MEDITATION IS NOT MYSTICAL OR ESOTERIC. WHAT DOES MODERN SCIENCE SAY ABOUT MEDITATION?
Reading the health sections of newspapers, checking up on an update on a health blog, or whether you’ve just received a new edition of a magazine. More often than not, someone who reads a lot of health articles/news will find that there are many studies of meditation done by science.
In the scientific community, it is now widely accepted that meditation has benefits to your health. Not only in your mind, but body and spirit.
It is said that since the 1950’s there has been hundreds, if not thousands of different studies on meditation.
In 2013, researchers at Johns Hopkins University, publishing in the Journal of American Medical Association, identified 47 studies that qualify as well-designed and therefore reliable. Based on these studies, they concluded that there is moderate evidence that meditation reduces anxiety, depression, and pain, but no evidence that it’s more effective than active treatment (drugs, exercise, other behavioural therapies).
The methods of research that have often been included in such studies have been ECG scans on participants as well MRI scans, recording of brain wave activity, behavioural studies, cognitive testing, and general health check-ups prior-to-post meditation.
Almost all, or even all studies have found that meditation has some sort of impact on our selves. It is not proven that meditation is better for mental health treatment than all the other alternatives such as therapy or medication, but it is generally thought to be of the same level of effectiveness.
There have been many books written on the subject of meditation and the scientific research that has been done to understand the real benefits that happens to us when we start meditating.
One of the most incredible studies ever done on meditation was done at Monash University led by Dr. Neil Bailey, a Neuroscientist; and an MRI analyst Dr. Chao Suo. In this study, the participant underwent an 8-week programme of regular meditation. He then went under every possible kind of test that Neil Bailey could think of. It showed that the participant had improved his level of memory, his reaction time and had exerted less brain activity whilst doing so. There were also changes in his brain structure – meaning that the grey matter parts of the brain had increased in density. The Denti Gyrus – where new brain cells are produced in an adult’s brain had increased by a staggering 22.8%. This means that when meditating we actually make our brains bigger in size!
REGULARITY AND TIME OF MEDITATION
It is advised by experts that we should exercise regularly, eat regularly and sleep regularly at the same intervals during the day. Meditation is no different. To really feel the effects and to make it more beneficial we should be setting a particular time in the day where we would be certainly available to meditate. Perhaps, first thing in the morning? How about right after breakfast? Straight after work? Maybe, right before you go to sleep? Whatever fits best in your schedule, try to stick to the same time every day.
Although if time allows, you can meditate more than once, or as many times as you wish, it is just important that you do not skip a session often, interchange the time of day too often, or to be lenient with yourself and let yourself become used to missing 5-10 minutes.
A lot of people use the excuse of not having enough time on their hands to meditate, and this is often true to people who have done it a lot in the past but have appeared to let it become a stale activity or have lost interest in it all together. The key is though, whilst some people would happily undergo an hour or two at a time, which can also be encouraged, it might be best for those who have less time to go for at least 5-10 minutes at a time as this all your mind, body and spirit needs throughout the day.