Research compiled by Edmund Wandera. For more information visit http://edwandz.wapcreator.comMeditation refers to any of a family of practices inwhich practitioners train their minds or self-induce a mode of consciousness to realize benefit. [ 1 ] [ 2 ] [ 3 ] Meditation is generally an inwardly oriented, personal practice, which individuals can do by themselves. Prayer beads or other ritual objects may be used during meditation. Meditation may involve invoking or cultivating a feeling or internal state, such as compassion , or attending to a specific focal point . The term can refer to the state itself, as well as to practices or techniques employed to cultivate the state. [ 4 ] There are dozens or more specific styles of meditation practice; [ 3 ] the word meditation may carry different meanings in different contexts. Meditation has been practiced since antiquity as a component of numerous religious traditions. A 2007 study by the U.S. government found that nearly 9.4% of U.S. adults (over 20 million) had practiced meditation within the past 12 months, up from 7.6% (more than 15 million people) in 2002. [ 5 ] Since the 1960s, meditation has been the focus ofincreasing scientific research of uneven rigor and quality. [ 6 ] In over 1,000 published research studies, various methods of meditation have been linked to changes in metabolism, blood pressure, brain activation, and other bodily processes. [ 7 ] [ 8 ] Meditation has been used in clinical settings as a method of stress and pain reduction.
MEDITATION AND WESTERN THERAPUTIC USES
Meditation has entered the mainstream of healthcare as a method of stress and pain reduction. As a method of stress reduction, meditation has been used in hospitals in cases of chronic or terminal illness to reduce complications associated with increased stress that include depressed immune systems . There is growing agreement in the medical community that mental factors such as stress significantly contribute to a lack of physical health, and there is a growing movement in mainstream science to fund research in this area. There are now several mainstream health care programs which aid those, both sick and healthy , in promoting their inner well-being, especially those mindfulness based programs . Mindfulness-based stress reduction See also: Mindfulness (psychology) and Mindfulness-based stress reduction A 2003 meta-analysis found that mindfulness-based stress reduction, which involves continuousawareness of consciousness, without seeking to censor thoughts, concluded that the form of meditation may be broadly useful for individuals attempting to cope with clinical and nonclinical problems. Diagnoses for which MBSR was found to be helpful included chronic pain , fibromyalgia , cancer patients and coronary artery disease . Improvements were noted for both physical and mental health measures. [ 14 ] Flow Mindfulness meditation, anapanasati , and related techniques, are intended to train attention for the sake of provoking insight. A wider, more flexible attention span makes it easier to be aware of a situation, easier to be objective in emotionally or morally difficult situations, and easier to achieve a state of responsive, creative awareness or " flow ". [ 15 ] Research from Harvard medical school also showsthat during meditation, physiological signals show that there is a decrease in respiration and increase in heart rate and blood oxygen saturation levels. [ 16 ] Meditation and stress National Institutes of Health According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) , "Practicing meditation has been shown to induce some changes in the body...Some types of meditation might work by affecting the autonomic (involuntary) nervous system ." The sympathetic nervous system and parasympathetic nervous system are two divisions of the autonomic nervous system of the body. The sympathetic nervous system is responsible for our reaction to stress or fear and is colloquially known as the "fight-or-flight" system. The parasympathetic nervous system is active during times of rest and associated with"rest and digest". The NIH goes on, "It is thought that some types of meditation might work by reducing activity in the sympathetic nervous system and increasing activity in the parasympathetic nervous system ." Goleman: Amygdala and pre-frontal cortex One theory, presented by Daniel Goleman & Tara Bennett-Goleman [ 17 ] suggests that meditation [ clarification needed ] works