Article by Keira Adams
Meditation in the Western World is often viewed as simply paying close attention to something and giving it our complete focus. Yet Eastern philosophy views it as a way to eliminate earthly desires, overcome barriers to oneness and transcend from the physical to the spiritual realm. These loftier ideas aren’t always grasped by science-minded Westerners, who generally question the validity of herbal supplements, acupuncture and meditation that have been working for Eastern cultures over the past 2,500 years. Yet this intense curiosity has driven scientific research and the findings confirm that there is something magical about it. If you’ve ever wondered about the reasons to meditate, then read on for some of the exciting studies published about how it works in the mind and body.
Insomniacs are one group of people who can realize tremendous benefits from meditation. At the June 2009 Associated Professional Sleep Societies meeting, researchers from Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Evanston, Illinois reported their findings that meditating in the daytime improved the quality of sleep in patients with insomnia. Patients noted marked improvement in their sleep latency, total sleep time, total wake time, sleep efficiency, sleep quality and depression symptoms after two months of practicing Kriya Yoga meditation methods. “Results of the study show that teaching deep relaxation techniques during the daytime can help improve sleep at night,” said study leader Ramadevi Gourineni MD.
Zen meditation has been shown to lower pain sensitivity both in and out of a meditative state. The study conducted by the Universite de Montreal found that those who meditate breathed at an average of 12 breaths per minutes, compared to 15 breaths per minute in those who don’t meditate. The ultimate result for practitioners was an 18% reduction in pain sensitivity. “If meditation can change the way someone feels pain, thereby reducing the amount of pain medication required for an ailment, that would be clearly bene ficial,” explains co-author Joshua A. Grant.
If you’re depressed, you might benefit significantly from meditation. An Oxford University study indicates that mindfulness meditation significantly reduces the number of people with depression. Study leader Professor Mark Williams said: “We are on the brink of discovering really important things about how people can learn to stay well after depression. Our aim is to help people to find long-term freedom from the daily battle with their moods.”
People with early stage dementia also have good reasons to meditate. Qigong and Taiji exercises and meditation classes improved mood and cognitive function in nearly all participants after 20 weeks of meditation therapy, researchers found. “The clinical findings, from my perspective, go far beyond the statistical findings,” said Sandy Burgener from the University of Illinois. “People were happier when they were in the treatment group. Two men came in with walkers and left without them. One is in our Taiji group three years later and is still not using a walker.”
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Meditation can help you clear your mind and help eliminate a lot of stress in your life. It may seem like simple breathing exercises and weird poses on a mat but it actually does work. Try it for yourself by clicking here for more meditation information.