It is not just a trend, but studies shows that meditation can help a lot of problems in our lives. We can see around us a World which is bigger, full of innovation, studies, evolution, but more depressed.
There are so many people who are using anti-depressants, drugs, but the root of the problems is still there. So what can help to detox our DNA and Mind and to have a happier life? Meditation seems to be one of the biggest help in this issue.
According to World Health Organisation’s (WHO) report, more than 300 million people in the world are suffering from depression and anxiety.
Being a trend or not, nowadays, but we know that meditation was practiced from thousands of years. Meditative state, relaxation exercises were something “normal” in so many cultures and also religions. The biggest help of meditation was the effectiveness to our brain. The brain is something that attract everything, even our belief system is based on our brain and mind-set, and it is connected to our emotions. The the latest scientific studies shown and concluded how and if meditation can literally change our brain, our DNA and our overall health.
The studies shows that the positive effects of meditation can be:
– Improving Attention & Focus
– Anxiety Attenuation
– Mental Wellbeing
– A help in depression
– Strengthens Immune System
– Increases Grey Matter in Brain
– Pain Reliever
– Improves Heart Health and balances the Circulatory System
– Prevents Inflammatory Diseases
– Changes DNA
– Strengthens and Changes the Brain Structures
What Harvard says:
Several studies and clinical trials have been carried out that have explored how a mindfulness-based meditation approach can be used to treat and manage depression. Benjamin Shapero, an instructor at Harvard Medical School (HMS) and a psychologist at Massachusetts General Hospital’s (MGH) Depression Clinical and Research Program is working with Gaelle Desbordes, who is also an instructor in radiology at HMS and a neuroscientist at MGH’s Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging and they have found some amazing results.
The Harvard Meditation Research Study
- Two Groups Of Patients: Control (Does Not Meditate) | Experimental (Undergoes Meditation)
- fMRI Scan of Both Groups (Brain Scans Based on Emotional Stimulus)
- 8 Week Mindfulness Meditation Course (For Experimental Group)
- fMRI Scan of Both Groups (Brain Scans Based on Emotional Stimulus)
- Compared Results of Both Groups
fMRI scanning will not only takes a picture of our brain, as an MRI, but it also records brain activity during the scan. In 2012, Desbordes showed that changes in brain activity lasts even when people are not meditating. This means the effects of meditation on the brain are long lasting.
Find here the full research: Harvard research
Our World is changing continuously, our inner-world and outer-world, as well. We all would like to have Inner Peace and to reflect this outside and to bring peace and harmony to the World. We all have these capacities, but why don’t we use it? As we know that from Asia, to America every single ancient culture had something to do with meditation and mindfulness, starting from Zen mediation used in Zen Buddhism, or Tibetan Buddhism, or other modernized meditations which has their roots in ancient cultures and belief systems – always helped people to be in peace with themselves and in our modern society will help more. This is why meditation is something which needed more research and study. There is the ancient experience, but human nature of modern society need to study and question everything.
Personally, I’ve met so many people who are meditating at a daily routine. Of course we have seen also that those people are little bit different than the random ones in our modern world. The truth is that our world is open to meditation and healthy lifestyle, we need and want to change our system and our perception of life and existence.
What those people experienced, and what they know beyond the studies and researches it is theirs and lots of them will share with others through Yoga and meditation classes, teaching mindfulness and bring wellness and happiness to other people’s lives, too.
Our friend and colleague shared with us some benefits she had gained through her life experiences, as she stated:
“Yoga and meditation are my way of living. Nowadays, stress and pain are affecting our energy level and wasting our vital force in the highest degree. In order to increase our mood, our focus, our health and the level of our well-being, it’s recommended to experience yoga and meditation as a way of living our life. According to Patanjali, “Yoga is the suppression of modifications of the mind/ the ending of disturbances of the mind.” Yoga has many physical benefits and but for me is a precious tool for increasing the energy, the prana into the body.
While I am practicing yoga, I feel the freedom of life, the strong connection between body and mind which keeps me centered during the day. Yoga practices are like refilling the energy back into my body. Personally, I feel that yoga empowers me to pursue my dream, and enjoy in a deeper manner the abundance of life.
Meditation is a way to recover the default mode of our brain. Mediation and yoga have beautifully improved my life. They are a bridge for reconnecting to the Source of the Joy, Peace, Love and the Light of my Heart.”
Yoga and meditation provide equanimity, the necessary inner strength for dealing in a proper manner with all the aspects of life. “ – Daniela Bystron Mihalciac
Daniela is practitioner of Heartfulness Meditation. Watch below how to practice this meditation:
Find more about Daniela:
The Almond Shaped Emotions Processor
The Amygdala is the part of our brain that is responsible for emotions processing and memory. A highly active amygdala would result in a person experiencing high symptoms of depression and stress.
Stress is the body’s response to a “Fight or Flight” situation and results in unwanted associated symptoms like headaches, upset stomach etc. The Relaxation Response is the opposite of the Fight or Flight response wherein the body secretes hormones that put us in a deep state of relaxation by engaging a part of our nervous system.
Desbordes and her team aimed to test if increased body awareness in the moment (interoception) can help participants break the cycle of self-rumination. It is extremely difficult for depressed patients to break from the cycle of self-rumination and let go of obsessive thoughts.
The results were promising. The group that received the 8-week mindfulness meditation therapy showed relatively inactive amygdala in response to emotional images. This suggests that the art of mindful meditation allowed people to detach from strong negative emotions relatively easily overcoming depression symptoms. Here is an image from the study:
The mentioned study is just one example of how meditation brings about physical changes in your brain. The Harvard Gazette in a story mentioned that from 11 clinical studies from 2002-2006, there were an astounding 216 studies done from 2013-2015. The number has only increased since then and a lot of meaningful insights have been discovered. These studies have shown preliminary results that suggest meditation can change the following parts of the brain:
- Amygdala [Emotions Processing]
- Cerebral Cortex [Stress Related Areas]
- Hippocampus [Learning & Memory]
- Prefrontal Cortex [Attention control]
- Parietal Lobes [Attention control]
- Limbic System [Process Emotions]
- Anterior Insula [Brings Emotions into Conscious Awareness]
Another study authored by Shirley Telles and team published in the Depression Research & Treatment journal explored how meditation can be used to manage mental health disorders resulting from trauma. While there are several substitute treatments like medicine etc. they bear undesirable effects, unlike Yoga and meditation.
Their research found similar results that confirmed Zen meditation causes changes in amygdala.
How about TAI CHI?
Researchers from the School of Psychology and Cognitive Science from East China Normal University found that a Chinese meditation technique called Tai Chi can over time reduce grey matter atrophy and thereby achieve successful ageing for elders. Their research showed that experienced meditators had higher GMV (Grey Matter Volume) of the thalamus and the hippocampus. Their research also revealed that high GMV results in improved emotional stability.
This means as soon as you will start meditation, you will have sooner benefits and will help in reducing aging process.
What about Relapse?
As the Scientific American published, that Mindfulness meditation can help alleviate depression and possibly anxiety
- 60% – With depressive episode will relapse
- 60% – 90% relapsed once will relapse again
- 95% – Three or more episodes will relapse
John Teasdale, a psychologist from the Medical Research Council (MRC) in Cambridge published a study in 2000 and concluded the potency of mindfulness as a preventive in patients who have relapsed three or more times.
So, we can conclude that regular meditation can reduce stress, improve attention and focus, can bring emotional stability, reduces anxiety, manages depression and changes the physical structure of the brain. However, mindfulness meditation has benefits beyond the brain that affect our biological health. The infographic shows all the currently researched and possible beneficial effects of meditation on the body.
Meditation & Pain
A study published in the Journal of Neuroscience in 2011 concluded that mindfulness-based meditation can relieve pain. Fadel Zeidan of Wake Forest University along with his team scanned participants brains as they received uncomfortably hot touches to their legs. Those who practised meditation reported experiencing less pain when they simply focused on their breathing. The study found that there was increased activity in the lower region of the brain that controls signals coming from the body as well as the executive centres that evaluate experience and regulate emotions.
As Daniela also said before, we need to practice as a Lifestyle, not just as an exercise or something from our outer world, meditation should be OUR WAY of LIVING.
To summarise, the latest research suggests that through mindfulness-based meditation, people can mitigate their perception of pain and alleviate symptoms of chronic pain. Daily meditation can make you stronger and more resilient to pain. Expert meditators can command such control over their bodies that they feel no pain at all.
What other benefits can we have through meditation?
- 9 Million people Died of heart diseases in 2016
- 31% of all global deaths
- 85% of these deaths were caused by heart attacks or strokes
- Cardiovascular Diseases (CVD) Costs likely to exceed 1 Trillion USD by 2035
- Economic Cost of CVD was 317 Billion USD in 2012
- $193 Billion Direct Expenses
- $123 Billion Due To Lost Productivity
A research found over 5 years, the group that meditated experienced a staggering 47% fewer heart attacks, strokes and deaths caused by CVD. Drugs that reduce cholesterol levels reduce the risk of life-threatening events only by 30-40 percent. Whereas, common blood pressure drugs reduce these outcomes only by 25% to 30%. Meditation has shown to be clearly more effective.
Cure your cold
- Those Who Meditated: Missed 76% Fewer Work Days
- Those Who Exercised: Missed 48% Fewer Work Days
- Cold Lasted on Average For Both Groups for 5 Dyas
- Control Group Experienced Cold on Average for 8 Days
- Level of Antibodies correlated with self-reported lengths of cold
This was found out through a new study published in the Annals of Family Medicine.
Ivan Buric, a psychologist from Coventry University’s Brain, Belief and Behaviour lab along with her team have found that a gene called NF -kappaB responsible (acts as an “on switch”) for many inflammatory diseases is affected by such meditative practices. They have published their research in the Journal Frontiers in Immunology where they have reported their findings.
Meditation showed that the gene responsible for triggering chronic inflammation and related diseases becomes less active. This means that meditation can bring changes in our DNA that can at least prevent if not fully cure chronic inflammatory illnesses.
A new study published by researchers from the Netherlands found that volunteers could be taught to control their sympathetic nervous system.
Once trained, all volunteers were exposed to toxins that would create flu-like symptoms. The group that practiced meditation showed signs of improved immunity and even produced higher inflammation-fighting proteins called interleukin-10. This is another example of the ability of the mind to cause physical changes in the body.
Research published in Frontiers in Psychology by a team from Tel Aviv found that adults with developmental dyslexia and ADHD made fewer errors when reading as an effect of a mindfulness-based stress reduction intervention
Michael Posner and Yi-Yuan Tang found in their latest research study that similar meditation practices increased performance on Raven’s progressive matrix which is a measure of fluid intelligence (the ability to identify patterns and solve novel problems)
Another study published in Frontiers of Psychology by researchers from the University of Rome and the University of Udine in Italy found that meditation may even improve creativity in certain manners and contexts. By practicing mindfulness meditation, people train to drop their predispositions and are hence able to perform well on tests that required new ideas, more flexibility, fluency and originality of response.
A Japanese study published in PLos One found that regular practice of mindfulness meditation results in higher job performance including higher work engagement, improved subjective job performance, and job satisfaction.
Based on Johns Hopkins University study, it is important to not think of mindfulness meditation as a magical technique that will cure all illnesses and solve all problems. It is a tool that is to be used correctly and regularly to benefit from its positive effects. If practiced regularly, it can definitely improve your wellbeing.
An article in the Scientific American discusses how meditation can even have undesirable effects. Philosopher Owen Flanagan, who is a fan of Buddhism and meditation said that many western Buddhists come off as passive-aggressive. Some studies even suggest that yoga and related meditation techniques can elevate your self-esteem to a level that it comes off more narcissistic than anything else…
I’ve met myself many meditation systems, I used so many tools, I practiced some of them long periods and years, from religion to progressive meditations, I’ve tried a lot. I have a clue about Tibetan Buddhism and I respect the Dalai Lama. At the Annual Meeting of the Society for Neuroscience in Washington, the Dalai Lama said that meditation is hard work even for him. He added that, if neuroscientists and researches could stimulate the same feelings he achieves by meditation artificially, he would be a volunteer for such an experiment.
For so many time science stayed away from meditation and researches in this field. As our world is more and more full of stress, more and more diseases and the mental problem appears, this is something that would be interesting and deserve to study more deeply. Maybe it would be also an answer to so many questions regarding “Who We Are” and our potentials.
I would love to add to this article that right now I am a practitioner of 5 Tibetan rites as a daily routine ( from more than 11 years), From 4 years I am student at Kryon’s School of Consciousness for the Ascension and I meditate between 1-2 hours, daily + Own developed 15 minutes Morning Meditation. Regardless of what researchers and studies would say, positive or negative, I know one thing:
Meditation helped me in many ways and many fields, not just in my health, and prevention, but also in my Career, Work and achieving new things. It is very provocative and challenging, I would say for a person who is meditating, “THE SKY IS THE LIMIT”.
The studies and research sources: cashkaro.com