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Meditation as a discipline refers to the act of directing attention wholly to a particular process or area and firmly allied with assignation of spiritual growth. It describes practices that regulate the mind and the body, hence, effecting mental events in a particular manner and are commonly classified into concentrative and mindfulness. Also known as personal preoccupation, meditation is mostly allied with private evacuation of thought and action. This paper will outline the possible engagement between self-mind and that of others as a compassion as it explores the role of meditative practices in cultivating kindness and love under Asian religion. It will also address several related issues that may arise such as relaxation and behavior change factors and cultivation of other types of meditation effects.
Definition and Limitation
Meditation originated as a healing practice and has since gotten various definitions in religion as a practice that self regulates both the mind and the body by engaging some aspects of care through wakeful mind frame together with body relaxation. Meditation incorporates many systems that are diverse in nature and are distinguishable by attention on focus that takes the form of concentrative techniques and mindfulness on the other end.
Different practices may lead to short term and long term effects on the brain depending on a different pattern on brain activity. Under mindfulness, personal views and feelings at a given attention base arise at individual level and at an extended predisposition. Concentrative meditation methods, on the other hand, involve focusing on specific sensory activity such as repeated sound or breath (Vaitl, Birbaumer, Gruzelier, Jamieson, Kotchoubey, & Kubler, 2005).This calls for discussion of mediation practices separately.
Definition incorporating spiritual ideas cannot be scientifically proven hence making the entire process subjective and private. This makes it more intricate with less scrutiny, analysis and testing being made. Definitions that take either mindfulness concept or the concentrative method are different from those that take biological stance hence no generalization of the definition for meditation is arrived at (The University of Alberta Evidence-Based Practice Center, 2007). Conceptualization of meditation is also made difficult by the state that it encompasses many techniques that are diverse in nature that could have significant clinical consequences. The brain may, as a result, have long term and short term consequences.
Recent studies conducted by psychologists show that there are benefits of training attention. Studies show that the mindfulness is a method of stress reduction through mindfulness-based stress reduction technique and, as a result, it enhances well-being of an individual. However, mechanisms of actions underlying these effects are yet to be determined empirically (Brown, Ryan, & Cresswell, 2007). The beneficial outcome of MBSR is increased mindfulness that in turn is the primary mediator of good outcomes. Motivation is a factor that may encourage one to pay attention. The mind is trained to focus and sustain attention and studies have shown that indeed mindfulness-based intervention increase dimensions of mindfulness.
Meditation applications are mostly applied in health care situations as self-exploration methods bereft of the religious meaning. Other places where meditation is taught are schools and prisons both of which removes its religious contexts. However, the longer a person meditates the more their divine intervention appears and hence they are more likely to be defined as Buddhists consequently making correlation between meditation and religion important.
The idea of independence of mental and spiritual virtues is indeed an ancient idea that has reverberated both from the west and the east. Given that independence, spiritual discipline offers spiritual training such as Taoism and Hinduism. Meditation has been used by psychotherapists as a clinical intervention for self- regulation and liberalization. Adherence and compliance is an important part in self- control. Studies show that a prolonged meditation has a positive correlation with non- compliance in learning systems. To overcome resistance, individuals can therefore understand why resistance exists in particular situations.
Developed by Maharishi Yogi, transcendental meditation can help addiction, reduce depression and anxiety, promote healthy choices and encourage cognitive function. A study conducted under the subject shows that spiritual or religious focus attributes claims that are not refuted. The practice of TM can allow an individual to access source of thought, a process that cannot be subjected to experimentation. Investigators have, therefore, resorted to providing biological elucidations in accordance with current methodical understandings. Studies examining physiological state of intense meditation characterized it as a wakeful hypo metabolic state of sympathetic attenuation and parasympathetic dominance. The results noted were reduced tidal volume, increase in basal skin resistance and reduced respiratory rates among others (Wallace, 1970). The hypo-metabolic state allows for successful adaptation in the core of environmental modification and stress that has health restorative benefits.
Changes that accompany meditation such as state-dependent EEG change include increased predominance of alpha waves in the frontal and occupational lobes which enhance integration of regional brain activity and dampen emotional reactivity. This makes TM to be associated with cerebral perfusion to the frontal regions at a time of intense meditation. Long term mediation results in reduced cortisol levels hence reducing the impact of chronic stress. TM also shares commonalities with the Hindu traditional Yoga in terms of maintenance of specific posture and bodily rest together with intellectual alertness. GABA levels in the brain increases significantly as yoga session prolongs as compared to reading session of the same comparable time. Low GABA is associated with depression, epilepsy and anxiety.
Most research conducted by scholars emphasizes on self -exploration as an aspect of meditation and have given it a different direction from the spiritual context. Less footage is placed on religious studies despite the current increasing moral value on the same. The spiritual aspect encompasses developing sense of harmony with the environs hence liberalizing humans from the traditional thinking to more modern ways of looking at things. Effects of meditation practice are also related to an individual’s goals and expectations so that what one wants is what they get. Religious orientation is also related to the length of practicing meditation so that atheists, agnostic and secular humanists decline in that order (Shapiro, 1992).
Meditation benefits range from the ability to cope with life situations peacefully. There is increased sense of inner serenity, and the perspective of the capability to do anything within own range and increased composure. An individual also undergoes a process of self -exploration so that they identify things that they can be able to do; hence, they are able to understand their own opinions, feelings, emotions and self- image.
Individuals who continue to meditate for a long time have their expectations shifting as time passes by, self-exploration of might increases, they get liberalized so that one does only things that they perceive and know to be adding value to them. For instance, what one may view to be their goal of undergoing meditation process may change in the process to another different thing due to change of personality and way of thinking.
The change may vary from self-regulation and interest to something more social and able to impact many more people’s lives. This shows that the meditation is not an end in itself but is a step towards developing greater kindness. Studies show that different expectations change depending on the length of meditation and majority of people are likely to obtain positive results that are compatible with their prospects.
The secular tactic of meditation as a technique lacking context may be operative in certain settings and more so in a short time. However, meditation practiced on long term basis produces a more reliable and dependable meaning of language, religion orientation and community particularism. This shows that the longer one meditates from a particular traditional setting, the more it becomes difficult to keep from identifying oneself as part of that particular tradition.
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Awareness is essential to promoting both physiological and psychological self-regulation. The mediation practice incorporates training the mind in a particular manner to engage information that is entering deliberately in a positively different way (s) be it by watching or through chat. In most cases, feeling of relaxation after meditation arise because the conscious mind will not be responding to external stimuli with fear and increased sense of well-being as anxiety is weakened. Superficial form of identity is likely to wither away as self-sense of centering and integration evolves. Other effects are greatly enabled by pointing attention to a particular facet of functioning. Awareness should, therefore, be encouraged to promote both physiological and psychological self-regulation.
Meditation process is seen as directed when the meditation contents carry meaning to engage an aspect of personal-self in a mindful approach. For instance, bodily sensation such as hunger may be used by growing awareness and then making alteration of its intellectual. In most cases, people use a combination of both, controlled, concentrative and mindfulness practices as meditation practices. The entire process of meditation incorporates training the mind to disengage from traditional thinking modes, attention and response to objects of consciousness.
Neuropsychological functioning knowledge is understood and increases as one systematically practice them. Emphasis need to be put in utilization of behavior and emotions so that an understanding of nature of mental behavior is understood and adaptive processes realized and applied. Studies show that brain functioning can be improved through meditation. Brain attention and retention improves when one subjects it to certain training, induced or not induced and as practice of the same is upheld. Destruction is at high levels for those who are not subjected to some form of training and at reduced level for those who are trained.
There is provision for mind-wondering, however, for either group. The ability of humans to retain information should therefore be trained so as to improve the working ability of the brain (The University of Alberta Evidence-Based Practice Center, 2007). Response to the subject may be individual self -desire or induced by external forces.
Meditation is a highly multifaceted topic that requires kin sense of understanding and exploration. Therefore, clinical usefulness of meditation together with psychological meditation and any other style that may improve human capacity to code and decode meaning should be given priority in future studies. The current state is faced with challenges, but it remains to have set the basis for future studies by showing how meditation affects the brain and response to stimuli that results. Nevertheless, the role that meditation plays in religion is as significant as that that it plays in different multifaceted areas in daily life. It plays a plausible role in engaging mind into a more thoughtful form than before.
Brown, W., Ryan, M., & Cresswell, J. (2007). Mindfulness: Theoretical foundations and evidence for its salutary effects. Psychological Inquiry, 18(4), 211–237. Web.
Shapiro, D. (1992). A preliminary study of long-term meditators: goals, effects, religious orientation, cognitions. The Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, 24, 23-39. Web.
University of Alberta Evidence-Based Practice Center. (2007). Meditation practices for state of the health. Web.
Vaitl, D., Birbaumer, N., Gruzelier, J., Jamieson, A., Kotchoubey, B., & Kubler, A. (2005). Psychobiology of altered states of consciousness. Psychological Bulletin, 131, 98-127. Web.
Wallace, R. (1970). Physiological effects of transcendental meditation. Science, 167, 1751–1754. Web.