The Use of Meditation in Therapy Andrew Fecht Psychology 492: Advanced General Psychology Professor Dube June 22, 2011
MEDITATION Has existed as early as 7th century B.C. China (Murphy, Donovan, 2011). Defined as “"a family of techniques which have in common a conscious attempt to focus attention in a non-analytical way and an attempt not to dwell on discursive, ruminative thought" (Slade, 2010). It can involve relaxing the body and mind, focusing one’s attention on an object or thought for varying periods of time, or a state of alertness where the mind is unfocused but is ready to respond to any stimulus (Murphy et al, 2011).
Meditation is generally considered to be a type of spirituality because it is used concurrent with spiritual beliefs, although this is not necessary, additionally, prayer and participation in a religious service can bring about the meditative state (Lukoff, 2007).
PURPOSE Meditation can positively affect the lives of those that suffer from mental illness both physically and mentally.
WHY? The relaxation response one gets from meditation can help to deal with headaches, anxiety, hypertension, the release of tension, and general body aches (Murphy et al, 2011). It can help with cognitive functions such as receptivity, focus, attention, and with time, an increase of control over one’s feelings and emotions (Murphy et al, 2011). This could even lead to the patient noticing what they are thinking about and certain thought patterns that may need to be changed, as one example of the application (Slade, 2010). If the simple practice of mindfulness is embraced as a daily practice and utilized, the participant will be living moment to moment and will be more aware of their thoughts and feelings, which will lead to greater control over them (Slade, 2010).
STUDIES Study 1: The results showed that mental training can result in increased control over the distribution of limited brain resources and that “plasticity in brain and mental function exists throughout life and illustrates the usefulness of systematic mental training in the study of the human mind” (Slagter et al, 2011). Significance: Those with mental illness can train themselves to get through the trigger events or other hard times of their lives.
STUDIES Study 2: Showed “that “on the whole a personal, spiritual experience of a relationship with God helped build hope, a sense of divine support and love, the courage to change and to accept what cannot be changed, connection with faith communities, and supported calming practices such as prayer, meditation, religious ritual, religious reading, and listening to religious music” (Lukoff, 2007). Significance: Spiritual experience can help those with mental illness to have hope for the future, which will make it more likely they can succeed.
Studies Study 3: This next one found that patients and physicians both are realizing the importance of elements like compassion, faith, and hope in the healing process and meditation can assist in bringing this out and 76% of people admit to having religious or spiritual experiences (Culliford, 2002). Significance: Due to these statistics, I believe people will be very open to including meditation into their daily life in order to improve it.
WEAKNESSES The main argument against the main point of this is that there should be further research conducted. For example, it could be determined which styles of meditation work best with certain mental illnesses.
CLOSING Meditation is beneficial to all who participate. It can especially be utilized by those with mental illnesses to assist in making their lives more fulfilling and enjoyable. As previously stated, future research studies could be implemented to find out what types and styles of meditation work best for a particular mental illness. For example, the concentration type would be most beneficial for children or adults with ADD.
REFERENCES Murphy, M., Donovan, S., Taylor, E. The Physical and Psychological Effects of Meditation. Institute of Noetic Sciences. Retrieved on May 13, 2011 from http://media.wisdompractices.org/uploads/files/Meditation_Intro.pdf. Slade, M. (2010). Mental Illness and Well-Being: The Central Importance of Positive Psychology and Recovery Approach. BMC Health Services Research, 10(26). Retrieved on May 12, 2011 from http://www.biomedcentral.com/1472-6963/10/26.