By vinnis211 November 9, 2018
According to Psychology Today, some archaeologists date meditation to as early as 5,000 BC. The worldwide spread of meditation began around five or six centuries BC. along the Silk Road when the practice spread across Asia. Arriving in to the new world, it slowly transformed to adapt to each new culture. But it was not until the 20th century that it began to emerge from the realm of specific religions, especially in the West.
Ever since it’s popularity started to emerge in western societies, scientists have been intrigued by extraordinary feats they witnessed Buddhist monks performed while in meditative states.
In recent years, more and more studies have been conducted on the psychological and physical effects of meditation. Scientist are using modern tools, such as MRI and EEG, to monitor the brain physiology and neural activity during meditation or before and after meditation. In this way, connections are being established between the contemplative practices and changes in the structure and functioning of the brain.
One such case was performed by Harvard scientists researching Buddhist monks abilities to manipulate their bodies. Using nothing but their body temperature and a yoga technique known as “g Tum-mo,” the monks in the video below completely dried their icy blankets in thirty minutes by simply using deep concentration. They even produced steam from them and in some cases raised their body temperature by 17 degrees.
Even more intriguing was how the intense meditation slowed down their metabolisms by as much as 64%. Thereby, delaying the aging process. That’s enough to considerably increase someone’s longevity! The monks suggest that everyone has the ability to practice profound meditation and focus, which unlocks these powers. They asserted that it is in our nature to be able to exert such control over our bodies. Watch the incredible video!
During my research for this article, I’ve become aware that the U.S. government has studied the practice of meditation quite extensively. From the first physiological studies of meditation in the 1950s meditation research has come a long way. Several departments within the government are touting the myriad benefits of practicing meditation; including the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, The Center For Disease Control, The Veterans’ Administration and even The Department of Homeland Security.
Meditation has a history that goes back thousands of years, and many meditative techniques began in Eastern traditions. Some types of meditation involve keeping mental focus on a particular sensation or a repeated word or phrase. Others include the practice of mindfulness, which involves keeping attention or awareness on the present moment without making judgments.
Here are 8 things to know about what the science says about meditation and mindfulness for health:
Few high-quality studies have examined the effects of meditation and mindfulness on blood pressure. According to a 2017 statement from the American Heart Association, the practice of meditation may have a possible benefit, but its specific effects on blood pressure have not been determined.
Studies examining the effects of mindfulness or meditation on acute and chronic pain have produced mixed results.
According to the VA, many Veterans desire complementary and alternative medicine or integrative medicine modalities, both for treatment and for the promotion of wellness. Given the VA’s desire to promote evidence-based practice, they conducted an evidence mapping project which aimed to help provide guidance to VA leadership about the distribution of evidence on mindfulness.
The VA Evidence-Based Synthesis Program located in West Los Angeles, CA conducted the systematic review of 10 electronic databases through February 2014 to examine the evidence on the effectiveness of mindfulness interventions. After applying inclusion/exclusion criteria, they identified 81 unique systematic reviews on mindfulness interventions that they used in the scope of the project.
1: An Evidence Map that provides a visual overview of the distribution of evidence (both what is known and where there is little or no evidence base) for mindfulness; and
2: A set of executive summaries that would help stakeholders interpret the state of the evidence to inform policy and clinical decision making.
Most research is available for general overviews on health benefits or psychological wellbeing. Reviews on chronic illness, depression, substance use, somatization, distress, and mental illness also included 10 or more randomized controlled trials (RCTs). The largest review included 109 mindfulness RCTs. Reviews suggest differential effects of mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR), mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT), and other mindfulness-based interventions, and definitions of “mindfulness-based” varied. The most consistent beneficial effect for various mindfulness interventions was reported for depression. Published meta-analyses of MBSR also indicated beneficial effects compared to passive control (e.g., no intervention) on overall health and psychological outcomes and for chronic illness. In addition, reviews indicated positive effects of Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) for mental illness and of various mindfulness interventions for somatization disorders. All depicted dimensions are estimates and can only provide a broad overview of the evidence base.
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