Meditating is good for you, it’s scientific

After much skepticism, scientific research confirms: the use of Eastern meditation techniques can prevent and cure many diseases. Until the 1950s, meditation was the prerogative of monks. Then with the Beatles it became the practice of the flower children, followed in later years by soccer players and actors: ponder Roberto Baggio and Richard Gere. More recently it has been the turn of CEOs of large multinational corporations-Rao Dalio(Bridgewater associates) and Marc Benioff(Oracle and And today even Dmitry A. Medvedev, prime minister of the Russian Federation, has given himself over to meditation. For the past few years, however, meditation has not only been concerned with “psychological well-being” and has entered hospitals with many applications: from pain control to immunology, from treating hypertension to slowing brain decline. What does it consist of? What results does it give and by what mechanisms does it act? IN PRINCIPLE. It all started some 30 years ago when Jon Kabat Zinn founded the Center for Mindfulness at the University of Worcester (Uk) and began using meditation as a therapeutic tool. A tool that is far from easy to offer: in the hectic contemporary life, meditation in the Eastern tradition is difficult practice. But its benefits are no longer in question: it improves attention, cognitive skills and memory, and reduces anxiety and depressive symptoms. Not only that. At Brown University in Providence (USA), Catherine Kerr exploits meditation for its analgesic effect: she claims it works as a kind of knob that regulates the perception of unpleasant sensations. In 2010, when he was at MIT at Harvard, he showed that if one focuses attention on sensations in the left hand, the brain “map” corresponding to that hand registers a significant drop in the amplitude of waves that filter sensations, letting through only those that exceed a certain threshold. However, if attention is focused on another part of the body, the waves return to normal. The following year, using magneto-encephalography, a brain imaging technique, he showed that the rhythms of these waves in the brain correlated with sensory attention and that the ability to regulate these waves in the cerebral cortex was greater in subjects capable of meditation. In other words, meditating allows for greater control over the sensory system and enables one to choose what to focus on. Result? Meditation makes what you do not want to feel go into the background, for example-and this is no small thing-chronic pains. Fadel Zeidan, a neurobiologist at Wake Forest Baptist University (U.S.), has even quantified the effect of meditation compared with the analgesic power of morphine: “It could reduce the intensity of pain by 40 percent and its unpleasantness by 57 percent, compared with only a 25 percent reduction achieved with morphine,” Zeidan claims. ANTI-INFLAMMATORY. Many cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases are linked to a state of inflammation for which neither the origin nor the cure is exactly known: if the inflammatory state could be reduced, perhaps they could be prevented. This is the path taken almost by accident by Steven Cole, of theUniversity of California Los Angeles (UCLA): he wanted to study whether meditation could reduce the feeling of loneliness in the elderly, a condition that increases the risk of heart disease, Alzheimer’s, depression and even premature death. So he put about 40 subjects in meditation half an hour a day for 8 weeks. But he soon found that this “therapy” was not limited to affecting psychological well-being: meditation also reduced the activation of inflammation-related genes and thus reduced inflammation itself. It is also a short step to evaluate the effects on the immune system. Meditation also appears to be effective on a particular type of white blood cell, CD4 T lymphocytes. They are considered the brain of the immune system because they coordinate the activity of the defense army when the body undergoes an infectious attack. But they are also the cells that ravage the HIV virus, responsible for AIDS, by weakening the immune response of patients. In 2008, David Creswell, of UCLA’s Counsins center for Psychoneuroimmunology, put a group of 24 HIV-positive (i.e., infected, but not with AIDS) subjects into meditation for eight weeks and compared them with an equivalent control group. In meditating subjects, the reduction in CD4 T lymphocytes was lower than in the control group: the effect was of the same magnitude in all 12 meditators, both those on antiretroviral therapy and those who were not. Meditation proves to be a panacea in many areas. It even seems to be effective against colds: Bruce Barrett, of the University of Wisconsin (U.S.), studied meditation on 51 individuals and calculated that those who meditate have a 40-50% reduction in work days lost to acute respiratory infections, including influenza, compared to those who do not meditate. The duration of the disease is shorter and the symptoms are milder. CHARACTER. That meditating can calm the most agitated spirits seems trivial, but it has been established that the effects are far more relevant and profound. Take those who for psychosomatics are Type A personalities: competitive in all aspects of life, tend to fight, exhibit aggression (even if repressed), impatience, impatience with the rhythms of others. These are usually successful individuals, but with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. About 30 years ago Herbert Benson, a cardiologist at Massachusetts general hospital in Boston, USA, and founder of the Mind/Bondy Medical Institute, had begun using relaxation and meditation in this type of patient. Other cardiologists such as Randy Zusman, director of the hypertension program at Massachusetts general hospital, did not believe in the effectiveness of these methods at all and continued to prescribe antihypertensive drugs. Since 2008, Zusman has also changed course and now focuses on meditation and proper lifestyle. A trial of 60 hypertensive patients convinced her: in 40, meditation had reduced hypertension enough to allow a dramatic drop in medication intake. Zusman also found a biological explanation: “Hypertension is all about the pipes: if the caliber of the pipes is narrow the pressure goes up, if the caliber

Meditation techniques

Meditation is a set of techniques that allows you to unite body and mind through concentration and breathing practices.The aim is to put the practitioner in communication with his own Self to help him recover well-being and psycho-physical-emotional integrity. Meditation has always been an aspect that characterizes sports practices related to traditional Chinese medicine, such as Tai Chi and Chi Kung.The non-identification that meditative practices help to build over time facilitates, in fact, the process of analyzing one’s own reality in a more lucid way, less misled by disturbing emotionality. Meditation has beneficial effects on mind and body confirms science. The cover of the November issue of the most prestigious popular science magazine, Scientific American, dedicated to the subject, represents yet another important step in the process of rapprochement between a millenary discipline such as meditation and part of the contemporary scientific community. Fifteen years of research with people who practice various forms of meditation have shown not only that this activity modifies brain function and structure, but is beginning to show that contemplative practices can also have a substantial effect on biological processes critical to physical health. Studies show that meditation also increases our ability to “control” basic physiological responses, such as inflammation and blood stress hormone levels. Data that provide a first but powerful explanation to the beneficial effects produced by meditation on the general state of health of individuals.

“Healing” with meditation

“The purpose of meditation is to help the practitioner to reach a deep understanding of reality, that vision that is able to free us from fear, anxiety and melancholy and can generate understanding and compassion in us, improve the quality of our life and give freedom, peace and joy to ourselves and those around us” (Thich Nhat Hanh). According to a recent study published in the Journal of Neuroscience, meditation would be able to decrease pain by an average of 40% with peaks of 90%, while painkillers usually reach 25%. In fact, the countless beneficial effects of meditation have been known for some time. This practice has in fact proved to be a valuable aid in alleviating psychological and physical symptoms and useful in preventing or delaying the evolution of various diseases.What does it mean to practice meditation? “Meditation” means generating the energy of mindfulness, maintaining concentration. Therefore, the practice of meditation requires keeping the mind completely free from the stimuli of the surrounding environment, in order to reach a state of attention or awareness. Thus the mind is free to accept any sensation, idea, image or vision, letting associations flow over all aspects of the object or thought, to understand its shape, profile, color, essence. “… Feel your abdomen expand when you inhale, feel it contract when you exhale. There is nothing to accomplish, nothing to achieve. Note thoughts, sensations, perceptions; Do not attack or reject them: just observe them, keep breathing…” (Claude Anshin Thomas). It is, therefore, the art of observing without thinking, without criticizing intellectually. It is possible to meditate sitting, walking, standing or lying down, therefore also carrying out the normal activities of daily life. The ultimate goal is to make sure that you learn to be present here and now, whatever you are doing. What happens at a physiological level in our body when we meditate? According to the oncologist Paolo Lissoni the practice of meditation would be effective, for example, for the prevention and treatment of tumors thanks to a hormone of well-being (melatonin), which during this practice increases.In fact, when you meditate, the body relaxes, the mind calms down, the breath slows down and it happens that:   at the brain level decreases the activity of thoughts and emotions and all incoming signals, and slower and deeper electrical waves similar to those that regulate sleep appear; in the blood increase the hormones of well-being such as melatonin or serotonin, while those of stress, cortisol and adrenaline decrease; decrease lipids in the carotid artery that carries blood to the brain; heartbeat, vessel movements, lymphatic flow harmonize; decreases muscle tension.   Source  

Meditation, scientific evidence of critical mass and its effects on reality

Many recent scientific experiments confirm more and more deeply the hypotheses according to which the human mind can have a decisive effect on the reality that surrounds him. The spread of disciplines such as yoga and meditation in the Western world, attracts and pushes more and more scientists, doctors, biologists and physicists to investigate by technical means the truths transmitted by the most ancient sacred texts. The mind has the power to transform reality. An ancient knowledge, a knowledge perhaps hidden and hidden, rediscovered by the studies of quantum mechanics at the beginning of the last century. The way physicists look at reality has changed, changed completely. It can be said that, with the advent of quantum mechanics, a Copernican revolution has taken place within Western philosophical thought. In other ways, in other ways we are reconnecting with the teachings of the ancient rishis. However, science needs proofs, concreteness, experimental verifications, which has led us as if by magic, to already have numerous experimental confirmations in the field of consciousness and its effects on “reality”. In 1970 Herbert Benson and Robert Wallace, doctors at Harvard University, began their studies on the consequences and effects of meditation on the brain. They focused their studies on TM (Transcendental Meditation, taught by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi) obtaining concrete measures of the decrease of anxiety and stress in people who regularly practiced TM. An even more interesting discovery was shown by the electroencephalograms (ECGs) of the meditators. During meditation, the brain waves became coherent, the thought of all practitioners aligned and coordinated entering the phase, as if they were all connected, as if they were one thought! In the same years, a confidential study was initiated by the FBI which highlighted the following findings. In cities where 1% of the population practiced TM the crime rate decreased, completely contrary to the general trend in other cities. This kind of studies have been repeated in the following years in different communities in order to have a wider number of surveys on which to carry out statistical studies. Well, all the data collected have only confirmed the effect, called and known since then as the Maharishi effect and which is one of the most confirmed and verified sociological effects. The studies were subsequently repeated on the TM-Siddhi technique, which causes the same results with a smaller number of practitioners, equal to the square root of the population under examination. In the early eighties, studies on the Maharishi effect were redesigned on a larger scale, involving as many as 7000 TM-siddhi practitioners in the experiment and equal to the square root of 1% of the world’s population. The experiment generated the same results (reduction of violent episodes, attenuation of conflict in war zones, reduction of the number of deaths in conflicts, simultaneous rise of stock markets), but this time on a global scale. “The depth of the lake, the waves and the reflection of the glacier, remind me of the inner life. The mind is as deep as the lake, the waves on the surface represent the activities of the conscious mind, on the surface of the mind, while the entire depth of the lake is silent, and that is the unconscious mind that is not used by the wave. But if the wave could penetrate deeper and incorporate quieter levels of water, the wave could become as powerful as that of the ocean. This is what happens in meditation. The superficial activity of the conscious mind goes deep and incorporates the depth of the unconscious mind. With practice nothing remains unconscious, the unconscious becomes conscious and man begins to use the full potential of the mind. […] When with the practice of meditation the mind goes directly within, to the source of thought, transcends thought and attains bliss consciousness and is able to maintain it even when it goes out and experiences the world of objective nature […] The example of the lake brings us a great teaching of spiritual life. Life is bliss, it is pure existence, just as the flower is nothing but sap. The different levels of manifestation of pure existence, pure being, absolute consciousness, pure intelligence, this is life!! …. Each of us can make a difference. Source: rosaliastellacci 2011

Meditation against early stress in children

In the era of hyper-connected society and exasperated competitiveness, giving children back calm, play and the opportunity to enjoy peace and relaxation, seems more like an illusion than an opportunity. Yet, experts assure, children, even very young ones, have within them a huge potential for the practice of meditation and the natural gift of concentrating completely in playful activity. It is enough to teach them to free themselves from stress, increasingly precocious, and from the thousand inputs with which our society bombards them. And accompany them in the not difficult art of relaxation through meditation, a way of educating that in many countries has already entered schools, while in Italy its benefits are still poorly understood. Welcome then Let’s play to relax (Feltrinelli), a manual signed by Marina Panatero and Tea Pecunia, who for years have been dealing with oriental traditions, Buddhism and Zen. And translators and authors of numerous texts in these fields. A book that already on the cover announces its purpose: meditation to calm children and make them more attentive and creative. Everyone can do it. Parents, grandparents, uncles, educators or teachers, or even child therapists. Anyone who is willing to use a tool practiced in many areas of the world and with amazing results. Children are not immune to stress. Indeed, childhood can be very complex: we live strong, sudden emotions and the thousand commitments that we unload on them risk crowding their little lives. So there are many reasons to try. But how can children meditate? Meanwhile, a premise: you can never force children. But only try to involve and intrigue them. With the game especially. And with guided meditations. The book is exhaustive about everything we can do. They range from theory, to the introduction of all aspects of meditation, we focus on why and how to help children and how to prepare to “play” with them. In the queue, practical tips and suggestions with guided meditations for children aged five to eight years, from nine to eleven, or those of all ages.…… The essence of meditative practice is not so far from the nature of children: meditating means gently directing attention into the here and now, and the ability to be centered in the present is inherent in young children, who focus on a game they play, placing all their attention there, totally immersed in what they live. With time, they will tend to lose this innate quality, swallowed up by the multiple activities and the countless commitments that are assigned to them, but above all by the incessant bombardment of inputs to which they are subjected. Children can enter meditation very easily, you just need to know how to help them do it.We cannot force them, we can only invite them with absolute respect. By proposing meditation to them, as a pleasant moment, a “game” to play in the family or in the classroom, we equip them with a precious tool, which they will always have available. It benefits the ability to relax, learning, attention level, memory, self-awareness, self-confidence, self-sufficiency, emotional balance, creativity, relationships and, above all, the child feels in harmony with himself and the world, feels inner peace and joy. Parents and school, where are we? Talking to other parents we often hear of children who manifest restlessness or otherwise live with stress the small big daily commitments or the first interactions with peers and adults. Teachers with decades of experience note that, over the years, the students have become more “lively” and distracted. But these children are still the fruit of our generation, which lives “in a hurry” in a competitive world. It is up to us to find a solution, to offer an alternative to our children so that they can grow up serene and become better adults: meditation is a sweet and effective “medicine”, simple and free, which also requires our participation and which allows us to let their potential blossom. In many Western countries, meditation is practiced in many schools with remarkable results and we hope that it will soon spread to Italy: many parents and teachers have shown sincere interest in this project. Meditating together creates a strong and mutual connection between pupil and teacher, allowing children to experience school in a more serene and profitable way. We are deeply convinced that happy educators will change the world…….. As Steve Jobs said, “Only those who are crazy enough to think about changing the world really change it.”

Meditate in the hospital , is it possible

Imagine a hospital where everyone (doctors, nurses, patients, clerks, auxiliaries, trainees, managers, general managers, relatives of patients) practices forty-five minutes of meditation a day. No, it is not a dream nor are we talking about an unspecified future. In Massachusetts they do it regularly and … Since the seventies. “Awareness doesn’t grow simply because you’ve decided it’s a good idea to be more aware. To develop a solid meditation practice, you also need a strong commitment to work on yourself and enough self-discipline to persevere in the practice when you encounter difficulties. In the stress reduction clinic the basic rule is that everyone practices: no one is simply a spectator. The presence of relatives or friends is accepted only if they undertake to practice exactly like patients, forty-five minutes a day, six days a week. Doctors, medical students, nurses and therapists from various disciplines who do internships in the clinic, must all commit to practicing the same meditation program as patients. Without this personal experience, they would not be able to understand the path of patients and the kind of effort it takes to work on the energies of their mind and body.” Taken from: Sanitari consapevoli – luglio 2013