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Archive for January, 2014

Meditation reduces Stress

Sunday, January 19th, 2014

meditation-image-16Researchers in China and at the University of Oregon found that integrative body-mind training, or IBMT, is successful in relieving stress. Individuals trained in IBMT demonstrated lower levels of stress-related emotions such as anxiety, depression, anger, and fatigue. These participants, who had previously shown higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol, exhibited enhanced performance of emotional and cognitive tasks after completing IBMT courses. This practice includes proper breathing techniques, improved posture, and the use of relaxing music and imagery in order to establish body-mind harmony, resulting in improved cognitive, emotional, and social behaviors. IBMT meditators displayed significant reductions in stress upon performing the practice on a regular basis.

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Reduces the Stressors that Lead to War

Saturday, January 18th, 2014

meditation-image-17The Journal of Conflict Resolution reported that when employed on a broad scale within a military context, transcendental meditation has the ability to reduce societal tensions that often lead to war. This meditative technique is known as invincible defence technology, or IDT, when used in a military setting. The program had clear positive effects on those who were trained in IDT. During the Lebanon War in the 1980s, IDT practices had a clear statistical impact on the population, demonstrating a significant reduction in war-related deaths and injuries. Researchers predict that this process could be used with any military, in any part of the world to facilitate prolonged peace in lieu of involvement in future wars.

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Defense through Peace

Saturday, January 18th, 2014

meditation-image-18The Pakistani Journal of Management and Social Science recently reported that transcendental meditation has the potential to reduce conflict in combat zones. Researchers propose the establishment of a “Prevention Wing” of the military, which involves training military personnel in transcendental meditation, better known as IDT in this setting. If big enough, groups of personnel who practice IDT twice daily are proven to reduce societal stressors that can cause conflict and result in war. The absence of these stressors, the study suggests, could mean the disappearance of tensions between different countries and other groups in conflict, including religious and ethnic groups. Consequently, through meditation, it is hypothetically possible to avoid a large-scale global conflict.

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Mindful Libido Boost

Saturday, January 18th, 2014

meditation-image-19While there are a plethora of products (pharmaceutical or otherwise) available to men to enhance sexual performance, there are very few enhancement products for female sexual performance. In a recent study, The British Columbia Center for Sexual Medicine found that mindful meditation practices helped to enhance libido and sexual satisfaction, particularly among women. The participants included 26 women who had sought treatment for low libido. The results of the study indicated a marked increase in participants’ libido after a meditation session. Meditation causes the body and the mind to go into a calm state, which likely helped the patients of the study enjoy the present moment and thus experience increased pleasure, all without the aid of any pharmaceuticals.

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Enhance Sex Life

Saturday, January 18th, 2014

meditation-image-20Meditation can improve women’s overall experience of sex, an article in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine reported. Researchers discovered that the soothing effect that mindful meditation has on many people – particularly women – helps tamper rapid thinking and higher anxiety levels that often inhibit the achievement of sexual satisfaction. The fact that mindful meditation can improve the quality of women’s sex life is yet another motivation for exploring mind-body techniques like yoga and meditation. An increased libido, combined with the other calming and healthy effects of meditation, will undoubtedly have a positive effect on the well being of those who practice it.

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Better Sex through Better Focus

Saturday, January 18th, 2014

meditation-image-21A study conducted by Gina Silverstein and colleagues at Brown University found that mindful meditation has the potential to help people hone in on their sexual sensations, leading to a more fulfilling sex life. The group of participants, made up of 30 women and 14 men, participated in a 12 week meditation course. Throughout this period, subjects were shown a series of photos that ranged from neutral to erotic in nature and then asked to rate their levels of sexual excitement. As the meditation program continued, the participants became aroused by the erotic photos more quickly. These findings demonstrated that meditation helps people learn to focus on the present moment, allowing them to experience sexual pleasure more intensely.

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Brief Transcendence

Saturday, January 18th, 2014

meditation-image-22Nadia Webb for Scientific American explains that meditation and orgasms have similar effects on the brain. Webb notes that different parts of the brain are shut off momentarily during orgasms as well as during meditation. Even though the parts of the brain that shut off during these two processes differ, they both achieve a similar effect of leaving the subject decentralized from themselves and the physical environment. Meditation allows a person to completely forget the outside world and focus only on the here and now. Similarly, an orgasm facilitates an individual’s brief escape – or transcendence –from the preoccupations of everyday life.

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Becoming the Self

Saturday, January 18th, 2014

meditation-image-23Nadia Webb for Scientific American writes that orgasms and meditation affect the brain similarly in terms of reducing self-awareness; but in two markedly different ways. Meditation offers practitioners with a relief from self-preoccupation, which generates a significant boost in happiness measured through increased activity in the brain’s Left prefrontal cortex. Tibetan Buddhist monks actually demonstrate a significant spike in this area when performing compassion meditation. Cognitively speaking, meditation tends to help one escape the body mentally, whilst an orgasm makes it more in tuned with the body on a physical level. Webb believes that avoiding self-awareness, if only for a brief moment, is an under-appreciated practice.

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Increased Compassion towards Others

Saturday, January 18th, 2014

meditation-image-24The mind, body and spirit are all interconnected, and a compassionate attitude is an integral part of this connection. A study published in the journal Emotion indicated that practitioners of loving-kindness meditation have an increased positive connection towards others, allowing meditators to be more grateful and selfless in their everyday interactions. Researchers explain that this form of meditation trains the mind to focus on compassion and positive thoughts towards others, strengthening individuals’ sense of social connectedness in the world. Other well-being benefits of meditation include better concentration, which means a better connection to the world, better sleep, which leads to a more promising waking life, and a longer life coupled with meaningful connections with others.

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Greater Spiritual Empathy

Saturday, January 18th, 2014

meditation-image-25Researchers at the University of Wisconsin Madison found that those who meditate have higher levels of activity in the region of the brain known as the insula, which controls feelings of empathy and emotional understanding. Being kind to each other is now thought to be a learned technique triggered by the brain’s reaction in areas responsible for compassion towards the emotions of others. The study suggests that meditation can train the brain to enhance an individual’s capacity for empathy. The more one meditates, the more one becomes inclined to have feelings of open kindness towards strangers. In an often disconnected modern world, the study suggests, the power of empathy can be a driving force for interpersonal connection and individual spiritual growth.

 

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Cultivating Kindness

Saturday, January 18th, 2014

meditation-image-26Antoine Lutz and Richard Davidson conducted a study at the Waisman Center for Brain Imaging that found that compassionate meditation has the potential to cultivate spirituality through kindness and benevolence in individuals. The study involved 16 master meditators and 16 novices who were exposed to sounds of emotional distress, including a child crying. Researchers documented higher activity in the brain areas associated with benevolence among the experienced meditators, while the novices demonstrated much lower activity in those areas. Those trained in this form of meditation are able to extend the feelings of love and compassion that they have for family members towards strangers, cultivating their capacity for spiritual kindness towards all. Lutz and Davidson foresee the wide-reaching benefits of the study, proposing that compassionate meditation could possibly be used to combat depression.

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Greater Levels of Spirituality and Transcendence

Saturday, January 18th, 2014

meditation-image-27Brick Johnstone of the MU School of Health Professionals has suggested a link between transcendental or spiritual experiences and decreased activity levels in a certain area of the brain, which can be achieved through meditation. This new finding indicates a stronger connection between achieving a selfless state and conditioning the brain to maintain lower levels of activity. The study focused on the increased level of spiritual experiences among people with brain injuries, but found that a conscious effort to train the brain through meditation or prayer had similar spiritual effects. Meditation is thus a primary avenue to achieve a connection with things beyond the self, Johnstone notes.

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Improves Irritable Bowel Syndrome Symptoms

Saturday, January 18th, 2014

meditation-image-28A study published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology reported that mindfulness meditation can be used to improve the symptoms associated with irritable bowel syndrome. Mindfulness meditation helps treat stress-related problems and physical pain, including the pain experienced from IBS-related symptoms. The study, conducted by researchers from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Florida State University, followed participants suffering from IBS who practiced mindfulness meditation techniques over a three-month treatment period. At the completion of treatment, participants saw significant improvements in their IBS symptoms, including reduced pain and better quality of life. Over time, mindfulness meditation is expected to have long-lasting benefits on those diagnosed with IBS.

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Reduce The Risk of Developing Shingles

Saturday, January 18th, 2014

meditation-image-29Researchers from UCLA’s Neuropsychiatric Institute reported that practicing Tai Chi improves areas of the immune system that help reduce the risk of developing shingles. Certain types of behavior such as Tai Chi can positively impact the immunity that helps protect against shingles. With age, the immune system weakens and becomes more susceptible to diseases such as shingles. The immunity-boosting effects of Tai Chi were tested in a study where participants practiced Tai Chi in a 15-week program. At the end of the program, researchers found that the immunity factors involved in preventing shingles had increased by fifty percent among the participants, proving Tai Chi an effective method to help prevent shingles.

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Strengthens Immune System of Older Adults

Saturday, January 18th, 2014

meditation-image-30According to one UCLA study, meditative Tai Chi noticeably improved the immune systems of older adults, helping protect against shingles. Participants in the age range of 59 to 86 practiced Tai Chi for twenty-five weeks and received a vaccine against the shingles-causing varicella zoster virus. Together, Tai Chi and the vaccine were effective in improving the immunity of these participants. At the end of the program, the immunities of these participants reflected those of a much younger, middle-aged group. By practicing Tai Chi, older adults can strengthen the areas of their immune system associated with protecting against shingles, potentially avoiding shingles-related health complications later in life.

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Promotes Cellular Health

Saturday, January 18th, 2014

Man-Meditating-at-SunsetResearchers at the University of California at Davis and the University of California at San Francisco have established a link between increased cellular health and meditation. Theirs is the first study to suggest such a link, indicating that the positive well-being derived from regular meditation causes an increase in the enzyme that contributes to cellular health. By learning how to better cope with stress and maintain a sense of well-being, meditators seem to trigger the growth of the telomerase enzyme, which is associated with the prolonged health of cells. Researchers were able to trace this increased enzyme growth to meditation’s effects on individuals’ levels of neuroticism and perceived self-control through enhanced mindfulness.

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Slows HIV Progression

Saturday, January 18th, 2014

meditation-image-32UCLA researchers found that practicing mindfulness meditation slowed the progression of HIV in a group of HIV-positive patients. The AIDS-causing virus, HIV, targets CD4 T cells, the cells that make up the immune system. HIV gradually kills these cells, therefore weakening the immune system. HIV patients are also particularly susceptible to stress, which contributes to the loss of CD4 T cells. Mindfulness meditation helps reduce stress in HIV patients by teaching them to focus on the present moment, as opposed to dwelling on the past or worrying about the future. Through improving HIV patients’ stress-coping capabilities, mindfulness meditation can slow the progression of HIV and promote a healthy mental outlook.

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Prevents Cancer by Strengthening DNA structures

Saturday, January 18th, 2014

meditation-image-33According to Dr. Isaac Eliaz, a medical doctor and mind-body expert, regularly practicing meditation is an effective way to reduce the risk of developing cancer. Meditating on a regular basis is one of the easiest and most natural ways to protect against developing cancer. Regularly practicing meditation helps to repair a part of DNA structure called telomeres, which becomes shortened with age, chronic stress, and poor health. Regular meditation improves the ability to handle stressful situations and promotes psychological stability, causing increased DNA activity in the corresponding zone that protects the ends of telomeres from weakening and shortening. As a result, this reduces the risk of developing cancer and other health-related issues. Regular meditation further enhances this cancer prevention process.

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Helps Cancer Patients Stay Resilient during Treatment

Saturday, January 18th, 2014

meditation-image-34American Cancer Society journal CANCER reported that many cancer patients practice complementary methods such as meditation during treatment. In one study, cancer survivors were asked if they had used any of the nineteen complementary methods during their treatment. According to the survey, one of the complementary methods patients found effective was meditation. 15% of participants in the study reported using meditation to help them get through the cancer treatment process, with prayer and spiritual practice, relaxation, and nutritional supplements among the methods used. The effectiveness of complementary methods could be associated with the cancer type being treated, as breast and ovarian cancer survivors appeared to benefit more from these methods.

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Promotes Health in Breast Cancer Survivors

Saturday, January 18th, 2014

meditation-image-35The American Cancer Society found that Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) has improved the health of breast cancer survivors. MBSR combines techniques from meditation, yoga, and physical awareness methods to promote a healthy lifestyle among breast cancer survivors. In the study, breast cancer survivors practiced MBSR techniques, showing lower blood pressure, heart, and respiratory rates in their test results upon completion of the MBSR program. Participants, who were often inactive and dispirited post diagnosis, felt more in control of themselves – physically and mentally – after practicing MBSR. Researchers concluded that regularly practicing MBSR and other forms of meditation significantly improves the health and outlook of breast cancer patients and survivors.

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Increases Immune System Health

Saturday, January 18th, 2014

meditation-image-36The Mayo Clinic reported findings from a recent study indicating that meditative techniques associated with Tai Chi and yoga positively affect immune system health. Researchers note that the benefits of these mind-body approaches stem from their combination of key exercise elements and mindfulness techniques. The positive benefits of these mind-body treatments range widely from stress-reduction to improved sleep, better digestive health, and slowing the aging process. The stress-reduction qualities in particular, as well as lowered blood pressure, also result in the enhanced overall health and functioning of the immune system. The common elements in both yoga and tai chi include meditation, breathing, and different physical movements.

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