Meditation for Stress, Depression, Hypertension, Insomnia and Mood Swings

Jan 26th, 2019
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Meditation has been practiced for thou sands of years. Meditation originally was meant to help deepen understanding of the sacred and mystical forces of life. These days, meditation is commonly used for relaxation and stress reduction.

Meditation is considered a type of mind-body complementary medicine. Meditation can produce a deep state of relaxation and a tranquil mind.

During meditation, you focus your attention and eliminate the stream of jumbled thoughts that may be crowding your mind and causing stress. This process may result in enhanced physical and emotional well-being.

Meditation can give you a sense of calm, peace and balance that can benefit both your emotional well-being and your overall health.

And these benefits don’t end when your meditation session ends. Meditation can help carry you more calmly through your day and may help you manage symptoms of certain medical conditions.

The emotional benefits of meditation can include:

• Gaining a new perspective on stressful situations
• Building skills to manage your stress
• Increasing self-awareness
• Focusing on the present
• Reducing negative emotions
• Increasing imagination and creativity
• Increasing patience and tolerance

With that in mind, some research suggests that meditation may help people manage symptoms of conditions such as:

• Anxiety
• Asthma
• Cancer
• Chronic pain
• Depression
• Heart disease
• High blood pressure
• Irritable bowel syndrome
• Sleep problems
• Tension headaches

Meditation for stress:

Meditation might also be useful if you have a medical condition, especially one that may be worsened by stress. It gives us the space to sort out what are valid demands and what are not. Just think—if we have the capability to distinguish between the two, our experience of stress and anxiety would be much different. The problem is that we don’t have this space in our minds or in our lives. We experience relief because meditation gives us the space and clarity we need to discriminate. This is the demand side element of stress management.

The other key element is increasing our resources, the supply side. Science has shown that brain plasticity, the brain’s ability to change throughout life is extraordinary; therefore by training our minds through meditation techniques we can increase our mental resources and become more capable.

We have become very conscious about how important it is to have a healthy body—the gyms are full. It is just as critical that we have a fit, healthy mind. Through mindfulness meditation practice our minds can become more capable, more focused and clear, enabling us to better handle stressful and demanding situations. This is how meditation for stress reduction enables us to experience a calmer life.

Twenty-nine veterans (20.7% female) were recruited from a major medical center and enrolled in a study to assess utility of transcendental meditation for veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder. TM instruction was provided by certified TM teachers from the Maharishi Foundation and consisted of 8 weeks of individual and group-based meditation instruction and practice. Outcomes were assessed at baseline, during treatment, posttreatment, and at 2-month follow-up, and included clinical interviews, self-report questionnaires, and electroencephalography (EEG) recorded during resting and meditation states.

From baseline to posttreatment, participants reported reductions in PTSD symptoms, experiential avoidance, and depressive and somatic symptoms, as well as increases on measures of mindfulness and quality of life. Gains were either maintained or continued to improve through the 2-month follow-up. Compared to baseline, EEG spectral power increased in low-frequency bands (1-7 Hz) at posttreatment and follow-up and only during meditation states suggesting TMspecific changes in brain state associated with the intervention. TM appears to be an acceptable and effective treatment for veterans with PTSD that warrants further study regarding specific outcomes and beneficial changes in brain function.

Meditation for depression

Between your wonderfully complex brain’s billions of neurons are an internet-likegroup of information communicators known as “neurotransmitters.”

For the depression sufferer, there are two critical “need to know” neurotransmitters: serotonin and norepinephrine.When levels of these two highly important brain chemicals get too low, we feel an overwhelming sense of sadness, and consequently, become depressed.

As countless studies show (including a highly esteemed University of Montreal research team) — with meditation, you can boost both serotonin and norepinephrine to healthy “depression resistant” levels… naturally. In effect, meditation creates within your brain a sort of “neurochemical utopia” — where depression is unable to survive.

It makes Vedic meditation a useful tool for lowering high blood pressure that is far better than having to resort to medications. Instead of there being negative side effects to treatment, the side effects of meditation are nothing but positive.

There have been a number of studies on the effects of using meditation and relaxation techniques on this issue. It has been shown that meditation using personalised mantras is two and a half times more effective than muscle relaxation exercises for lowering high blood pressure, and is more effective still than education programmes on diet and lifestyle.

A randomized controlled trial of stress reduction in African Americans treated for hypertension for conducted for over one year. This clinical trial of older African Americans found that TM practice reduced systolic and diastolic BP significantly more than progressive muscle relaxation (PMR) or a health education control program (HE) during a 3-month period for both genders and for both high and low risk groups on six measures of hypertension risk: psychosocial stress, obesity, alcohol, physical inactivity, sodium/potassium, and all factors combined.

Meditation for insomnia

Research shows that around 10% of the entire population suffers from symptoms of insomnia. There are two main types of insomnia: acute and chronic insomnia. While acute insomnia lasts up to a few weeks, the chronic type is characterized by loss of quality sleep for 3 nights or more every week, over the stretch of one month or longer. Insomnia can be caused by a myriad of reasons such as stress, anxiety, depression, illness and environmental triggers (like temperature & noise). Luckily, you can employ some insomnia meditation techniques to deal with this troubling condition.

Numerous studies have been carried out to unearth the effect of meditation on the quality of sleep. One particular study by the Harvard Medical School was carried out over the length of 6 weeks and involved 49 insomniacs. The group was divided into two: one group went through a thorough mindfulnessawareness program while the other completed an alternative sleep education program. According to the results, the group that underwent mindfulness meditation exhibited far less fatigue, insomnia and depression compared to the second group. Mindfulness meditation, according to this Harvard study, helped to address sleep disorder issues such as restlessness and insomnia among adults.

The link between meditation as a treatment for insomnia is pretty apparent. Physicians even recommend mindfulness meditation for insomnia as a natural alternative for patients. People who suffer from sleeping disorders have one thing in common: their brains are almost always active. The reason why they’re unable to sleep is the anxiety that ensues once they start worrying about not getting sleep. Beta brain waves are normally responsible for an individual’s wakeful state. These waves increase mental activity, leading to enhanced decisionmaking, alertness and concentration. An influx of beta brain waves causes anxiety, uneasiness and even depression. It’s therefore not surprising that these waves occur excessively in insomniacs.

Melatonin is a sleep hormone that controls the states of sleep and 36 asaNa Magazine | November 2018 wakefulness. The pineal gland is responsible for producing melatonin. This hormone peaks during bedtime, helping us to sleep soundly at night. Scientists discovered that performing night time meditation increased melatonin production significantly, leading to better sleep. REM is an acronym for Rapid Eye Movement. It’s a stage during sleep that’s widely associated with dreams. One study performed by Massachusetts General Hospital neuroscientists showed that individuals who performed meditation for insomnia had enhanced REM sleep.

During meditation, it’s important to focus on your breath and avoid interrupting thoughts. You could also focus on a positive mantra (a sound/word) that helps you to relax. Once such positive affirmation is “I am relaxed”

Meditation brings the body into a state of deep relaxation and provides the tools and resources needed to deal with stress. As the body and mind learn to relax through deep breathing exercises and techniques, the mind calms and the body experiences a state of tranquility.

Meditation can actually neutralize the negative consequences of stress hormones that overtax your body and your emotional state. As hormone levels return to normal, emotions settle and stabilize. And the next time you feel upset or anxious, you will be better equipped to deal with intense emotions and situations, using your breath to calm down and relax.

Emotions can truly hold you captive, making you feel as though you’re living your life on a roller coaster of uncontrollable ups and downs, twists and turns. Meditation, on the other hand, involves a great deal of visualization – a powerful tool which can help you reshape your current way of thinking and create a more positive, stable emotional environment.

Meditation can help you build self esteem, heal from past traumas, and experience more joy in the present moment. Visualization during meditation not only gives you the tools to deal with emotional upset by providing stability, but it can also help you map out a course of change for your future.

Mood swings can be caused by many factors – external and internal. The primary ones are:

• Hormonal imbalances
• Vata (air element in body) imbalance
• Sleeplessness
• Stress at work
• Sedentary lifestyle
• Overuse of gadgets

There are three simple ways which can help you bring the shift in your mind, from being an emotional pendulum to being focused and calm. From small alterations in your lifestyle, diet and addition of yoga and pranayama can do wonders to settle down your wandering mind and fluctuating emotions.

Studies show that yoga, pranayama, and meditation calm the mind and reduce stress, which is the main factor in aggravating mood swings. Studies also show that meditation increases the gray matter that is related to emotional regulation.

Meditation is wonderful in that it’s free, always available, and amazingly effective in short-term stress reduction and long-term health. The benefits can be felt in just one session.

Yogananth

Bio

Yogananth Andiappan is known as a pillar of yogic wisdom and techniques from well worth a lifetime of learning. The son of well-renowned Yoga Guru Dr. Asana Andiappan, a figurehead in yoga from India, Yogananth began his yogic journey at the age of 2. He is currently completing a Ph.D at the Sport University of India, studying the effects of yoga therapy and natural yogic diet on cancer patients, and is Founder and Director of Anahata Yoga in Hong Kong.

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