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Meditation

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There are many ways to live a healthy, safe and happy lifestyle. There are many things a person may experience in their life to make them feel better. Meditation is an activity that is used throughout the world to enhance happiness in an individual’s life. There are numerous amounts of reasons why meditation can help you live a healthy, safe and happy lifestyle which will be discussed further on. Meditation is known as a cure to anything and is in debate that people who meditate are much stronger, healthier, happier and active people. There are many studies which have been undertaken which will also be referred to further on. This essay conveys the benefits of meditation in health, happiness, how to meditate as well as showing studies that have been conducted around the world in proving how effective meditating really is.

First of all meditation is a three step process that leads to a state of consciousness that brings serenity, clarity, and bliss to an individual’s life (meditation station, 2006) and is also referred to as mindfulness training. Meditation may increase anyone’s ability to stay in the present moment as opposed to worrying about the future and past. Medititation is also known as enabling an individual to connect more with their feelings and emotions. Meditation improves a person’s concentration which results in a clear mind which makes an individual more productive, especially in creative disciplines like writing (Pettinger, 2012). It helps people not get too bothered by little situations because the mind tends to look at small situations and puts them into the category of a serious situation. By meditating it helps us think and feel calmer and not worry too much. Meditation is good for health circumstances because it reduces stress levels as well as anxiety. If we can reduce stress, many health benefits will not follow behind which will result in a happy and healthier lifestyle. Stress is the number one cause to many health issues which will be discussed further on. Meditation also increases our knowledge of self which is gaining a better understanding of life and the purposes in it. Pioneering medical researcher Dr Jon Kabat Zinn has promoted the physical and psychological health benefits of mindfulness meditation since the late 1970s. As well as meditation reducing stress, anxiety and depression levels, scientific studies show that mindfulness meditation is associated with improved immune functioning which includes having a lower blood pressure, reduced chronic pain as well as muscle tension and headache. It could also help cholesterol levels. There are many kinds of techniques that are used in the practice of meditation. An example could include the Transcendental Meditation technique, referred to as TM. This is claimed to be the best meditation technique that there is as it has been proven to be the most effective throughout the world. It is quoted to be ‘a simple, natural, effortless procedure practiced 20 minutes twice each day while sitting comfortably with the eyes closed’ (TM site, 2012). It is also claimed to be that more than 5 million people worldwide are doing this technique of meditation which proves how good it really is and how it may have an effect on the life. The TM technique improves how people respond in everyday situations such as work, putting more effort into their creativity, focusing more in the class room as well as towards society and to the people around them. Anyone is capable of being able to meditate. The quest for life foundation founded by Petrea King (2012) quotes that meditation ‘is ideal to settle children after playing and to have them focus their attention for learning and if children are lethargic or disinterested then get them to do some stretching before the practice’. Meditation for children would be more difficult than it is for adults, as children are more energetic and could not stay settle for as long as an adult. The best method would be to have the child alone so the meditation session would be able to be more effective and they may take it more seriously. As King (2012) quoted that meditation settles children in relation to their learning skills, but it may help in general especially with their behaviour as children can usually be naughty especially for attention. It may improve their relationship with their families also.

Meditation enhances the level of happiness in an individual for many different reasons. For starters, when someone is meditating, they are thinking about everything from good to bad that is going on in their life. Thinking about negative situations during meditation is not always bad as you are calm and in a comfortable position so it may be easier to resolve the problem in your mind. If anything it is calming you down. It is said that people who keep gratitude journals as well as meditate on a weekly basis are healthier, more optimistic, and more likely to make progress toward achieving their personal goals. The evidence how meditating enhances happiness is shown as meditating allows a person to be healthy for their whole lives. Meditating gives you a break from the world and all of its problems that come along with it. There have been reports that the University of Massachusetts Medical School examined the brains of students who meditated regularly over eight weeks. Those students showed more activity in the parts of the brain that are engaged when people are happy, as compared to the students who do not meditate. This evidence suggests that meditation literally makes you happier. On the BBC news (2003) it said that scientists also have proof that meditating makes you happier as is it proven that Buddhists are happier and calmer people because there have been tests undertaken on their brains and it showed that the parts that are associated with their moods and positive feelings are more active which is a result of meditation. Therefore to become a happier human being, maybe it would be a possibility to consider meditating from time to time are you are not only becoming a happier person, but it is also improving your health status.

Music whilst meditating is usually calm and warming, however there is good and bad to playing music during a meditating session. Bringing music into meditating sessions is a modern thing and probably comes from the fact that many alternative health practitioners play relaxing music in the background while helping out a patient. While playing music during a meditation session has become known as meditation music and the assumption grew that we should listen to music while meditating. Music may also be known as a distraction because one thing about meditation is listening to how your breathing and focusing on it so you are calm, but with music how are you suppose to focus on how you’re breathing when the patient could be too distracted by the song. With focusing more on the breathing, how are you supposed to concentrate on the music being played anyways. Therefore music would be pointless to begin with in that scenario. If you’re going to listen to music whilst meditating it is important to take it seriously as a practice, in other words try not to do anything else at the same time. Don’t work or read anything while you are trying to listen and definitely switch off your phone. Perhaps darken the room and just listen carefully to the music. Make sure you are in a comfortable position that supports alert attention and even sit or lie down comfortably so it can be more enjoyable. By doing this, it will probably result in a person finding that they enjoy it like never before. It is quoted by Bodhipaksa (2009) that listening to natural sounds rather than a song you may already know would be more helpful because if you like a song you may start to get too involved with it and may start to sing or nod your head which would mess up the concentration levels. An article by Alison Motluk (2005), suggests that ‘meditation builds up the brain’. She quotes ‘Meditating does more than just feel good and calm you down, it makes you perform better - and alters the structure of your brain, researchers have found.’ Throughout her article she then goes on to prove her statement. By proving that meditation builds up the brain was proved in examining 15 people who do meditate and 15 people who do not meditate at a Massachusetts hospital. This is very similar to the study that was undertaken at the University of Massachusetts. It was proved that meditating increases the thickness of the cortex in areas involved in attention and sensory processing, such as the prefrontal cortex and the right anterior insula (Motluk, 2005). It is said whilst an individual are meditating that it is actually exercising the brain which is resulting in making it bigger and stronger.

A report by Anastasia Stephens (2009) called ‘Relax – It’s good for you’ portrays the idea that deep relaxation changes the human body on a genetic level. The article mentions that meditating as well as doing yoga will keep you living healthy and stronger, whilst having a good immune system which fights of disease. At Harvard Medical School they did a study on a human’s body that did meditation and found that there were many more ‘disease fighting genes’ which were active, more than in a human’s body that does not meditate (Stephens, 2009). Stephens (2009) claims ‘they found genes that protect from disorders such as pain, infertility, high blood pressure and even rheumatoid arthritis were switched on’. They suggest that meditation is like a medical drug called the ‘relaxation effect’ because it works the mind without having any side effects. The doctors at Harvard Medical School did not stop their experiment there. For the people who do not meditate they told them to go home, do some relaxing methods like meditate or yoga and come back in two months to get re- examined. The results proved the statement that to relax, it is really good for you as the results came back showing that their bodies had changed. Stephens (2009) claimed ‘the genes that help fight inflammation, kill diseased cells and protect the body from cancer all began to switch on'. There are many destinations around that offer meditation sessions which may include the Nan Tien Temple in Unaderra. This offers people to come along for two days, usually on a weekend, to stay overnight and do a process of meditating as well as enjoy some delicious meals and receive great accommodation. The Nan Tien Temple site (2012) quotes about this retreat as ‘allowing us to refocus our lives and reawaken parts of ourselves suppressed by the life that we have been living’. It may be pricey, but there have been many positive feedbacks on their meditation sessions. I’m sure in any area there would be places like the Nan Tien Temple that would help out people in rediscovering and retrieving their live, beliefs and feelings. This would be a positive thing to go, take a break and enjoy as the benefits in meditating are unbelievable. Meditating will leave anyone feeling so much healthier, as well as feeling happier as relaxing is very important.

In conclusion, meditating has more benefits than anyone could have ever imagined. It helps people live a healthy, happy and safe lifestyle. It helps people live longer as meditating helps the immune system which was mentioned earlier and makes it harder to develop deadly diseases in the future. As mentioned by Motluk (2005) ‘it brings out the brighter side in everyone as meditating makes you more focused and allows the brain to become bigger and better’. Meditating helps in relationships with the people you love most because it increases your self-awareness, give you tools to manage anger and stress, and can breed an awareness of and appreciation for the positive influences in your life (Wayne, 2011). As Wayne (2011) claims ‘these traits can lead to more open and loving relationships with the people you care about’. They can also make negative relationships in your life less stressful by helping you keep that relationship in perspective of its values in your life. Meditating is definitely something to consider as there are just too many positives to it that will leave everyone smiling every single day for the rest of their life. It is a process people can even meditate for 5 or 10 minutes a day and it would still have an effect on the human body. Meditation enhances happiness in so many ways and being a happy person is important as it will keep people head strong and have a positive mind. As mentioned like the Nan Tien Temple, there are so many venues throughout the world that are willing to help people meditate as the effects of it are amazing.

References:
BBC News, (2003) Buddhists ‘really are happier’, retrieved from http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/3047291.stm on the 1/6/12
Bodhipaksa, (2009) Wildmind Buddhist Meditation, ‘Should I listen to music when I meditate?’ retrieved from http://www.wildmind.org/background/can-anyone-meditate/music on the 27/5/12
King. P, (2008) The Quest For Life Foundation, ‘Meditation for Children’. Retrieved from http://www.questforlife.com.au/meditation-children on the 1/6/12
Motluk. A, (2005) ‘Meditation builds up the brain’, retrieved from http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn8317-meditation-builds-up-the-brain.html on the 27/5/12
Nan Tien Temple, (2012) ‘Weekend Meditation Retreat’, retrieved from http://www.nantien.org.au/en/retreat/weekend_retreat.asp on the 30/5/12
Pettinger. T, (2012) ‘Four powerful reasons to meditate and how to get started’ retrieved from http://www.pickthebrain.com/blog/4-reasons-you-should-meditate-and-how-to-get-started/ on the 25/5/12
Stephens. A, (2009) The Sydney Morning Herald. ‘Relax – It’s Good For You’ retrieved from http://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/relax--its-good-for-you-20090819-eqlo.html on the 29/5/12
The Meditation Society of America, (2006) ‘Meditation Station’, retrieved from http://www.meditationsociety.com/what.html on the 30/5/12
The Transcendental Mediation Program, (2012) ‘TM Technique’, retrieved from http://www.tm.org/learn-meditation on the 29/5/12
Wayne. J, (2011) ‘Meditation influence on life’, retrieved from http://www.livestrong.com/article/534872-meditations-influence-on-life/ on the 4/6/12

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