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Essay Sample on Meditation

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Essay Sample on Meditation

  1. 1. Meditation Abstract Meditation has been valued for many decades. This is due to its healing, spiritual, and therapeutic qualities (Swami, n.d, p.2). Meditation can be described as a mental attention training that can awaken the mind and reveal the nature of reality (Brach, 2003, p.2). Anger, greed, and delusion are known to cause emotional upheaval (Chen, 1999, p.9). In addition, hallucinations, extreme mood swings and depression may disrupt emotions (Chen, 1999, p.9). These psychological effects of stress require therapeutic relaxation. This paper reviews research done on psychological effects of meditation. History of Scientific Studies on Meditation Meditation has been a major subject of study among scientific researchers. Research on meditation gained popularity in late 1990s but has been studied for the last four decades (Braboszcz et al., 2010, p.2). Studies on meditation have mainly focused on how the brain is affected by mental training. Recent scientific studies are on the view that meditation induces brain plasticity (Braboszcz et al., 2010, p.2). Meditation is believed to trigger consciousness and is thereby studied in consciousness researches (Braboszcz et al., 2010, p.3). Developments in medical technologies have raised popularity in neuroscience studies of meditation, as it is believed to have major impacts on the body and the brain (Braboszcz et al., 2010, p.3). The relationship between first-person experience and consciousness is also under focus by meditation investigators. In the early 20 th century, researchers examined electrophysiological responses and behavioral performances (Braboszcz et al., 2010, p.3). Since then, researchers have developed a neuro-phenomenology approach when studying meditation
  2. 2. (Braboszcz et al., 2010, p.3). Neuro-phenomenology assists in understanding consciousness and the gap between inherent human experience and brain neural dynamics (Braboszcz et al., 2010, p.3). Types of Meditation Meditation is a practice done globally is mainly an Asian tradition (Braboszcz, Hahusseau & Delorme, 2010, p.1). Soto Zen is one of the major meditation practices (Braboszcz et al., 2010, p.1). It is based on open awareness and mindfulness. In this type of meditation, a person sits while facing a wall. The eyes are usually opened while performing a Soto Zen meditation. Thoughts and emotions are observed in this type of meditation. A person should not cling to any form of thoughts and emotions when performing Soto Zen meditation technique. However, person should let go any thoughts and emotions and bring attention or focus on a present moment. Solving riddles is another method used in Soto Zen meditation. In this technique, riddles are also used. A person who can successfully solve a riddle may be able to forget thoughts and become conscious of the present moment. Vipassana meditation, now common in the West, is another major meditation technique (Braboszcz et al., 2010, p.2). In this type of meditation, a person observes his or her breath and the nosal area (Braboszcz et al., 2010, p.2). This form of meditation assists in developing focused and sustainable attention. The mind can wonder away due to thoughts. However, it can be brought back to attention by controlled breathing as per the Vipassana meditation technique. Practitioners of this meditation technique maintain attention by feeling the sensation in all body parts. It is usually hard to experience sensations in all body parts for a beginner. However, with time, a practitioner is able to feel the sensations in more body parts. Furthermore, a practitioner is usually advised to avoid cravings for specific types of sensations in this meditation technique.
  3. 3. The most popular meditation technique is known as prayer or mantra meditation (Braboszcz et al., 2010, p.2). It is present in many traditions such as Hinduism, Tibetan, Sufism, and Buddhism (Braboszcz et al., 2010, p.2). In this form of meditation, mantras are recited. A mantra can be a mystical or religious sound, poem or word (Braboszcz et al., 2010, p.2). It is believed that reciting a mantra causes body vibration that may calm the mind and keep it focused without much effort. Other forms of meditation involve focusing and generate feelings of compassion towards other people. Meditation techniques are mainly done while sitting, but others can be done while working or moving. A person who is able to meditate while working is able to focus on the present work. Concentration while working ensures that work is well done. Psychological Effects of Meditation Meditation is considered as a technique that offers mental relaxation. It can thereby be assumed that meditation affects how the body functions. Meditation is able to alter the perception on one’s body (Braboszcz et al., 2010, p.4). Research shows that meditation induces changes in cortical areas in the nervous system (Braboszcz et al., 2010, p.4). Cortical areas in the nervous system process inputs. This finding can be relied on to account for increased awareness because of meditation. According to this study, it can be assumed that regular meditation that focuses on sensation, both external and internal, increases the cortex’s thickness. Research shows that increased thickness of the cortex is correlated with meditation (Braboszcz et al., 2010, p.4). Increased thickness of the cortex increases body awareness. Therefore, it can be assumed that meditation increases body awareness. Meditation is believed to induce various changes in self-representation of a person (Braboszcz et al., 2010, p.4). Research done using fMRI shows that there is reduced coupling between the medial prefrontal cortex and the insular cortex after extensive meditation (Braboszcz et al., 2010, p.4). The insular cortex is involved in internal body responses and perception of pain. The medial
  4. 4. prefrontal cortex is usually involved in cognition at a higher-level. This research can be relied on to assume that meditation creates self-awareness at different levels. Meditation is believed to affect attention. Meditation is a skill and thus it is assumed of being able to train the brain into being attentive. Mental trainings that are involved during meditation reinforce brain circuits involved in attention (Braboszcz et al., 2010, p.5). This finding relied on a study done using fMRI. FMRI is a technique that is used in monitoring metabolic activities of the brain (Braboszcz et al., 2010, p.5). People meditating were analyzed and fMRI results showed that their brains had more activity in brain attention areas (Braboszcz et al., 2010, p.5). Expert meditation practitioners showed less activity in brain attention areas than novel meditation practitioners (Braboszcz et al., 2010, p.5). This finding can be used to assume that meditation is a practice that is learned and requires many years of practice to perfect. Conclusion Meditation is a practice that has attracted a lot of interest among behavioral researchers. There are many types of meditation. These techniques mainly focus on attention and selfconsciousness. Meditation is believed to affect the functioning of the brain. Many studies have been conducted with the aim of finding out how meditation affects the brain psychologically. These studies have been used to assume that meditation may offer mental relaxation and attention.
  5. 5. References 1. Braboszcz, C., Hahusseau, S., & Delorme, A. (2010). Meditation and Neuroscience: from basic research to clinical practice. Integrative Clinical Psychology, Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine: Perspectives, Practices and Research, 1-5. 2. Brach, T. (2003). How to Meditate: A Guide to Formal Sitting Practice. Insight Meditation Community of Washington, 1-2. 3. Chen, T. (1999). The Fundamentals of Meditation Practice. Buddha Dharma Education Association Inc, 1-9. 4. Swami, S. J. n.d. Mind Meditation. Sri Vidya Meditation Center, 1-2.