Articles on research on meditation

Benefits of Meditation

Dr. Yogesh Kumar, Ayurveda
Seeking calmness, peace of mind, joy, vibrant health, greater energy, positive relationships and fulfillment in life? Wish stress-free and worry-free life? Meditation, an ancient Indian methodology as part of YOGA.Meditation offers innumerable benefits for your body, mind and spirit. The rest you gain in meditation is deeper than the deepest sleep.Procedure:Sit in any meditative posture, keeping your back straight and body relaxed. First focus on the toe then shifting the focus on the knees, after some time shift your focus on the genital area, next on to the heart area and at last the area between the eyebrows.Try to practice this technique in a peaceful area. Some people recommend soft music, but it can turn your focus to the music itself and here we are trying to dig deep in our soul, so music should be avoided.Good for: Concentration, Attention deficit Disorders, Stress, Anxiety, Hyper activity, Soul Searching. Helps in drug abuse, smoking, alcohol or any kind of addiction, self-improvement and temperament. The Benefits of Regular Meditation includes.Physical benefits of Meditation. Meditation prevents stress from getting into the system Meditation releases accumulated stress that is in the systemOn a physical level, meditation Lowers high blood pressure* Lowers the levels of blood lactate, reducing anxiety attacks Decreases any tension-related pain, such as, tension headaches, ulcers, insomnia, muscle and joint problems. Increases serotonin production that improves mood and behavior Improves the immune system Increases the energy level, as you gain an inner source of energyMental Benefits of Meditation.Anxiety decreases Emotional stability improves Creativity increases Happiness increases Intuition develops Gain clarity and peace of mind Problems become smaller. Meditation sharpens the mind by gaining focus and expands through relaxation A sharp mind without expansion causes tension, anger and frustration An expanded consciousness without sharpness can lead to lack of action/progress The balance of a sharp mind and an expanded consciousness brings perfection

How to Tune Your Body and Mind With Meditation

Dr. Rahul Kolamkar, Homeopath
My last article comments made me to write this article. Thanks to all those who asked about meditation, you are the inspiration for this article. Medication is for body and Meditation is for soul. In today's world of commerce and materialism we had forgotten that we are not what we are. Our body is just an instrument and the life(Vital) force is some thing which make us differ from a dead. Force is generated by energy which have vibrations and waves. Meditation is the process to tune the vibration of the energy which brings life to us. As good is the tuning the better is the vibrations, and as vibrations are better the best is your life performance. Lets have a look on how to start with meditation1. Need of Meditation: Need is the mother of all inventions. For every human being if you don't have a need you can't see the path. Same way the need to calmness, stability or any other immaterial demands can keep you focus initially. 2. Faith: A quality which brings hope to your vision. Faith is a proved phenomenon which helps you to act in such a way to get every thing you need. Just it has to be charged 100%. A single percent of doubt can bring fractured fulfillment.3. Consistency: A key to every success. Mediation is not a process of days or weeks, its habit. The more you practice the more you are at core. Initially it seems to be slow moving but as you get connected, you will never feel the slowness. So keep doing.4. Start from where you are: Don't hunt a place for meditation. Its a process of getting connected and not disconnected, so you can start from you room also. Just make sure you are not disturbed by your phone or door bell. 5. Time: The best time for the one who is starting is the early morning schedule. Human brains are in alpha mode which is best suited while meditating. But if you are night watcher then it will be more of lethargic. So early to bed and early to rise. These basic steps will surely help to take you to next level of pro. Now remains the question of whom to follow? Its your personal choice to follow any technique, just make sure its has an immaterial approach. One cannot buy a immaterial thing with material cost. Avoid loud and noisy techniques as you are doing it for inner peace and calmness. Thank you

meditation... the Ideal Lifestyle

Dr Prabhakar Korada
What is meditation?Meditation is the science and art of keeping a check on the vagrancies of the mind and bringing it to a state of thoughtlessness... a state which is conflict free, and at once blissful. It is essentially an Oriental spiritual practice, now borrowed by relaxation therapists.It is believed that the human mind produces innumerable thoughts in a sequence, at any given time (no wonder we are such nervous wrecks). The art of meditation is aimed at capturing that moment in the mind which is free of thought. The thoughtless state exists between two successive thoughts, ie., between the end of one thought and the beginning of the next. Because this state is thought-free, it is naturally conflict-free, jealousy-free, fear-free, lust-free and anger-free. That is the desirable state of blissful being, for all of us.Human mind is undoubtedly like a monkey, as restless, as fidgety and as destructively experimental. It needs to be controlled. Meditation is one of the most effective disciplines to control this monkey mind.Types of meditationThere are different schools of thought which advocate different techniques. Some call it ‘Vippassana’, some, ‘mantra meditation’, and others call it pranayama and yoga. But essentially the basic dynamics and the final goal are the same.Techniques of meditationThe chief technique is to focus/observe one activity (such as breathing in Vippassana), or repeat one word or set of words (called mantra), or practice the rhythmic breathing exercises of yoga (called pranayama). This focus diverts the mind from the other unnecessary thoughts, and thus calms the mind. A calm mind slowly becomes thought free, even free of the mantra, towards the end.  A thought-free mind becomes spiritually powerful. An idea, a word or a thought that is expressed by such a steadied mind hits its target like an arrow. That is why spiritual gurus advise their disciples never to direct aggressive words or thoughts at anybody.Patanjali  yogasutras ...  the eightfold path to yoga consist of certain prerequisites for the practice of meditation. Chief among them are non injury to others by thought, word or deed, non stealing, physical cleanliness, healthy harmonious attitude towards all, contemplation, surrendering oneself to God etc. These attitudes help one in relaxing. In a nutshell Patanjali’s yogasutras prompt us to relax all the muscles and be stress free before starting meditation. This relaxation can never be attained if one is harbouring negative emotions such as anger, revenge, jealousy, guilt, greed or lust.The necessity of a guruIt is very necessary that a person who wishes to practice meditation or pranayama/yoga should seek the guidance of an appropriate teacher. It is best for him to follow the same sectarian family practices and belief system that has a lineage of gurus. This avoids unnecessary conflicts. Otherwise they may approach any school of thought which may initiate individuals in a secular way.How to practice meditation if there is no guru availableFor those who are yet to find a guru, I would advise the following:  After taking care of physical cleanliness and fostering the right frame of mind (do not read newspapers or watch news channels before meditation), be seated cross legged on a mat, preferably facing the east. Sit straight (but not stiff) with the neck and spine perpendicular to the floor. Relax and take deep breathes, taking advantage of abdominal breathing (ie., stomach should bloat out when you breathe in, and become flat when you breathe out). Do this slowly for atleast five to ten minutes. It would be excellent if you chant ‘Ommmmmm.......’ while breathing out. At the end of a few minutes, the mind becomes calm and almost thought free. You may continue enjoying this blissful state, or you may continue your session by repeating the name of your favourite form of God. Valmiki was initiated into the mantra ‘Ma-Ra’ which when repeated constantly until it became Rama. The same mantra can be uttered in your mind, without moving the lips and the tongue. Slowly you would go into a deep state of relaxation, and the mantra, at some stage of the process, may cease. During meditation, it is possible that either pleasant or unpleasant thoughts, from the unconscious mind, resurface. They should be observed with equanimity just like how you watch a movie without getting involved. They would soon disappear. ‘Ma-Ra’ is a simple mantra that transformed Valmiki from the state of a highway robber to that of a yogi. It may be chanted silently in the mind even while cooking, walking or travelling. Slowly the Stress of Kama would evolve into the Bliss of Rama. Go on and try it.But whatever method you practice is personal to you, and should be kept confidential between you and your guru; it should never be open for frivolous discussions with worldly people.Is meditation scientific? What are the benefits?Apart from the fact that meditation improves mood, memory, sleep and other autonomic functions of the body, Electroencephalographic studies conclusively proved that there is a predominance of theta waves in regular meditators, suggesting that they are, most of the times, in a state of deep relaxation even while actively performing their duties. Such individuals are not overwhelmed by adversities; they are forgiving, adjusting, altruistic, creative, self disciplined and truthful. Wouldn’t you like to be one among them!

Mindfulness in Addiction Recovery

Ms. Raisa Luther, Psychotherapist
It’s a frantic life. You rush through the day, multi-tasking your way at home and at office. You make the bed while keeping an eye on the kids, the other eye on the TV…At office, you are checking emails, responding to phone calls and checking on your team while trying to meet a deadline on the project world. In your rush to complete various tasks, you may find that your personal connection with the present moment is lost – you are actually missing out on what you are doing and how you are feeling. Did you fully feel that you are well-rested when you get up in the morning? Did you notice and appreciate the rose bloom in your home garden while you were on your way out for work?In case of addicts and alcoholics, their daily life is a rush of chasing their obsessions and compulsions. Their normal emotions are replaced by fast-moving and overwhelming negative emotions such as anger, fears, resentment and euphoria. Mindfulness – focusing on the ‘here & now’Mindfulness is the practice of consciously focusing your attention on the present moment—and accepting it without judgment. Mindfulness has been examined scientifically and has been found to be a key element in happiness. It is proven to be very useful for persons with obsessive-compulsive issues – addiction to alcohol, drugs, gambling and internet.From ancient roots to contemporary science Most religions include some form of prayer or meditation technique that helps shift a person’s focus from daily preoccupations toward an appreciation of the moment and a larger perspective on life. It is an essential first step on the ‘spiritual’ path that enhances equanimity and happiness. Mindfulness has roots in Buddhism.Jon Kabat-Zinn, Professor emeritus and founder director of the Stress Reduction Clinic at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center, played an important role in bringing the practice of mindfulness meditation into mainstream medicine and demonstrated that practicing mindfulness can bring improvements in both physical and psychological symptoms as well as positive changes in health, attitudes and behaviors.Mindfulness has proven to be vastly useful in treatment of various ailments, including addictions. Rehabilitation facilities are increasingly using this technique in facilitating recovery from substance abuse.

Mindfulness - the Art of Being

Ms. Neeta Shetty(P. T), Psychologist
Mindfulness is often confused as a complicated affair but the simple essense of Mindfulness is living with full awareness or the Art of Being. Its about living in the present moment with awareness and focus . Most of the time we tend to conjure up the past or future worries. Mindful living helps us to savour the flavors of life by enjoying the present moment applying our five senses of Sight, Smell, Touch, Sound and Taste.Happiness has nothing to do with accumulating a lot of materialistic or non-materialistic things but rather associated with the quality of time spent or memories which we create with ourselves and others. Spending time doing things that we enjoy such as cultivating a hobby or getting into an activity like Dancing, Swimming, Exercising, Meditation and Yoga helps us reboot our brains thus promoting happiness and improved focus, memory and creativity. Mindful living helps us to introspect, make self-discovery and enhance self awareness which aids problem solving and improves interpersonal relationship skills. Busy-ness and multitasking is the way of life most of us. We are so busy 'Doing' that we have stopped 'Being'. This doingness not only complicates and stresses us out but also makes us more mechanical and less creative. Being busy often takes away our focus from the day-to-day tiny pleasures of life which we usually overlook by doing multiple things. Not many of us notice the Sunrise or the Sunset nor observe the breeze brushing against our skin or hear the sound of birds around us or stop to smell the flowers on our way.Living Mindfully and with awareness is extremely essential for happiness and health. But the fact remains that we rarely prioritize this over our never ending to-do list. We often think that we are happy and satisfied once we accomplish or do a lot of things in life and in the bargain tend to overlook the nourishing activities which help us de-stress and unwind. Hence learning the Art of Being and breaking free from the habit of Doing is extremely important for our Mental Wellbeing. This will not only help you to be a happier,better and a successful person but also have wonderful relationship with the people around you as well as improve the quality of your life. Mindfulness does not take up a lot of time its not a therapy or a course but a way of life, what is required to practice it is patience and persistance.

The Co-Relation Between Mental Health and Yoga

Dr. D. S. Poonia, Psychiatrist
Last year, United Nation and International community has celebrated and declared 21 June as International Day of Yoga. Yoga have its origin in ancient India. It is defined as specific physical, mental, and spiritual disciplines that are practices in order to establish a state of permanent inner peace . The Yoga Sutras define the technique as follows:yama (universal ethics), niyama (individual ethics), asana (physical poses), pranayama (breath control), pratyhara (control of the senses), dharana (steadiness of mind), dhyana (meditation), and samadhi (bliss).The word Yoga means union of personal consciousness with cosmic one. Considering mental health, this union can be viewed as union of thought and affect as well as mind and body. Since last three decades emerging evidence are coming from scientific literature that Yoga is effective in various psychiatric disorder. How it works ?Most of the scientific research has shown that Yoga may have work via regulating HPA (hypothalamic-pituitaryaxis) and sympathetic system. Yoga reduced the cortisol levels in blood which are involved in negative emotions and other health problem like cardiovascular diseases. Mindfulness defined as “the process of thinking and felling about oneself". If we includes other in this process then it is called as Mentalization. These process alter brain neurotransmitter and receptors specially GABA, Serotonine, NE, DA in such a manner that it decreases stress and anxiety symptoms.  These process also alters the brain waves especially alpha and theta wave.  As Mindfulness is an integral part of many Yoga techniques. In long term mindfulness reduces the stress signalling molecules and increases dopamine in amygdala. This in turn help in regulating emotions, mood and anxiety.Mental health condition showing effectiveness of  Yoga Study have shown that Yoga is effective in building positive health in healthy individual. Other study has shown that Yoga improves general health, improve physical health and sleep related problems, lowers stress and promote social function. It is also effective in anxiety and depression,OCD, PTSD, Psychosis, Substance use disorder etc. 

Is Yoga Useful in Addiction Treatment?

Ms. Raisa Luther, Psychotherapist
Yoga is best exercise in early recoveryHeavy exercise is not recommended in early recovery. First of all, it puts substantial strain on the already damaged central nervous system which is in process of recovering from substance abuse. This may trigger a health crisis.Secondly, individuals who indulge in strenuous physical exercise such as weight-lifting, begin to feel that they have already ‘recovered’. They may not realize that this feeling is merely on a physical level. Since addiction affects all areas of the addict, they need to address their cognitive, emotional, social and spiritual areas too. This takes time. Heavy physical exercise may make them complacent and vulnerable for relapse.Yoga is an effective tool in addiction recovery for several reasons. Some are:Yoga Teaches New Coping SkillsA primary area of concern for addiction treatment is the addict’s inability to cope with difficult thoughts and feelings. Addiction therapy mainly focuses on helping the individual in identifying the negative thoughts and emotions and learning to manage these. Yoga teaches new and effective stress-management techniques such as deep breathing to help manage thoughts and emotions.Yoga Helps Individuals Achieve Peace and BalanceAddicted persons usually carry a lot of suppressed anger within themselves. This may be directed towards self (guilt and shame) or others (blaming and resentment). They abuse alcohol or drugs in an effort to calm these uncomfortable emotions. They lack a sense of balance and inner peace. The 12 Step approach helps in one’s situation and shortcomings. Similarly, Yoga helps in balancing inner and outer peace by achieving balance – something other types of exercise may not.Yoga Encourages SpiritualityAddiction causes spiritual erosion. Meditation and prayer are found to be useful in addiction recovery – as advocated by 12 Step programs. Yoga also encourages the individual to make a spiritual connection through deep utterances and meditation.Yoga Promotes Self-disciplineUnstructured and unhealthy lifestyle is the hallmark of an active addict. His or her life is determined by drugs and alcohol. High impulsivity is common. Rehabs such as Hope Trust introduce their clients to a structured daily schedule – eating, sleeping, attending sessions and playing on time. It is important for basic health and helps in clearing the mind to be receptive to therapeutic inputs. In recovery, gaining control over impulsivity is important. Negative thoughts and emotions need to be replaced with positive action. Again, Yoga helps in achieving these goals.Yoga is an ancient Indian practice, recently getting worldwide popularity. Yoga is a natural mood-stabilizer, releases negativity and promotes overall wellbeing. In the past decade, it is increasingly been used in addiction treatment.Since its inception in 2002, Hope Trust rehab has integrated Yoga in its addiction treatment program. Yoga supplements the 12 Step centred approach that also includes Mindfulness (meditation), CBT, individual and group therapy, audio-video inputs, nutritious diet, recreation and medical/ psychiatric back up. The experience of Hope Trust is that Yoga is an excellent tool for individuals seeking to build a new life free from alcohol or drug addiction.

Mindfulness for Schizophrenia

Dr. Swarajit Ghosh, Psychiatrist
Even though mindfulness has witnessed a surge of academic interest over the past few decades, there are very few studies on mindfulness for schizophrenia. There is considerable empirical evidence nonetheless, demonstrating that mindfulness meditation is an effective therapeutic tool for a range of mental health disorders including generalized anxiety disorder, ADHD, social anxiety disorder and depression as well as being a valuable aid in stress reduction and pain relief.What is mindfulness?The two components that are common to most definitions of mindfulness are:The attentional component, which pertains to the ability to intentionally regulate attention and is mediated by a deliberate and sustained observation of thoughts, feelings, physical sensations and other stimuli as they occur in the present moment and,The acceptance component, which involves maintaining an attitude of openness and receptivity to these experiences rather than judging, ignoring or minimizing them particularly when they are unpleasant (Bishop et al, 2004).There are a few case reports that describe the clinical applicability of different meditation techniques to individuals suffering from schizophrenia-spectrum disorders with persistent negative symptoms. These investigators claim that meditation in a group setting may have potential in reducing the pervasiveness of negative symptoms like anhedonia ( an inability to feel pleasure) and asociality while enhancing factors that contribute to lasting recovery like hope and purpose in life.When questioned, individuals suffering from schizophrenia state that continuing with meditative practices can be difficult without guidance and oversight. Many of those who have access to training and supervision affirm strongly that this practice reduces the intensity of persistent symptoms significantly. The debate on the effectiveness of mindfulness for schizophrenia continues, and it is clear that more research needs to be conducted, not only to confirm or refute possible benefits but also to elucidate the mechanisms that underlie the actions of this ancient practice.

Stress Affects Women More, and Here's Why!

Vanikala Venugopal
Most stress is felt among women between 25 and 55 yrs of age, who are trying to balance demanding careers with obligations at home. Women are more susceptible to stress because they are conditioned to be the caretakers for others. As women progress through life stages, hormonal balance associated with premenstrual, postpartum and menopausal changes can affect vulnerability to stress and depression.Definition: Stress is an adaptive response to an external situation that results in physical, psychological and or behavioural deviation in social participation.Tips for Women looking to manage Stress:Improve your diet. Eating well balanced meals can improve your physical well being and in turn your emotional health.Sound sleep is a must. It is recommended 7-9 hrs /night for the adult with regular sleep schedule. Go to bed and get up at the same time every day.Exercise: Be active. Exercise won’t make stress disappear, but it can help you clear your thoughts and approach issues calmly.Humour and laughter have been known to be very effective.Breathe in and out slowly. It can lower your heart rate, increase calm and mental alertness.Connect with family, friends and people you enjoy being around.Other popular stress busters are:Salt Rooms: Salt rooms are natural negative ion generators. Negative ions increase the flow of oxygen to the brain resulting in higher alertness, decreased drowsiness and more mental energy. It reduces stress and depression and improves energy and mental acuity while stabilizing mood and sleep patterns.Yoga and meditation: Yoga is a mind body practice that combines physical poses, controlled breathing and meditation.