What is Meditation?
Meditation : A simple, fast way to reduce stress
Maybe you have heard others talk about how much the benefit from meditation or perhaps you have played with the thought of giving meditation a try are you might be meditating regularly.
In this article I would like to look at why meditation can be beneficial. And specifically what science has to say a about it.
A first important thought when discussing meditation is that what people actually do when they meditate it can be quite different depending on which form of meditation they practice.
This could either be focusing on your breath body feelings aur thoughts concentrating on an object or repeating specific words thoughts or sentences.
Research on meditation has received a lot of attention in the past few decades with thousands of studies reporting their results.
My PhD supervisor is very invested in meditation Research and he is written a book summarising the effects of meditation.
He and his team also did a meta-analysis on the effects of meditation.
A meta-analysis is a summarise to study that looks at the effect that many individual studies found it and then summarises them and what they found in the study is that meditation first and foremost affected the the meditators emotions.
I thought that was pretty interesting cause of an we think that meditation helps you focus which it also does what first and foremostly it actually changed the emotional experience of meditators.
Benefits of meditation :
- Improved social relationships.
- Reduced anxieties and fears
- And less other negative emotions
They also found and improvement it in mindfulness perception and attention and they also look that if meditation could be perceived as a relaxation technique if it actually had benefits that went beyond their benefits of a relaxation technique and it’s probably obvious but yes meditation is more than just a relaxation technique it had additional benefits.
Studies Have Found Benefits of Meditation
Other studies have found benefits of meditation like reducing stress and depression increasing the quality of life and even physical benefits like lowering blood pressure research has also compared the brain activity of meditators and non meditators and found that it’s very different in many different parts of the brain and not only the brain activity is different meditators even the structure of their brain is different, so research found the differences in the brain structure of meditators in more than 15 different parts of the brain. Among these are the prefrontal cortex which is associated with a consciousness of oneself.
Once feelings thoughts and what one it doing also there was a difference in the insulin and somatomotor cortex which is associated with an awareness of what’s going on in the body the hippocampus was different which is associated with memory and the anterior cingulate cortex which is associated with emotion regulation.
So all in all these findings strongly suggest that meditation can lead to long-term differences and changes in the brain.
One study found that their biological makeup of the brain in 50 Real world meditators watch 7.5 years younger than in non meditators.
So now there is this hypothesis that meditation may even slow down aging of the brain.
These findings are very encouraging for meditators aur people who wonder if they should give meditation a try, still I would like to add that the history of meditation research is comparatively young and there are many questions which remain to be answered.
So definitely keep your ears open for any more news on the benefits of meditation.
One thing that is missing mainly e are the main question that remains to be answered is how exactly does meditation lead to these benefits.
Become Aware of Your Thoughts & Emotions
Investigating a practice and then the effect is one thing but it does not offer an explanation why those effects are coming about through this practice. So this is something that researchers are developing as we speak so that we can have it theory about why meditation has the benefits that it has and then test that theory more guidedly in research. Rather than just observing and noticing is and this are effects of meditation.
I have looked at a few of these newly emerging theories of meditation and a basic idea that they all include is that meditation leads to an increased Awareness of what is going on around us, and an increased Awareness of what’s going on inside of us. And this increased awareness in turn leads to insights into the situation. And these additional insight switch we wouldn’t have had without our increased awareness will then lead to to a different reaction to the situation we might be appraising it differently questioning if what we are interpreting is what is actually going on.
For example which then of course change is the way we react to others and our social lives and also our emotional lives.
Let’s look at an example what this might look like. Let’s say someone is criticized for something they did and before they started meditating they might just spontaneously react by a counter attack, by listing everything that is wrong with the critic or by ignoring that it happened in the first place and numbing the experience with alcohol stopping food or other agents or they might react by overcompensating next time trying to be perfect next time to not be criticized again. Aur they might left out at another person that had nothing to do with it or watch only marginally part of the story.
But let’s say the person had an increased awareness because of meditation then the person might ask themselves aur be aware of other things of this situation like facts about the critic what’s going on in the critic what is the story of the critic what is making the critic act the way he or she is acting.
keep the critic at all someone to take criticism from or they might be more aware of what is going on in there on life like what is this criticism triggering inside of me. What deeper issued and they might notice that actually e i don’t want to take criticism from anonymous accounts on the Internet or this criticism somehow triggered a deeper unresolved is you inside of me. It’s making me question my watch and it’s making me feel anxious and depressed and before I engage with the situation in any other way I want to first of all make sense of what’s going on inside of me. So then the person will react differently than those spontaneous reaction which I mentioned first and this will change social relationships and emotional experiences.
And this is probably one of the main reasons why meditation is so beneficial for so many people because it increases our Awareness of what is going on in life and and increased Awareness of ourselves of others of life in general also helps us to act more and according to in accordance with our goals. Which then increases the likelihood that we will actually reach them.