Meditation: Effective for Treating Stress
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Nicole Beland uses her personal experience with meditation to support her argument that meditation can help fight depression and stress. She explains that recent scientific research is offering evidence that meditation can reduce stress, promote healing, increase immunity, and even make you smarter. According to an article on Health line, it is estimated that 1 in 10 people are affected by depression at some point in their life, and depressive symptoms occur naturally when one goes through a life struggle such as a loss of a loved one, medical issues, financial struggles, or loss of a job.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness Reports:
Beland reviewed studies that provide evidence about how meditation impacts the brain, making it stronger and even more efficient, and she reports that there is evidence that may even reverse the effects of aging. She noted that, “Richard J. Davidson, Ph.D., a neuroscientist at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, has found that experienced meditators produce more gamma brain waves. Gamma waves are associated with intense, clear thinking and heightened cooperation between various parts of the brain — if brain waves were gas, gammas would be the ultra-premium stuff. And high gamma-wave levels weren't limited to the time spent meditating, indicating that the subjects' brains had become conditioned to work better around the clock.”
In another study, Sara Lazar, Ph.D., a psychiatrist at Massachusetts General Hospital, put 20 subjects who had meditated for an average of 40 minutes a day for 9 years through an MRI. She found that their prefrontal cortexes — the part of the brain responsible for attention and sensory perception — weren't showing typical age-related thinning. "Just as the area of the brain associated with motor skills is thicker in athletes, the area of the brain associated with attention and sensory perception is thicker in meditators," she says. “
Meditation can decrease stress and anxiety which can improve mood, enhance the brain's ability to focus, may reverse aging, and can also improve overall health. An example is that long term stress produces a stress hormone called cortisol, and high levels of cortisol are linked with difficulty sleeping, weight gain, and a weakened immune system. Therefore use of meditation can improve health.
Mastery of meditation requires practice, but the benefits to meditation can be seen quickly. Meditation's benefits range from improving mood to decreasing stress and improving physical health. I believe that a key factor in having success with meditation is to learn the various forms of meditation - Trying different approaches can help to identify which approach works best for you, and since we are all individuals, some techniques might work better than others for you. There must also be a commitment to practicing daily. Meditation may not come naturally at first, but with practice, it can become second nature and be used to manage negative situations anywhere.
- Kim B.
I seem to be stressing more as I age, and I am not sure why - I had always felt that as I got older I would mellow out and relax more. However, I seem to have just replaced an old stressor with a new stressor and the stress goes on.
It sort of reminds me of when my wife and I were new parents. When our first child, a beautiful girl, came into the world, we were over the moon with pride and joy. Our stress was multiplied with her because she was premature and had to stay in the hospital neo-natal intensive care unit for over a month. She was our miracle baby.
Being a first time parent is scary enough with all the things to learn and the ever-present advice from everyone around you. For every piece of advice there seemed to be some one waiting in line to refute the first advice with their tip.
We struggled with neuroticism over germs and such. The right detergents, diapers, blankets, soap, and shampoos were researched and all of the books like, ‘What to know When You’re Expecting,’ had to be read. Days off and vacations had to be limited so that when the time came we had the extra time available. The ‘bug-out’ bag had to be packed and waiting at the door or even taken on trips in the car. All of this wackiness so that we could be the best prepared first-time parents ever.
Fast-forward through our pre-natal journey with our second child, a handsome boy. He came into the world with much herald and fanfare. We did most of the same preparations with him as our daughter exercising much less urgency and panic, having learned our lessons during the original foray.
By the time our third child, another beautiful girl, arrived we were as relaxed as about anyone could be. We just lived life knowing more of what to expect. We were daily surviving the first year and more with the ‘God made dirt and a little won’t hurt’ motto. Drop a pacifier, pick it up, brush it off or even blow it off and pop it back in.
We did care, and still do, however, it was not nearly as stressful the third time as it was the second, or especially as the first. Why? We learned that not everything was a Code Red hot-button issue.
Children begin learning at conception and continue to do so until they die. In fact we should learn, grow, and embrace change or just die, because that is the only way for us to advance individually, corporately or even as a society. Remember, that on some level we are all children and always will be.
To cope and communicate, my wife and I learned to practice corporate meditation and conversation. We call it ‘Couch Time’. At the end of our respective days we sit down, usually on the couch, with one another. The television is not turned on. No radio. The kids are allowed to be in the room, but they are not invited into the conversation. (Eventually they stopped showing up because they were bored with our topics.) We debrief, decompress, and contemplate both audibly and silently. We are closer as a couple and lack of communication can never be used as ammunition in a conflict. Not to mention, that we are one step ahead of the manipulation tactics used by our children.
Try it. You will like it.
Beland, Nicole, (March 14, 2006) Meditation: Fight Depression and Stress Retrieved from http://www.womenshealthmag.com/yoga/depression-and-stress?fullpage=1