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Mental Health and Meditation

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Mental health describes a level of psychological well-being or an absence of a mental disorder. It can also be defined as an expression of emotions, as signifying a successful adaptation to a range of demands. Nowadays there are many practices, to improve mental health. Meditation is one of them, which is an intensely personal and spiritual experience. The desired purpose of each meditation technique is to channel normal waking consciousness into a more positive direction by totally transforming one`s state of mind. To meditate is to turn inwards, to concentrate on the inner self. If you regularly practice meditation, mental health problems should never be an issue for you and mental health as well as physical well-being will be enhanced. Benson (1976) has since scientifically proven that meditation, by way of deliberation and contemplation, is one of the safest practice in complementary and alternative medicine. Meditation not only focuses’ on replacing “bad” thoughts with “good”. Instead, offering respite from the monologue that is normally present.

Mental health is a state of physical and mental well-being. It is no more, than a description of learned behaviour that is socially adaptive and allows the persons to cope adequately with life (Strange, 1965) as well as includes a number of dimensions that is self-esteem, realization of one’s potential, the ability to maintain fulfilling, meaningful relationship and psychological well-being (Horwitzand Schied, 1999). Meditation is a technique to reach this condition. Meditation has many benefits and anyone who has tried even a single meditation technique will swear by it. Everybody meditates to bring peace and serenity into their lives, to be one with their inner selves, to heal and to improve their mental and physical health. Now, although meditation is universal, but these techniques may differ from one culture to another. Often different meditation techniques are suited to different personality types. An overview of various meditation techniques has been listed for reference:

A- Mantra Meditation

The mantra technique involves the conscious repetitions of certain sounds that appeal to the mind in order to achieve a meditative state. Mantra literally means ‘revealed sound’ or a combination of sounds that develop spontaneously. B- Trataka Meditation: The Trataka technique is one that has been followed by many religious systems, including Sufism and Christianity. C-Chakra Meditation: Chakras represent a higher level of energy manifestation and development of self. The meaning of the word ‘Chakra’ is a wheel. Each chakra represents the major nerve centers that branch off from the spinal cord, serving the major organs of the body. D-Vipassana Meditation: The word Vipassana means ‘insight’. It refers to the ability to see things as they really are, attained through a process of self-observation. It means identifying one’s own nature, recognizing the bad elements and consciously eliminating them from the systems. E-Raja Yoga meditation: This form of meditation takes the yogi (person who practices meditation) through to a higher level of oneness and a greatly ennobling experience.

If you regularly practice meditation mental health problems should never be an issue for you and mental health, as well as physical well-being, is enhanced. Earlier in order to link meditation and mental health problems together, one would have to try extremely carefully, as to the safety and effects meditating might have any problematic issue on an individual with mental health. Research, however, has since scientifically proven that meditation, by way of deliberation and contemplation, is one of the safest practice in complementary and alternative medicine. Its countless values have become acknowledged and practiced for thousands of years; as a result, more and more doctors are now found to be promoting the benefits of meditation to cure many stress-related illnesses. E-Medicine Live (2009) research found that a simple technique practiced for as few as 10 minutes per day can help you to control stress, decrease anxiety, improve cardiovascular health, and achieve a greater capacity for relaxation. The meditative technique called the “relaxation response” was pioneered in the U.S. by Harvard physician Herbert Benson in the 1970s. The technique has gained acceptance by physicians and therapists worldwide as a valuable adjunct to therapy for symptom relief in conditions ranging from cancer to AIDS.

There are many methods of meditation used to treat mental health problems, some differ greatly. Some require a person to close their eyes and be still, giving deliberation to the sensations felt associated with breathing, while others involve focusing on a particular object, such as the flame of a candle, or perhaps slowly reciting scripture passages. Regardless of the different techniques practiced, all hold to the unique principle of quiet thought and focused attention in order to reach the desired state of rumination. Yoga postures are also often combined with several of the meditation techniques, “moving meditation”, such as tai chi, bringing immense practical benefits to those who practice. Yunesian, Aslani,Vash, and Yazdi(2008)found that Transcendental Meditation is a mental practice to put the body and mind into a state of relaxation and rest. The method was shown to reduce anxiety and stress in previous reports. This study investigates its potential benefits in enhancing the mental health of an adult Muslim population.

During your time of deliberation and reflection, you will gradually start noticing a heightened awareness of your ability to focus your attention, resulting in the ordinary flow of thought slowing to a very calming and relaxed state of contemplation. With enough practice, you may also experience periods in meditation where thought seems to stop. Buddhists call this state “Samadhi,” meaning an altered state of consciousness, marked by both deep relaxation and heightened alertness. Mental Health V’s Meditation! Many psychotherapists now practice cognitive therapy, based on western medical tradition. Figuratively speaking, it is said that irrational beliefs promote depression, anxiety, obsessions, stress and other disorders relating to the mental health of a person. These negative and damaging thoughts and beliefs have a negative influence on our mental health. In this context, meditation emphasizes the immense power of the mind. Indeed not only the mind will be affected, so too will the physical body. Cognitive therapists encourage their patients to question their negative and irrational thoughts, giving deliberation, thus replacing “bad” thoughts with “good” thoughts. In our opinion, this is fine and certainly a step forward from negative thinking being in such control over the individual. However, the constant chatter remains, and constantly needs addressing.

As an approach to mental health, meditation is distinctly dissimilar from this form of therapy. Meditation does not focus on replacing “bad” thoughts with “good”. Instead, offering respite from the monologue that is normally present. You will quickly realize during meditation sessions, how certain thoughts may add to your sense of suffering. Instead of resisting such thoughts or having to alter them you can simply notice them and let them go.

If meditation to benefit mental health is of serious consideration to you, please be aware, that despite the proven beneficial results attained through meditating, there are many mental health disorders, all of which are extremely diverse and are at various levels. Those suffering from acute panic attacks or who are always extremely anxious should first consult their doctor. The reason for this is that meditation may, in fact, heighten their anxiety initially. People who suffer from schizophrenia or any other forms of psychosis should also consult a doctor, being introduced instead to some of the extremely beneficial yoga postures. That being said, meditation is being practiced by people with this condition, as long as the individual is emotionally stable. The research will cost you nothing and the benefits on offer may really surprise you.

The benefits of meditation are endless and certainly deserve your contemplation and consideration. Many successful business people, celebrities and sports professionals practice and enjoy the benefits of meditation. Numerous businesses promote and provide help and assistance to their staff with the benefits of meditation courses and because of this they gain an advantage over their competitors and create more profit. Research has scientifically proven that meditation is a safe and simple way to balance your physical, emotional, and mental state and its countless values have been known and practiced for thousands of years. More and more doctors promote the benefits of meditation to cure many stress-related illnesses. Every day most of us experience stress in many different ways and I believe many people are simply not aware of the benefits of meditation or of how much stress we actually hold on to. Normally life-threatening situations trigger off the stress response which enables us to act without contemplation and deliberation and survive intense situations using fast reflexes. When our bodies are exposed to a sudden threat we respond with the characteristic fight or flight reaction which is known as an adrenaline rush. When adrenaline and other hormones are released from the adrenal glands the pulse rate, blood pressure increases, our breathing becomes faster and the blood flow to the muscles increases. If we are in extreme danger these reactions are of great assistance and gain to us. We have inherited this survival response from our ancestors who faced many life-threatening situations every day. The same response is now triggered in our daily lives when we are in a traffic hold up or someone irritates us at work or we simply break a cup. If we do not confront the situation (and many are beyond our control) we end up being in a permanent state of stress.

One of the most important benefits of meditation is how it releases stress from our bodies. Meditation practiced regularly will lead you to a deeper level of relaxation and contemplation. If you want to be free of constant worry, pressure and stress the benefits of meditation can give you a life that is calm, peaceful, happy and relaxed. Even ten minutes of meditation a day will help to alleviate stress.

Now it may we conclude that if you practice regularly, the benefits of meditation will promote a sense of calm and control, you’ll feel far more relaxed and happy. Your ability to concentrate will be greater. You won’t become stressed about things and you’ll feel more peaceful and relaxed about everything. One of the greatest benefits of meditation is learning to go with the flow and things that used to irritate you before simply become insignificant and you reach the complete state of mental health.

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