There’s a lot of recent hype about the powerful effects the practice of meditation has on our wellbeing. Though just now being widely accepted as a scientifically proven method of the treatment of anxiety, stress management and a number of other physical and mental health conditions in Western culture, meditation has been recognized as a standard health practice in many other cultures for thousands of years. In the past 10 years or so there have been hundreds of studies on the benefits of meditation, from the research departments of Harvard to the American Heart Association and all of them have been able to prove that not only does mediation improve the function of the brain, heart and the body’s immunity but it drastically offers a wide range of psychological benefits.
A review of 163 studies published by the American Psychological Association found that Transcendental or Mindfulness Meditation had significantly strong effects in reducing anxiety, negative emotions, neuroticism and trait anxiety. The studies also concluded that along with the psychological benefits, participants were also experiencing higher than normal learning abilities, memory retention, Self-Realization and Self- Actualization. Mindfulness meditation also helped in reducing negative personality traits and stress as well as improving attention and mindfulness by slowing the heart-rate, reducing racing thoughts and increasing focus without other mental disruptions.
So what does all his mean and why is It Important?
Mindfulness is the ability to be present in the moment. By being present in the moment we are not focused on the past or future but are fully engaged in the now. Mindfulness can help relax the body’s fight or flight response by finding contentment and/or acceptance of one’s current situation. It is said that by living in the past we often experience depression and living in the future can often bring about anxiety, worry and unneeded stress. By living fully in the present moment, we are inviting peace and gratitude into our lives.
Self-Actualization or Realization is a key ingredient to Self-Acceptance. By having awareness and a sense Self-Realization we are able to see ourselves as we truly are and can eventually find acceptance in who we are in the present moment. Psychologist Abraham Maslow, originator of the “Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs” believed that Self- Actualization was the highest and healthiest point, psychologically, a person could reach. For years Western Psychologists explored numerous techniques to induce this state of mind for their patients. Could meditation be psychology’s newest “wonder drug” (without the drugs or side effects)?
Most importantly clients and/or patients involved in mediation as a treatment for mental health issues experience the feeling of self-empowerment and involvement in their own healing process. Meditation is something anyone can do at any time and it costs absolutely nothing. Though meditation is not a “cure all” it seems to be a very effective solution to reducing the symptoms of a variety of health issues but beware, side effects may include: peace of mind, positive thinking, self-fulfillment, compassion as well as an overall sense of calmness and serenity.
For more information on where to begin with incorporating meditation into your mental health care routine, contact an Elttila Counselor today!
Written by Michelle Meyers, MS, NCC.