Discuss and reflect health beliefs - Meditation Improves Health and Better Sleeping?
Meditation is where a person trains the mind or introduces a mode of consciousness as an end or to achieve some benefits or to allow the mind to recognize what it contains without it being identified with that content (Weiten, 2016). It involves turning one’s attention and mind inward and concentrating on one thought, idea, feeling or thing. In most cases, meditation has been culturally perceived as a way of obtaining inner peace and moving closer to God. Meditation has a number of health benefits:
Slows brain loss related to age: Studies have shown that those who engage in longtime meditation experience less age-related loss of brain tissue in comparison to those who do not meditate. The study which deployed a functional magnetic resonance imaging examined 100 women and men’s brains who had been meditating for about 20 years (Emet, 2013). The two groups indicated a reduction in gray matter with age but the longtime meditators had significantly smaller losses in the gray matter of their brains. In as much as meditation cannot eliminate age-related declines in diseases or thinking, the research proves that meditation protects the brain (Rakel, 2012).
Helps to relieve pain: Examinations on meditation effects reveal that longtime meditators experience less pain compared to non-meditators even though they showed higher levels of activity in the areas of the brain that are associated with the pain. With meditation, the pleasantness of stimulation of pain is highly reduced. This is not achieved by inhibiting an experience of pain but avoiding the brain from indulging in thinking processes that facilitate pain (Snowball, 2012). As for the case of chronic pain, there is normally a tendency of pain hyper-vigilance that in turn creates a stronger emotional reaction to the noticed pain. Meditation helps to reverse this situation.
Improves concentration: Meditation enhances attention and thus improves the concentration of an individual. Increased concentration increases the efficiency of an individual when multitasking (Rakel, 2012). Mindfulness enhances the better working of the human memory. Meditation among students has been linked to improved performance as students who engage in meditation have recorded higher scores in their tests. Meditation is important in building the concentration of an individual at a physical level as it aids in enhancing the communication of attention networks and limiting the level of interruptions that one would experience.
Helps in stopping the shifting of the mind: Through meditation, the brain region that is responsible for continuous shifts from one topic to another is controlled. This habit has been linked with poor mental health especially in cases where it is not controlled. Meditation lowers the level of activity in this part of the brain (Weiten, 2016). Wondering of the mind has been related to reduced levels of happiness as most of the thoughts in most cases tend to stress or rumination.
Meditation reduces the activity in the brain region that is connected with wondering thoughts referred to as the default mode network. This is the partial reason for the use of mindfulness as an important therapy for depression and anxiety for a very long time now. It could be for this reason as well, that meditation is a tool in the prevention and management of some physical health conditions (Emet, 2013).
Improves the quality of sleep: Research indicates that people who adopt meditation as sleep improvement strategy recorded greater improvements in the quality of their sleep as compared to those who deployed more structured plans (Alexander, 2011). Structured programs such as bedtime routines and alteration of poor sleeping habits yield significantly low results. This indicates that mediation is an effective strategy that can top up the list of appealing options that are required in fixing health risks and problems associated with low quality sleep.
Helps control addiction: Meditation is a fundamental tool in helping an individual in dealing with the various addictions including alcohol, cigarettes or any other drugs. It works by strengthening the self-control of the individual hence enabling him to have control over his senses and body desires. Meditation also helps in disconnecting an addict from craving sensations of the substances to which he is an addict. Through meditation, a person becomes less stressed of the problem he is undergoing and gives him an opportunity to focus his mind on the best mechanisms of helping himself out of the situation (Rakel, 2012).
In conclusion, meditation serves as one of the most powerful tools that if effectively used can help to a great extent in improving the quality of the health of an individual. From improving concentration, improving the quality of sleep, controlling addiction, slowing age-related brain loss to stopping unnecessary mind shift, meditation improves the quality of health. These it achieves by concentrating the sensations and thoughts of the various parts of the body towards a specific attention of the present.
Alexander, S. (2011). The Best Meditations on the Planet: 100 Techniques to Beat Stress, Improve Health, and Create Happiness-In Just Minutes A Day. Manchester: Fair Winds Press.
Benson, H. (2013). The Relaxation Response. Oxford: HarperCollins.
Emet, J. (2013). Buddha's Book of Sleep: Sleep Better in Seven Weeks with Mindfulness Meditation. New York: Hay House, Inc.
Rakel, D. (2012). Integrative Medicine. New York: Elsevier Health Sciences.
Snowball, K. (2012). The Detox Cookbook: Cleansing for food lovers. New Delhi: Allen & Unwin.
Weiten, W. (2016). Psychology: Themes and Variations. Washington: Cengage Learning.