The Real Benefits of Meditation: A Report on Meditation and the Effects It Has on Humans
The Real Benefits of Meditation: A Report on Meditation and the Effects It Has on Humans
Table of Contents
Part I: Lowers High Blood Pressure
Part II: Deceases Depression
Part III: Increases Intelligence
Meditation is an art form that developed many centuries ago. Meditation requires a person to mentally relinquish all thoughts, and be in the present state. Doing this requires much patience and practice, but once one is able to reach a meditative state, the benefits are numerous. What started as an Eastern spiritual practice has not become mainstreamed in the Western world as well. Once one can reach his/her meditative state, the mind can actually heal the body. The mind is a powerful tool that humans possess, but one that is not harnessed for the healing potential that is capable of producing.
Not only will this paper address the benefits of meditation, but it will define it, explain the controversy surrounding it, and provide ways to get the most out of the practice. It is a practice that trains the body and mind to work together, and provide optimal health to individuals who meditate. Meditation is something that can include the entire family. It is something that all ages can benefit from.
The practice known as meditation dates back to over five thousand years ago. Being depicted in Indian scriptures discovered many years later, and very popular amongst the Eastern cultures, it was obvious to the Asian civilization that meditation could truly change a person for the better. Meditation was first developed as a way of “going within yourself” to discover the meaning of life, and was more for religious purposes than anything else (Ayammie 1). While in this meditative state, people started to take note of a feeling of awareness that brought happiness and calmness to those who could successfully achieve this level. What was evident to the East, did not seem so important to people on the other side of the world. Meditation did not spread to the West until thousands of years later, finally making its mark in America in the mid-twentieth century. Though meditation finally did catch on to the West, it is still doubted by many if any actual benefits can come from this practice.
Once the information that has been thoroughly researched and provided in this report is understood, it will be clear that meditation has not been around for centuries upon centuries just to suffice as a hobby. Meditation is an art and practice that should be given credit to by being talked about more in books and magazines, as well as being used in the education system even as early as elementary school. Getting the facts out about the benefits of meditation is essential to creating a happier and more structured civilization. Some of the many benefits that come along with practicing meditation on a regular basis are lowering blood pressure, reducing depression, and increasing ones concentration and intelligence. Now is as good of a time as any to finally promote this aged old practice to all of those suffering from health conditions, and to let people everywhere finally take advantage of the benefits this exercise for the mind has to offer.
This report will include further detail on the background of meditation, the results of the research, discussion of the results, and recommendations.
To decipher whether mediation truly shows results, the author searched through the databases as well as on the web. One hundred and fifty four results came back discussing the topic. Most of the articles studied the results of mindfulness meditation on ones’ mental, physical, and emotional health, and others briefly mentioned the easiness and simplicity of the act. After finding legit articles through the databases the next step was sorting through to find trusting sites over the web. The sites found through surfing the internet all seemed to be scholarly journals that had been accredited. These journals contained studies that had been scientifically conducted.
Results of Study
Part I: Meditation and Lowering Blood Pressure
According to the NHLBI, high blood pressure is one problem that over fifty million adults suffer from in the United States alone (Prashant 47). Being such a common health issue, the findings of this research are astonishingly beneficial to all of those who currently suffer from this increasing condition, especially those who lack health insurance. A study was recently performed at California’s West Oakland Health Center involving one hundred participants age fifty-five or older (Prashant 47). Those who performed transcendental meditation, a form of meditation that involves repeating a word or phrase while sitting down and closing the eyes, every day for three months, had an overall drop in systolic pressure (the higher number in a blood pressure reading). The other group in the study was, instead, counseled on lifestyle changes such as losing excess weight, cutting back on salt, and exercising more. The group who got counseled had eleven points more on their systolic pressure than those who performed meditation. The current cure being given to help lower one’s blood pressure is being counseled on changing his/her day to day choices , but this study makes it clear that encouraging meditation instead could not just lower blood pressure, but possibly save lives.
Part II: Meditation Decreases Depression
Meditation has been proven to reduce depression is many people. It is so beneficial in doing this that meditation is a popular practice in many prisons and hospitals, where depression can be very common. Studies conducted at Charles Drew University tested various people with a standard depression test and used the people who tested positive in this test for the study (Trainsky n.p.). They told the people being tested to practice a simple meditation technique and afterwards tested them again which showed that the depressed symptoms dropped by forty-eight percent. Over eighteen million men and women suffer from depression in the United States, according to Hector Mayes, PhD and professor at UCLA. Being able to use meditation instead of medication gives big hopes to all who are suffering from this unfortunate illness.
Part III: Meditation Increases Intelligence and Improves Concentration
Using MRI scans, neuropsychologists have discovered that the brain circuits involved in paying attention inside a regular basis mediator show greater activity than someone who does not use meditation, causing them to conclude that practicing meditation can alter the structure of the brain, and thus increase intelligence (Grossman n.p.). The longer someone has been practicing meditation in his/her lifespan, the thicker some parts of his/her brain are. “Insight meditation” is the type of meditation used that proved to work in thickening these brain parts. During insight meditation, a person is more inclined to focus on the actual noise or feeling he/she is experiencing instead of thinking about it. Encouraging meditation could help those who are experiencing depression with controlling it, and then decreasing in completely. Using meditation is not only drastically healthier on people over medication, but does not have the negative side effects that come with taking prescribed meds.
Discussion of Results
What can be concluded through this research is that using meditation as a daily practice can only benefit a person. In emotional, mental, and physical ways, meditation comes through as an aid with many issues and illnesses most people face in life. Multiple studies have been done by some of the most well-known doctors and researchers there are, and they all come back with positive results about the practice. Today, meditation is given out as a cure for emotional illnesses, like depression and physical problems like high blood pressure, instead of medication. Practicing meditation early in life can help eliminate health problems later on down the road. Promoting meditation to the younger group is important in saving generations facing common health problems that could possibly be reversed.
Once started as a religious practice, meditation had advanced through the ages. This timeless practice should be used by anyone facing any kind of mental illness or physical problem. By helping to relieve so much stress in people, it is easy to understand why it is has been around for so long. Meditation should not be overlooked; it should be talked about and encouraged through books and magazines that everyone has access to. Starting meditation in schools could even prove to have a positive impact on learning in children, and possibly assist in preventing stress or blood pressure issues in the future.
Appendix: Works Cited
Ayammie. “Where Does Meditation Come From?” Meditation Information Article (2010): 12-16. This online article discusses where meditation came from and how it has differed over the years. It depicts the timeline starting with the discovery of Hindu engraftments and then leading up to being used by Buddha. This article gives the ins and outs on who has used meditation over the years. This writing also shows how different meditation was when it first started out for religious reasons.
Grossman, Paul “Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction.” Journal of Psychosomatic Research 57 (2004): 35-43. This journal explains a study done to test the brain at the time meditation is being done and compares it to before and after it is practiced. It gives detail about mindfulness-based meditation, depicted how focusing on ones’ breath can calm down a person in other aspects of their life. The study resulted in concluding that MBSR can assist people with their clinical and non clinical problems. This article proves that the many different types of meditation that are available can suffice as medication without actually having to put anything in your body.
Kaul, Prashant “Meditation Acutely Improves Psychomotor Vigilance.” Behavioral and Brain Functions 2010: 47-55. Academic Search Complete. Nov. 2010.Web. This article puts meditation benefits to the test trying to prove the theory wrong. Many claim that meditation has benefits, but in this article it is backed up. The end result of this study is that meditation was proven to decrease the need for sleep. This article states that meditation does show to have at least a short term benefit on humans if not more.
Lettus, Dodi. “Breath and relax!” Library Journal 1 Sept. 2010: 30-32. Academic Complete Nov. 2010. Web. In this article there are many positive things discussed that show how meditation benefits a person and can be used as a stress reliever. To achieve the state of meditation one needs to incorporate many techniques. Increased awareness and focus are some things mentioned in this article. This increased behavior helps to put ones’ mind to work, and improves the minds attention.
Patchett, Ann. “Happiness is a Coice” Prevention April. 2010. Academic Complete Dec. 2010. Web. The main focus in this journal article is that happiness can be achieved so simply. To notice a difference from meditation just briefly sitting in silence, meditating, for 15 minutes a day can change a person drastically. Performing mental exercises can be just a important as physically exercising. Working your mind is important to progression. Keeping your mind clear and stress free can b e as simple as sitting in silence.
Trainsky, Al. “Calm, Cool, Collected A Meditation Primer.” Inside MS Winter 2002: 24. Academic Search Complete. Nov.2010. Web. This article discusses a woman who lived an extremely stressed life. She tried meditation and it really worked for her. There are medical studies proving the benefits in this writing. This specific case about the woman is broken down into detail. Being able to hear a woman’s case in detail really shows how meditation works.