Meditation is a practice in which an individual trains the mind or induces a mode of consciousness, either to realize some benefit or for the mind to simply acknowledge its content without becoming identified with that content, or as an end in itself.
The term meditation refers to a broad variety of practices that includes techniques designed to promote relaxation, build internal energy or life force and develop compassion, love, patience, generosity and forgiveness.
Meditation has been around for 2,500 years but was never taken seriously until a small group of positive psychologists had the courage to break the mold and put the ancient ideas to the test.
Increase Attention Span
style=”text-align: justify;”>Anyone who has ever meditated knows that focusing on one thing for any amount of time is harder than it seems. From the outside, sitting in a quiet room and placing one’s attention on the breath seems easy. There is a reason why Buddhists refer to meditation as ‘training the mind.’
style=”text-align: justify;”>George Mason University professor Robert Youmans and University of Illinois doctoral student Jared Ramsburg asked a selection of students to meditate before a lecture and compared their test results with a control group who didn’t meditate.They found that the short meditation help students focus and retain the lecture information better. Meditation helps you learn faster.
style=”text-align: justify;”>The two main ingredients of creativity are divergent thinking — coming up with lots of ideas — and convergent thinking, solidifying those ideas into a single ‘aha moment‘.
Meditation improved convergent and divergent thinking. Interestingly, the type of meditation had an impact on which type of creative thinking was most improved. Free association meditation improved divergent thinking more that focused attention meditation.
Slowdown Neuro degenerative Diseases
style=”text-align: justify;”>Meditation and stress reduction may play an important role in slowing the progression of age-related cognitive disorders like Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.
style=”text-align: justify;”>After an 8-week mindfulness-based stress reduction program, the Alzheimer’s patients who took part showed less cognitive decline than the control group.They also reported higher levels of well being, which in turn also improves recovery.
style=”text-align: justify;”>Feelings of loneliness and social isolation are damaging to our physical and mental health, especially in older adults
style=”text-align: justify;”>Creswell added “It’s important to train your mind like you train your biceps in the gym.”
Helps to Combat Cravings and Addictions
style=”text-align: justify;”>The meditation didn’t force participants to give up smoking; it simply improved their levels of self-control and emotional regulation. It changed their habits side-on.
Increases Pain Threshold
style=”text-align: justify;”>An extreme example of the insane equanimity meditation can provide in the face of extreme pain can be found in this shocking image of a Vietnamese monk who, historically, didn’t move or scream out once during his self-immolation.
style=”text-align: justify;”>But you don’t have to meditate for thousands of hours to reduce the sensation of pain. A brief intervention of 20 minutes of meditation for three days has been shown to have lasting pain-reducing effects.
Can Help in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
style=”text-align: justify;”>Our brain’s plasticity is a gift that allows us to improve continuously and expand our horizons. The flip side is that, under certain conditions, our brains can change in an instant, and for the worse.
style=”text-align: justify;”>This is essentially post-traumatic stress disorder — a stress so significant, our psyche literally and instantly rewires our neural pathways into a disempowering configuration. Meditation can help reverse this.
Improve Pattern of your Sleep
style=”text-align: justify;”>In a study performed on 11 insomnia patients aged 25-45, relaxation techniques performed in the day were shown to improve the quality of their sleep at night.
Sleep latency, total sleep time, total wake time, wake after sleep onset, sleep efficiency, sleep quality and depression improved in patients who used meditation.
Turn Down Distractions
style=”text-align: justify;”>Researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), Harvard Medical School and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology report that meditation helps increase alpha waves in the brain — a wave that turns down the volume on distracting information.11)
style=”text-align: justify;”>If you find yourself easily distracted by trivial things, meditation practice will help you focus your attention and zone out competing stimuli.