Meditation is the practice of turning your attention to a single point of reference. It can involve focusing on the breath, on bodily sensations, or on a word or phrase known as a mantra. In other words, meditation means turning your attention away from distracting thoughts and focusing on the present moment. Meditating is deceptively simple. A cartoon from The New Yorker; Två munkar sitter sida vid sida och mediterar. Den yngre ger den äldre en frågande blick, vilken den äldre svarar med, ”Ingenting händer sedan. Detta är allt.”
A fantastic cure for stress
More and more people are choosing to Close their Eyes for 15-30 minutes per day and close down and move into themselves, or however they experience their meditation. Not because they don't have anything other to do but because the meditation gives them calmness, concentration and energy in a stressful day. Many people uses meditation as an effective and modern way to reach some sort of mental zeroing. A conscious decision to reach Peace, that gives new energy and help them keep in top form when they need to be.
And the numbers are increasing. Meditation have far more deep effects then we have been aware of. It touches a row of inner Powers that can assist your physical Health to the degree that you prolong your Life. These are the Powers that people doing yoga as well as monks have been utilising for centuries but fortunately for us they haven't patented that.
Scientists from the West got their eyes opened for the physical effects of meditation when Dalai Lama, the leader of the Tibetan Buddhists, year 1992 asked scientist to study his monks during meditation. Advanced brain scans were made and it was documented that there are many positive processes happening within the brain during meditation, which are hard to achieve in other ways.
Primary, meditation is a systematic way to relax and calm down the mind, ease stress and anxiety as well as letting the effect take part in the whole of the system. All of this to increase the quality of Life. Most of us have the ability to achieve meditation like condition without being aware of it. Just when we for instance look into a fire, look out over the ocean, while our thoughts float away, or listen to soft Music or when we get lost in a really good novel. This is contemplation and not actually meditation even if this way is also very good for us. The Point is that you have the ability to choose how and when you want to achieve this condition, and to reach there within a few minutes when it fits into your Daily Schedule.
But what happens in our brain then? The scientists have discovered that a few areas in the brain becomes more Active, while others relax. The front part of the brain is used to focus the attention on a specific task. This area of the brain is stimulated by meditation, especially in the left frontal lobe. It can contribute to less anxiety and create more positive thoughts which is a part of the task for this part of the brain.
You can say that meditation alters the brain from being focused on fight or flight mode to become more relaxed and positive. Reversely the activity of the parietal lobe lessens remarkably, which you use when you locate yourself in time and space. This coincide really well with that your spatial awareness and your demarcation towards your surrounding is put down on backburner, so that you'll get a sense of sliding through the universe. This confirms the brain scans of the meditating monks.
Meditation evokes a unique physiological condition, where you can uphold a high sense of awareness and function in certain parts of the brain, and at the same time it evokes a Deep relaxation and a sense of peacefulness. So it is not only about normal rest. At the same time the metabolism, the speed of your breathing, and use of oxygen is lowered a lot. With people who are very experienced in meditation there has been measured a reduction of metabolism with no less than 40 percent. The breathing can stop completely at periods as well.
The activity in the so called sympathetic nervous system is reduced as well. It gives more calm in the whole body. The amount of stress hormones from the pituitary gland and adrenal glands is lowered acutely during meditation, and there are changes in many other the body’s hormonal systems as well. The experts are not quite clear as yet of the actual importance it has on a factual basis.
Since meditation has this effect on our psyche, it also has a positive influence on our resistance towards diseases as well. There is actually a close connection between the brain, the hormone system and the immune system. Therefore you are more vulnerable for infections among other things when you are stressed. Reversely relaxation therapy can strengthen the immune system, so that you can become more resistant to Colds. That is definitely valid for such an effective anti-stress method as meditation.
Meditation really pays off when it comes to the immune system’s ability to produce the antibodies which attacks bacteria and viruses. In a trial a group of individuals were vaccinated against influenza. The participants who meditated showed much better protection against the disease since their immune system produced more antibodies against the influenza virus. The better they were at meditating, the more antibodies they produced. At the same time they felt better and were less stressed. Even other scientific researchers have confirmed that meditation strengthen the immune system.
More and more doctors are starting to recommend meditation to prevent, ease or treat for example heart diseases, cancer, aids, lessened fertility and psychological afflictions such as depression and hyperactivity. In certain cases meditation and other relaxation techniques akin to it such as tai-chi, qi gong and yoga were recommended when other treatments hasn't had any effect. Meditation can also be used as a compliment to other treatments.
Doctors can absolutely recommend meditation to patients who has high blood pressure. A trial from Cedars-Sinai Medical Centre in Los Angeles shows how meditation can make a difference quite quickly. In the trial a Group of heart patients were participating, who tried meditation for the first time. After 16 weeks with meditation their heart pressure had fallen remarkably and the blood test showed that their circulation of insulin had become healthier compared to a Group which did not meditate.
Both high blood pressure as well as bad insulin function can lead to atherosclerosis and blood cloths. A lot of indications show that meditation can act as a retardant to this dangerous development. Stroke, the American doctors association's Journal described recently how the risk of atherosclerosis of the throat artery (and thereby even risk of blood clots in the brain) is reduced in people who meditate.
At ultrasound scanning of the throat artery the scientists could demonstrate, how about six months of meditation twice a day, 20 minutes at a time, could prevent atherosclerosis of the wall of the blood vessel. The effect of the meditation corresponds to actual 11 percent lower risk for a blood clot of the brain and 8-10 percent lower risk of a brain haemorrhage. Meditation is also used to reduce chronic pain. When you are sick or in pain you get scared and anxious. That increases the pain and you end up in a downward spiral. By relaxing the brain reverses this spiral.
Even psychologists uses meditation in extreme cases to lessen the very aggressive people such as the inmates of the British Lancaster-prison. Meditation got the inmates to feel less depressive, hostile, hopeless and helpless. They even smoked less. And in an American prison only 56 percent of the meditating prisoners relapsed within two years after the end of the sentence compared to 75 percent of the non-meditating ones.
So there are many positive reasons for you to start meditating. When you have put a bit of effort into learning this technique you have gotten yourself a genius tool for both body and mind.
If you feel like you would like to attend a course in meditation we continuously have them. It is open to everyone and you do not need to have previous experience in meditation.
If you wish to read a book on meditation or listen to an audiobook, you find information on how you can purchase or download a copy of our book "Let's Meditate; an easy step-by-step guide to achieve inner Peace and wellbeing" if you go to our webshop.