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Posts Tagged ‘emotions’

6 June 2013 Meditation as a medical key for success

By Holly Glen Gearhart
June 4, 2013
The Monroe Monitor
Meditation is an ancient art of controlled thought, practiced throughout the world for centuries.

Sometimes in the form of prayer, song or guided imagery, meditation has gained respect as an important medical component in addition to traditional medical procedures. From cancer treatment to addressing PTSD, medical studies reveal that slowing the mind during treatment can and does enhance traditional medicine methodologies.

Dr Yocum’s patient studies concluded that those of his patients who set aside time for meditating had more productive responses to daily stressors. In addition, he found that this method proved to lower heart rates, “… better hormonal changes and improved immune function; and that meditation, in combination with traditional medicines, appears to help arthritis patients” adding that, “People who meditate tolerate pain better.”

Simply put, meditation is a form of conscious and focused thinking, often directed with the use of music or spoken word.

Using controlled tests, Western medical doctors have found that the use of focused thought during treatments, “…can help with a host of health problems. Relaxing and quieting your mind by focusing on your breathing can reduce stress – even the stress that comes with arthritic flares,” according to David E. Yocum, MD, director of the Arizona Arthritis Center in Tucson.

Studies at the Mayo Clinic using biofeedback have proved that there is a tangible medical benefit for patients. They studied patients who needed to focus on making physical changes to achieve results such as reducing pain.

Stopping short of calling meditation a cure for illness, the Mayo Clinic states, “Meditation can give you a sense of calm, peace and balance that benefits both your emotional wellbeing and your overall health,” adding, “ Meditation can help carry you more calmly through your day and can even improve certain medical conditions.”

They suggest that, through meditation, you can clean your mental slate of the have-tos of everyday life, which promotes emotional wellbeing. As a result you gain perspective and build skills to manage stress by focusing on the present which, in turn, reduces negative emotions. The Mayo Clinic suggests meditation as a complementary tool for traditional medical care.

Relaxation and bodily responses are not the soul benefit of taking time to “smell the roses;” there can be a spiritual function, as well. Fred Hutchinson Cancer Care Clinic of Seattle utilizes the services of reverend Stephen King, PhD, among others, in their chaplaincy services.

Using the findings from Making Health Care Whole, 2010, defined spirituality as, “the aspect of humanity that expresses and seeks meaning and purpose and the way (to feel) connectedness to the moment, to self, to others, to nature and to the significant or sacred.”

One of the positive outcomes from spiritual connectedness is a stronger relationship with God (or the God of your choice), seeking love and care from the same and working with God to seek healing.

In the United States, the practice of meditation grew enormously during the 1960s, perhaps in part because The Beatles studied transcendental meditation in India with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.

Something as simple as ten minutes a day in quiet reflection is now an accepted way to begin a workday; some major corporations use meditation in team building. The onset of the technological revolution was part of this road to acceptance and may have found its way into corporate America after word spread that Steve Jobs was practicing meditation on a daily basis.

Some forms of meditation involve deep thought, breathing exercises and chanting. You don’t have to spend a lot of time on the practice in order to see results. Your day maybe filled to overflowing with little time for reflection. However, spending as little as five or 10 minutes sitting quietly, paying attention to your breathing and embracing positive feelings can be a successful tool in your survival box.

Continued research on the benefits of meditation is, “…tipping the balance in favor of implementing these therapies in the medical world to improve the lives of patients, including those who are undergoing cancer treatment. Physicians and academic researchers finally have the science to understand the connection between the brain and the immune system, emotions and disease,” said Dr. Esther Sternberg, a National Institutes of Health senior scientist and author of  The Balance Within: The Science Connecting Health and Emotions.

The supporting evidence is coming from such places such as the Fred Hutchinson Center, where scientists are studying measurements and testing the value of meditative therapies.

These measurements are an important component, according to Dr. Karen Syrjala, head of Biobehavioral Sciences at the Hutchinson Center. “If we expect that psychological or behavioral strategies will have health outcomes, we must be able to show the pathway or mechanism through which that occurs,” she said.

 

15 June 2012 Meditators more aware of ‘uh-oh’ moments

by Michael Kennedy
Futurity.org
June 7, 2012 14:21

Willpower or self-control may be sharpest in people who are sensitive and open to their own emotional experiences, says psychologist Michael Inzlicht. “Willpower, in other words, may relate to emotional intelligence.” (Credit: “woman meditating” via Shutterstock)

People who meditate do better on tasks that require self-control because they are more open to their own emotions, new research finds.

For psychologists, self-control or “executive control” is the ability to pay attention to appropriate stimuli and to initiate appropriate behavior while inhibiting inappropriate behavior. It’s what keeps you studying when you’d rather be watching TV, or lets you force yourself outside for a morning run rather than turn over and go back to sleep.

“These results suggest that willpower or self-control may be sharpest in people who are sensitive and open to their own emotional experiences. Willpower, in other words, may relate to ‘‘emotional intelligence’,” says Michael Inzlicht, associate professor of psychology at the University of Toronto.

Previous work has found that people who engage in meditation show higher levels of executive control on laboratory tasks. But it’s never been clear why, says PhD student Rimma Teper, a co-author on the paper.

Most meditation traditions emphasize two major practices: awareness of the present moment, and acceptance of emotional states. It was possible that the practice of maintaining awareness of the moment strengthened executive control. But the researchers suspected emotional acceptance played a bigger role.

In a paper scheduled for publication in Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, they looked at something called the Error Related Negativity (ERN)—an electrical signal that shows up in the brain within 100 ms of an error being committed, well before our conscious minds are aware of the error.

“It’s kind of like an ‘uh-oh’ response, or a cortical alarm bell,” Teper says.

For the study, participants were asked about their experience meditating, and took tests that measured how mindful they were of the present moment, and also how aware and accepting they were of their emotions.

The participants were then hooked up to an electroencephalograph and given something called the Stroop test. In the test, participants are shown the name of a color written in letters of a different color—for instance, the word “red” spelled in green letters. Participants are asked to say the color of the letters. The test requires them to suppress the tendency to read the word, and instead to concentrate on actual colors.

Meditators were generally better than non-meditators at the test, and also had generally stronger ERN responses. Looking further, the best performers were those who scored highest on emotional acceptance, and that mindful awareness—the more cognitive aspect of mindfulness–had less to do with success on the test.

The ERN may have a motivational or affective component—in other words, it gives you a bad feeling about failing at a task, and the feeling may motivate you to do better. Because meditators are more aware of their feelings, they may pick up on that feeling more quickly and use it to improve their behavior, Teper says.

“Meditators are attuned to their emotions. They’re also good at regulating their emotions. It fits well with our results.”

29 September 2011 ‘Meditation can counter neurological diseases’

Sep 24, 2011
Daily News & Analysis

Meditation, spirituality and a proper diet could be just the panacea for neurological diseases, said renowned Jaipur-based neurologist, Dr Ashok Panagariya.

Panagariya was delivering a lecture on ‘Living larger, living happier: A journey from clinical neurology to the complexities of brain and mind’ at the 19th annual conference of the Indian Academy of Neurology (IAN) held at city-based Marriott Hotel and convention centre on Friday. Panagariya, who is the head of department of neurology, SMS Medical College, Jaipur, is also the president of IAN. In his interesting lecture, Panagariya explained how individuals could relax their minds and function amid stressful conditions of life to keep neurological diseases at bay.

According to the doctor, increasing stress coupled with smoking and drinking habits of people has given rise to diabetes and hypertension that in turn has given rise to neurological diseases. “However, science is probing how individuals can control their minds to become stress-free and prevent and cure diseases,” Panagariya said.

Citing examples of Valmiki, Kalidasa and others, Panagariya described how an individual can anchor his mind through meditation and spirituality to live a healthy life.

“Spirituality and meditation strengthens several important parts of the brain. These regions are associated with the emotions that a person feels. Besides yoga, music, playing golf and bridge, reading and meditation stimulates relaxation and pleasure and reduces stress,” the doctor said.

Speaking to DNA, Panagariya said, “Though medication is essential, studies have proved that every fifth human being is still succumbing despite medicines. Hence, it is important to explore paths beyond medicines for prevention and cure of diseases.”

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