Book Definition: A state of consciousness often induced by focusing on a repetitive behavior, assuming certain body positions, and minimizing external stimulation. Meditation may be intended to enhance self-knowledge, well-being, and spirituality.

In Your Own Words


  • A total relaxation of your body.
  • A way of excluding everyday problems and temptations
  • Breathing slowly, clearing your head of unwanted thoughts
  • Relieving stress and tension
  • When you are totally relaxed, focused on working on the inner you instead of the outer you.
  • A form of rest that can relieve stress, lower blood pressure and anxiety.
  • Repeating certain movements (such as breathing) and body positions to help minimize external stimulation
  • Buddhist priests practice this
  • It raises your physical, mental and emotional energy.
  • To utterly STOP thinking, not just zone out, but to block out external stimulation and "just breathe."
  • Often associated with spirituality and relaxation.
  • Changes brain wave patterns
  • Associated with positive emotions and the reduction of various signs of bodily arousal


Examples/Functions


  • Some people meditate to relieve the everyday stresses of life
  • Monks meditate in order to spiritually heal themselves and clear their minds
  • Asian and Pacific cultures use meditation as a religious practice.
  • Meditation can be done in certain Yoga poses.
  • Being in a deep state of relaxation
  • Some dancers meditate to become focused before a big competition
  • Some students meditate before taking an important test
  • Some use meditation as a way to see our true reality/true selves
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Summary


Meditation, similar to hypnosis, is more self-induced. It is mainly used to direct consciousness away from worldly concerns and temptations. Many use it to seek some form of spiritual enlightenment, create new insights, and clear their mind of stress or worried thoughts. Experienced mediators show changes in their brain-wave patterns. Researchers have also found that it produces frontal lobe changes which are associated with positive emotions. Along with positive emotions, studies have shown the meditation has a positive correlation with blood pressure and stress hormones. Meditation's subjective benefits, such as its power to bring new understandings and meaning to one's life, lie beyond the limits in which science can operate objectively.

The psychological benefits that meditation causes includes heightened creativity, decrease in stress, anxiety, and irritability, improved memory and in some cases it can cause increased happiness and emotional stability. Meditation done daily can increase problem solving abilities. Meditation can increase awareness of your true worth, making you more confident, self-accepting, and empathetic.

What Meditation Helps


  • Insomnia
  • Sanity
  • Addictions
  • Recovery
  • Positive energy
  • Self-acceptance
  • Confidence
  • Reach Spiritual Goals
  • Enhance Concentration
  • Click to view more examples

Multiple Choice Practice


Answer the following:

1) What does Meditation help?
a. Addiction
b.Confidence
c. Sanity
d. All of the above

2)Which of the following is an example of meditation?
a.Sitting still for an hour
b.Eating when you are stressed
c.Rhythmic breathing in a relaxed environment
d.Playing with a friend

3)Meditating daily is beneficial.
a.True
b.False

ANSWERS:
1) D
2) C
3) A

Research


An odd team of neuroscientist, Richard Davidson, and Buddhist monk, Matthieu Ricard, who was also once a scholar with a Ph. D. in molecular biology at the Pasteur Institute in Paris, came together with a goal to learn whether the study of trained meditators could possibly offer insight into the mechanisms of the brain function or new therapeutic approaches for psychology with the expectation that the 2500-year history of Buddhism and their deep understanding in the nature of the mind would turn up something very useful in the field of neuroscience. This made for a great pair because with most subjects it can be hard for them, misleading, and even sometimes bias to explain how they completed a task to a scientist conducting an experiment, but with Buddhist monks and their deep understanding in their own mind and self awareness, they can pass over information to a trained person monitoring a fMRI, MRI, EEG, or which ever brain observing device is used, much more efficiently.

Such an experiment has not yet occurred, but hopefully soon to be in the future. Only has a meeting between the Buddhist Monks and Western scientists taken place in a meeting at MIT, both Davidson and Ricard were present and many other highly regarded people, such as the Dalai Lama himself. At the meeting both sides, scientists and Buddhist Monks, compared notes and shared ideas on the topic. Don't not fret though, because this meeting has opened the eyes of many scientists, and Monks alike, and many are eager to test out several different theories they have, but it is much harder than it sounds to get well trained Buddhist Monks meditators, not only because of the lack of actual subjects, but the unwillingness of some to participate in such experiments for different reasons.

There are conflicting ideas between Western cognitive scientists and Buddhist Monk meditators, on what meditation truly is. We are taught, and most of western society believes, that meditation is a form of altered consciousness. Buddhists believe that the visible universe is an illusion of the senses, and the goal of meditation is to see things in their truest light. Some Buddhist are also claimed to be able to hold their attention on one idea or image for hours on end, or change their attention to 17 different things in the time it takes you to snap your fingers. From what Scientists are taught, this is deemed impossible to do, "because mental imagery uses the same brain areas that serve vision, and visual images fade quickly from the brain to prevent the appearance of smearing as our eyes move."

For now we can hope that one of these experiments will come to happen soon enough and give us knowledge that we would not have otherwise.



Video: Dr Peter Malinowski, founder of the Meditation and Mindfulness Research Group at Liverpool John Moores University, discusses the practice of mindfulness, it’s benefits and applications. He explains some of the research projects of the group, exploring the effects of mindfulness practice on cognitive ageing and healthy eating.
Barinaga, M. (2003). Studying the well-trained mind. Science, 302(5642), 44-46.


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