There is a lot of research done on how meditation can improve mental health. Study after study shows great results.
Many clinicians are putting a lot of time into alternative options to treat mentally related illnesses. Some meditation techniques and extended relaxation can calm your body and mind, regulate emotions and moods.
It changes the brain waves into patterns that are then beneficial to our particular needs.
Anxiety is reduced by meditating and so then the mental related condition becomes manageable.
Can Meditation Improve Mental Health?
Here is Jonathan Krygier and Andrew Kemp on how meditation can imporve mental health.
Meditation has traditionally been associated with Eastern mysticism but science is beginning to show that cultivating a “heightened” state of consciousness can have a major impact on our brain, the way our bodies function and our levels of resilience.
Clinicians are increasingly looking for effective, preventative, non-pharmacological options to treat mental illness. And meditation techniques – such as quietening the mind, understanding the self and exercising control – show promise as an alternative tool to regulate emotions, mood and stress.
Meditation influences the body in unexpected ways. Experienced meditators, for instance, can speed or slow their metabolism by more than 60% and raise their body temperature by as much as 8°C.
Even a little training in meditation can make people calmer, less stressed and more relaxed. As little as 20 minutes a day leads to physical changes, such as reduced blood pressure, lower heart rate, deeper and calmer breathing. Improvements in blood pressure as a result of meditation have also been linked to a lower risk of heart attack.
Meditation is also beginning to prove effective as a treatment for chronic and acute pain. One experiment showed that four days of mindfulness meditation substantially reduced the participant’s experience of unpleasantness and the intensity of their pain.
Mind, braind and beyond
Meditation increases left-sided, frontal brain activity, an area of the brain associated with positive mood. Interestingly, this increase in left-brain activity is also linked with improvements in immune system activity. And the more you practice meditation, the greater your immune function is likely to be.
Studies have shown that long-term mediators have increased volumes of grey matter in the right orbito-frontal cortex and hippocampus regions of their brain which are responsible for regulating emotion. Similar changes have also been found in non-mediators who completed an eight-week course in mindfulness training.
So even a limited stint of meditation has the potential to change the structure of the brain.
Can Meditation Improve Mental Health?
Here is the research on ageing and emotional stability.
The cortex in the brain usually thins out as we age – a type of atrophy related to dementia. Intriguingly, those who have meditated around an hour a day for six years display increased cortical thickness. Older people who meditate also show decreased age-related decline in cortical thickness compared to people who don’t meditate of the same age.
Meditation may increase longevity by protecting the brain and heart from the damaging effects of stress. One study reported that meditation and yoga help to prevent cellular damage caused by chronic psychological stress. It has even been suggested that meditation may slow cellular aging.
The causes and effects of emotional experience exist throughout the body and the brain, and as such they are deeply linked to physical and psychological stress.
Meditation enhances positive emotions and mood, and appears to make people less vulnerable to the stresses and upsets of daily life. Research shows that people who meditate are better at regulating immediate responses to negative stimuli and have reduced activity in the amygdala – a region implicated in response to threat. These findings reflect greater emotional resilience among people who meditate as well as less psychological distress and anxiety.
Mindfulness, which can be cultivated through meditation, is just one technique that can increase mental health and well being. Several therapeutic techniques have been based on these practices, such as mindfulness-based stress reduction and mindfulness-based cognitive therapy. These treatments have had success in treating anxiety and mood disorders. Original article here.
Considering that mediation can improve mental health, it is no surprise why so many doctors and health practitioners recommend this practice to their patients.
Many years ago, when I was very stressed and mentally drained working in a cooperate sector, I went to the local GP just to get some vitamins for my constant tiredness. I was surprised when the doctor asked me: “Do you meditate?” Amazing, isn’t it? Since then meditation has been my daily activity.
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