blood pressure, heart disease, asthma, COPD, stress and ulcers. One review on the benefits of meditation on mental disorders and health problems notes that depression is one of the most common symptoms of anxiety and stress. According to this same review, anxiety often co-occurs with depression. Anxiety and depression are also known to increase the risk of substance abuse and addiction, both of which are associated with rising health care costs and negative consequences for public health. It is therefore encouraging to know that meditation can reduce anxiety and stress, thereby reducing health care costs and negative consequences.
People with hypertension may find that regular meditation reduces their blood pressure and increases their ability to control their blood pressure better. The review on the benefits of meditation on anxiety and depression notes that people who are suffering from anxiety and depression also tend to have higher blood pressure than those who are not suffering from these problems. The results of this review on the benefits of meditation on anxiety and depression were found in a sample of nurses. The authors of this review note that there is also evidence that regular meditation can improve sleep quality, reduce fatigue and improve alertness as well.
A recent study found that ordinary meditating may help to alleviate the symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder. The study did not directly link meditation to PTSD but found that ordinary meditating made it easier for ordinary individuals to deal with upsetting sensations in their brains. The participants in this study had all undergone rigorous training in cognitive behavioral therapy and had been instructed to ignore certain sensations in their brains in an effort to let them feel less anxiety and worry. However, half of the group had been taught to meditate and the remainder were given a placebo. Those who meditated with the placebo showed significantly less anxiety and the placebo group showed no significant difference in their responses to the stressful stimuli.
The above studies on the benefits of meditation on different types of mood are only some of the many different types of evidence that meditation can be beneficial to our mental health. Many of the results from these studies on the benefits of meditation are found in everyday situations. For example, often when we are tensed or stressed we focus on one thing, such as an incoming phone call, an argument with someone, or even something that is going on around us. This narrow focus keeps our attention fixed on our immediate surroundings, which makes it much easier to feel tense or overwhelmed.