Meditation a technique for detaching oneself from anxiety and promoting harmony and self-realization, repetition of a mantra, and other yogic practices.
Meditation is a safe and simple way to balance a person's physical, emotional, and mental states. It is easily learned and has been used as an aid in treating stress and pain management. It has also been employed as part of overall treatment for other conditions, including hypertension and heart disease.
The calming mental exercises of meditation are a proven antidote for stress, tension, anxiety and panic. Meditation is also a scientifically verified way to reduce high blood pressure and relieve chronic pain. Many people find it helpful for headaches and respiratory problems such as emphysema and asthma.
Procedure of Treatment
Meditation is a deliberate suspension of the stream of consciousness that usually occupies the mind. The primary goal is to induce mental tranquility and physical relaxation. There are many different approaches to meditation, each with its own specialized techniques. However, all have a few requirements in common: A quiet environment where you will not be disturbed. A comfortable position, usually sitting in a straight-backed chair. A point of focus for your mind. Most people take lessons in meditation, but it is possible to teach yourself, using books or videos and applying some basic principles. At the outset, whatever the form of meditation, you need to wear comfortable clothes and assume a sitting position. Most people choose to sit in a straight-backed chair, although some find it comfortable to sit in the classic meditation position, cross-legged on the floor. Either way, the spine should be vertical. Slow, rhythmic breathing is a necessity in all forms of meditation, although each approach has a different way of achieving this. As you sit quietly and breathe rhythmically, you must focus on something-it may be your breathing; or an image such as a religious symbol, a flower or a candle; or a word or phrase repeated rhythmically. This work or phrase is called a mantra. Many people prefer to keep their eyes closed during meditation to avoid visual distractions and enhance concentration. Some people use soothing music. Try to stay as still as possible throughout the meditation period and let your attention, as much as possible, be passive. If you catch your mind wandering, try to refocus on the image or mantra you are using. Most people find that, as they gain practice, their random thoughts diminish, and the meditative state becomes more natural and instinctive. Approaches to meditation fall into three major categories:
(i) Transcendental Meditation (TM): This is the most common form of meditation in the Western world. It involved mental repetition of a mantra, usually a Sanskrit sound provided by the instructor. TM practitioners sit upright in a straight-backed chair with their eyes closed, and meditate for 15 to 20 minutes twice a day, morning and evening. A non-religious off-shoot of TM has been developed by Dr. Herbert Benson of Harvard University, with the sole goal of achieving the relaxation response that TM is known to trigger.
(ii) Mindful Meditation: An outgrowth of a Buddhist tradition called vipassana, this form of meditation focuses on the present moment. A favoured technique in mindfulness meditation (shared with other forms) in the body scan, in which you move your focus through the body, from the tips of the toes to the top of the head, paying particular attention to any areas that cause pain or suffer from a medical problem (for example, the lungs for asthma, the pancreas for diabetes, the heart for heart disease). The body scan is usually done while lying down.
(iii) Breath Meditation: This technique calls for concentration on respiration, the process of inhaling and exhaling. In other respects it is similar to TM and other forms of mediation. No matter which approach you adopt, each session typically takes 15 to 20 minutes, once in the morning and again in the evening. Advocates recommend scheduling your sessions for the same times each day, before rather than after eating.
By relaxing the body and calming the mind, meditation seeks to alleviate the harmful effects of tension and stress-factors that are known to aggravate a number of medical conditions. Although meditation has its roots in Eastern religious practices, its health benefits are independent of its spiritual aspects. Each practitioner can bring his or her own beliefs and world view to the meditative experience. Meditation has measurable effects on the pattern of electrical impulses flowing through the brain. Studies with an electroencephalogram (EEG) show that it boosts intensity of the alpha waves associated with quiet, receptive states to levels not even seen during sleep. Other studies show increased synchronization of brain waves between the two hemispheres of the brain during meditation, lower levels of stress hormones, and improved circulation. Levels of lactic acid, a potential by-product of tension and anxiety; drop after meditation. When practiced for an extended period of time, meditation has also been found to reduce oxygen pressure. Devotees of meditation often claim that it improves their memory and other mental abilities, protects them from disease and reduces their use of alcohol and drugs. Some studies have found that long-standing practitioners (those who have been meditating for several years or more) tend to make fewer doctor visits than non-meditators. Other studies have found that meditation can reduce or reverse cardiovascular disease; improve the ability to cope with chronic illness; reduce anxiety, panic and fear of open spaces; and relieve mild depression, insomnia, tension headache, irritable bowel syndrome and premenstrual syndrome. One study of mindful meditation found that it reduced the rate of relapse in those with emotional disorders. Meditation has been found to increase the longevity of healthy older adults. Pain relief is another of meditation's more successful applications. While it cannot completely eliminate discomfort, it does help people cope by reducing their tension and anxiety. For instance, the deep breathing exercises taught in childbirth classes are a form of meditation that helps women cope with the pain of labour and delivery.
Who Should Avoid This Therapy?
Some people may be temperamentally unable to achieve the tranquility of meditation, and unsuccessful attempts may actually aggravate their stress and anxiety. Meditation can also prove counterproductive for people who are working on strengthening ego boundaries, releasing powerful emotions or working through complex relationship problems.
For a few people, meditation can provoke the very problems it is supposed to defeat: fear, anxiety, confusion, depression and self-doubt. During the first ten minutes of meditation, as you unwind into a state of deep relaxation, it is possible for unsettling thoughts to pop up disrupting relaxation. The problem is most common among beginners, but occasionally crops up in the more experienced.