Guide On Meditation: Spiritual Perspectives

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The result? Change your brain, change your life. Not only do meditators often look decades younger than their actual age, but they also live much longer lives. Here, we take a look at the most fascinating age defying studies making news headlines, and how meditation freezes father time. Here, from a variety of angles, we discuss how meditation can propel anyone to their ideal body. Here we show you the vast benefits waiting under the surface, and how meditation is the best way to dive in, explore, and harness your deep mind.

Meditation The Film : The Science and Spirituality of Meditation

See detailed chart. The benefits are staggering. Why is meditation such a powerful anxiety reliever? From building neurotransmitters, to quieting mind chatter, to cooling the amygdala, this in-depth article discusses why anxiety is no match against meditation. From urge surfing, to mastering stress, to uprooting deep seated emotions, to making us naturally high, to unplugging healthfully, here we discuss why meditation eradicates addiction. From transforming psychology, to rewiring thought, to massively upgrading physiology, here we discuss why meditation dominates depression.

Other than hibernating bears, meditators are the world's best sleepers. Here's how meditation conquers sleep problems, dominates sleep disorders, while helping people with even the worst cases of insomnia sleep like a log. Through a process called "Neurogenesis," doctors have discovered that our brain's "neuron count" is not set for life. Here, we discuss why scientists keep studying the marvelous meditating brain, and how you too can tap these awesome benefits. Powerful CEOs, famous Hollywood actors, bestselling authors, well-known media personalities, top military rank, high level creatives, professional athletes, and even billionaires say meditation is the secret to their success.

Without the willpower to put in the hard yards today, the dream of a better tomorrow will always be just that. A dream. Luckily, willpower is never set in stone. All the great ones had it, you can too. Become "willpowerful" with meditation. The world needs creativity. Books don't author themselves. Inventions don't invent themselves. Technology doesn't innovate itself. Luckily, we are creative by nature. It's in our genes. It's in our brains. Awaken yours with meditation. Bill Gates trusts it.

Steve Jobs said it's "more powerful than intellect. Albert Einstein called it the "only real valuable thing. Get "Gritty" with meditation. Whether dropped on a deserted island or elevated to the helm of a startup, with their uncanny ability to navigate uncertainty — people with high fluid intelligence always find a way to thrive.

Become "fluidly intelligent" with meditation. Here's how meditation's incredible brain benefits can transform your microbiome — and ultimately, your health. Your body is a "community" of 50 trillion living cells. When your cells are in harmony, you're healthy.

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In disharmony, disease can manifest. Here's how meditation heals at the molecular level, while helping to create a "cellular utopia. Meditate Like A Pro. Harness Your Infinite Brainwave Power. Understand how EquiSync is designed to guide your brainwaves into the deepest, most advanced states of meditation. See detailed charts. Why is EquiSync better than the rest?

How do our audio tracks produce such deep meditative states? Learn about EquiSync's next generation design features. Very helpful. Just the tip of the iceberg!

Issues and Perspectives in Meditation Research: In Search for a Definition

Feel "At One" With All. Beat Loneliness. How meditation conquers loneliness. Want to fortify your immunity? Pumping us full of highly addictive chemicals, food can be a drug. Meditation's "natural high" solves this beautifully. Crank Up Your "Longevity Molecule. Luckily, meditation helps us swim in it.

While we don't believe in the mythical "fountain of youth" like our ancestors, one magic molecule is making a strong case. Common sense says that, when food cravings hit, we have two options: give in or resist. How meditation unlocks urge surfing. Chronic pain can become so ingrained that we feel it's who we are. Here's why meditation is the best pain relief tool. Short telomeres are linked to the whole medical dictionary. But what is meditation? What role does it play in various cultures? And how is it practiced in different parts of the world?

Historically, meditation practices have been far more diverse than those we are currently familiar with. Acem, Zen and mindfulness are just the top of the iceberg," he tells us. In the course of three years Professor Eifring has been the editor of three books on meditation. The first, about Eastern Asiatic meditation techniques, was published in Chinese in Book number two is about meditation in Judaism, Christianity and Islam. The third book addresses meditation practices in Hinduism, Buddhism and Taoism. A typical example of a content-based form of meditation is the recitation of prayers or scripture.

It can also be the visualization of specific episodes or incidents -- like a story from sacred scripture, the death of Christ or one's own death. But typically this form of meditation tends to involve reciting sounds without content or visualizing things like geometrical figures. Technical forms of meditation can also be more physical and focus on breathing techniques and movements -- as in yoga.

It can also involve specific ways of focusing one's attention, such as including and accepting all impressions. Eifring thinks that one of the reasons for the difference between Asiatic and Western meditation is that the Western religions place far more emphasis on a personal relationship with God.

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The religious element is not only reflected in the individual's relationship with God or the Gods, it is also part of a greater whole. This may have resulted in a greater freedom in regards to how religious practices are to be carried out," he says. Nobody quite knows when meditation first came into being. But in Indian sources, meditation is described from around B. In such a scenario, it becomes pertinent to examine how mindfulness is conceptualized in a particular study and the psychological variables used to measure the efficacy.

It is often overlooked that most meditation techniques in the originating disciplines were not promulgated as stress reduction methods alone. In many traditional contexts, a wide variety of preparatory measures and practices were considered essential before being introduced to meditation techniques. There are many techniques, involving body postures and activities, mental imagery to sounds, and chanting accompanied by fragrant and calm environs, that may facilitate certain brain changes. The preparatory methods comprised several stages within disciplines like Yoga consisting of many steps, including moral and psychological training, posture practice, breath modulation, diet, and behavioral recommendations, among others as described in PYS Karambelkar, , Hathapradipika of Swatmarama Digambaraji and Kokaje, , GoraksaSatakam Kuvalayananda and Shukla, , Gheranda Samhita Digambarji and Gharote, , and Shiv Samhita Maheshanandji et al.

These preliminary practices were followed by relaxation techniques, mediated through the autonomic nervous system, which then prepared a subject for introduction to meditation techniques. While the techniques by themselves are quite varied and aim to bring about an attentive state of OM of physiological and mental events without judgment, it bears repeating that the techniques themselves are different from the state. In such a scenario, it may be pertinent to tease apart the relaxation changes brought about by techniques and the neuro-behavioral changes associated with the state of meditation itself, and studies should clearly identify them as such.

The failure to distinguish between the state versus the technique of meditation contributes to the confusion in the field Rao, Meditation is commonly promoted as a way to reduce stress, bring about relaxation, and even manage mental health issues like depression. There are widespread courses conducted for classrooms, prisons, and hospitals with the underlying belief and assumption that it is good and safe for everyone and that most people are ready for it.

While a majority of meditation teachers with varied techniques, prescribe meditation for a wide variety of psycho-spiritual ailments, it remains to be seen if the techniques on their own bring about expected results. While basic techniques like watching the breath may not be complicated for many, others that include vigorous activity, sound based, or mental imagery, might not be equally risk-free. A number of studies have documented negative side-effects induced by meditation and relaxation-based methods Transcendental meditation on blood pressure : Canter and Ernst, ; Relaxation-associated panic attacks : Cohen et al.

Thus, in addition to finding an appropriate technique, safety, and efficacy also remain important starting points before meditation is publicized as a panacea for restoring mental health and well-being. It would be worthwhile to point out that in the modern setting, while meditation is being proposed and taught in clinical settings to bring about physical well-being, mental health, and to enhance cognitive and other skills; in the traditional context, however, physical and mental well-being are pre-requisites to begin meditation practice.

Recently, in a meta-analysis, Eberth and Sedlmeier reported large differences in the effect sizes reported for MBSR versus mindfulness meditation. Other reasons include a focus on psychological health rather than higher mental states, and differences between the participant groups people attending MBSR courses for stress reduction might differ from people visiting a meditation center to attain wisdom or higher mental states. Another aspect of meditation research involves measuring the quantity or dosage of meditation. Various studies report that meditation-related benefits are associated with the amount of practice a person has undertaken with the aim that repeated sustained practice leads to beneficial effects; Concentration meditation : Brefczynski-Lewis et al.

A number of studies report the total number of years, while others detail the total hours usually in thousands that a meditator has engaged in meditation. Comparing meditators from FA and OM styles with controls, Chan and Woollacott report that the amount of time spent meditating each day is a stronger predictor of attention performance, compared to the greater number of hours of meditative practice over a lifetime.

This quantification, though useful, assumes that meditation is a single state wherein the duration of time spent practicing amounts to meditation experience. Such quantification ignores the concept of depth of meditation as well as the possible levels of depth involved in the experience. In a study of sustained attention-based meditation, Brefczynski-Lewis et al.

Recently, there have been some reports on the efficacy of short-term meditation on brain function Tang et al. A number of traditional meditation practices are known to have demanded dedicated effort and time for several years to obtain and maintain a steady, detached, witnessing state of mental functioning Thera, ; Gunaratana, It still needs to be established how the expectations of immediate and quick results collate with the long-term commitment for dedicated, continued practice in the traditional context. This would enable some guidelines regarding an efficacious dosage for therapeutic purposes in clinical settings.

As of now, no unique behaviors and neurophysiological patterns have been documented to be specific to meditation, making it difficult to gage the extent to which meditation practice changes behavioral or neural structure. Rao has argued that current meditation research focusing solely on short term practice and efficacy of meditation for health benefits may be mistaking the chaff for the wheat. Forsaking the important issue of defining the terms properly in a neuroscientific context, several studies cite from non-peer-reviewed publications and offer translations of texts from religious or spiritual traditions.

Meditation research findings have not been discussed in the larger philosophical contexts of how and where the fit is, vis-a-vis the current notions of brain-mind identity or supervenience theory that forms the bedrock of cognitive neuroscience today Damasio, ; Feldman Barrett, Instead of ignoring the philosophy, it is essential to revisit the underlying ontological positions from the philosophical doctrines of meditation practice.

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  4. It is important to note that there is no implication that the investigation of neural correlates implies any specific stand on the mind-body problem, nor that any particular stance would be useful. A large and growing body of work is being carried out that aims to provide a framework of functional and structural brain activity associated with meditation practice.

    It seems that more than a confusion of labels, there is the lack of a theoretical foundation — a philosophical grounding — for the neuroscience of meditation to develop firm roots in order to flourish and bear fruit. While most meditation research has explored the psychological and neuroscientific perspective, little work has been carried out at the philosophico-literary level. As outlined in this article, the lack of understanding reflected in the definition issue impacts research design in this area, and contributes to other problems such as a scarcity of replication studies.

    This further exacerbates into a failure to address important questions like: how does meditation bring about changes at the neural, cognitive, and behavioral level? Prior to drawing any causal inference, Moonesinghe et al. So far, there have been sparse attempts to consolidate research findings from a conceptual, psychological, and neural perspective. In a review, combining concepts like attention and emotional regulation, body and self-awareness, Holzel et al.

    This review, however, does not account for or include the philosophical underpinnings of meditation practice, neither in the neuroscientific context, nor in the traditional ontology. Such theories regard consciousness and higher mental processes as a result of integrated activities in local areas of the brain, each contributing specific functions to the global activity pattern.

    It should be noted, however, that the mind-body ontology in classical Yoga texts is dualist and is not in agreement with modern approaches that equate consciousness and mind as a result of brain activity. The foundational principles of Yoga are based on Samkhya philosophy which is explicitly dualist i. Various meditative practices are reported to induce a wide variety of altered states of consciousness. It is thus frequently claimed that the study of meditation will contribute to our general understanding of the neural basis of consciousness.

    However, how the phenomenology of meditation relates to the prevalent information-processing concept of the mind still remains an area open for examination and debate.

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    Beyond developing a theory of physical embodiment, seeking causal explanations within a neural implementation might be at odds with the dualist framework of several foundational contemplative traditions. In the context of meditation research, before proceeding further with more empirical investigations, it is nonetheless essential to examine the philosophical context in which the meditation practices originate. In the absence of conceptual tools, theoretical models and the underlying ontological basis, the field may not progress beyond finding some psychological and neural correlates.

    With no clear external referents, or gold-standard measures with which to verify various meditative practices, there is a need for conceptual rigor in developing theoretical models consistent with the traditional ontology and to develop testable hypotheses in accordance with cognitive neuroscience methods. Ioannidis , p. Instead of ignoring the first-person methodologies from traditional psychology, it might serve better, the cause of developing a comprehensive science of meditation, to integrate them with the third-person methodologies of neuroscience.

    Sedlmeier et al. In the absence of proper theoretical grounding, alternative explanations seem to overshadow the veracity and reliability of the results. Since, the dependent measures examined in the vast majority of studies still lack precision see Sedlmeier et al. In the pursuit of measuring psycho-physical correlates of meditation, the psychological, physiological, and behavioral measures currently employed by researchers may not be specific to the particular meditation sub-type. An in-depth study within the philosophico-literary aspects of meditation can help propose testable hypotheses within the scientific domain.

    Different stages of meditation have been extensively discussed in the traditional texts and post philosophico-literary deliberation, these could be useful to develop testable hypothesis within the neuroscientific domain. Comparative studies exploring differences between various approaches and practitioners from various traditions might serve to provide useful pilot data to delineate neurophysiological differences across the spectrum.

    Further, in agreement with suggestions by Sedlmeier et al.

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    5. Chiesa has re-iterated the overlap between the concept of mindfulness and related concepts of equanimity, ethics, wisdom, compassion etc. Further, exploration of context-effects, non-attentional components such as sensory deprivation or enhancement methods, chaotic versus relaxed breathing and moral disciplines could be very useful.

      Since, there are likely to be several stages involved in meditation sub-types, findings from single case studies as well as group comparisons might add valuable contributions to the field.

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      Neuroscience to-date has focused mainly on the third-person, neuro-behavioral side of the explanatory gap within the mind-body problem. By not giving sufficient attention to the ways in which meditation has been interpreted, developed, and expounded in the original sources, meditation researchers neglect and misunderstand important aspects of the method.

      A fruitful avenue of research might be to investigate aspects of meditation using a definition that could possibly do justice to both contemplative traditions and modern cognitive neuroscience. Here, the challenge for a comprehensive account of meditation may not be to show that the inferences from one or the other tradition are false, but rather how the perspectives adopted by these traditions might offer useful, complementary insights into the nature of the phenomena of mental training.

      Attempts to include the phenomenological account of meditation will help ascertain and formulate a clear and operational definition for making progress. In agreement with Lutz and Thompson , it might be useful to adopt a neurophenomenological approach that can be used to guide the study of physiological processes.

      An integration of traditional ontology, first-person phenomenological reports and neuroscientific findings will enable the development of more comprehensive models of the mind to help find common grounds for scientific research with the contemplative traditions. It will foster better study designs, leading to conclusive findings that could potentially be developed into systematic therapeutic interventions, besides fostering an interesting and important avenue of research into the mind-body problem.

      The author declares that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest. National Center for Biotechnology Information , U. Journal List Front Psychol v. Front Psychol. Published online Jan Author information Article notes Copyright and License information Disclaimer. This article was submitted to Frontiers in Consciousness Research, a specialty of Frontiers in Psychology.

      Received Jul 13; Accepted Dec This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in other forums, provided the original authors and source are credited and subject to any copyright notices concerning any third-party graphics etc. This article has been cited by other articles in PMC. Abstract Despite the growing interest in the neurobiological correlates of meditation, most research has omitted to take into account the underlying philosophical aspects of meditation and its wider implications.

      Keywords: meditation, definition, neural correlates, consciousness, contemplative practice. Introduction In recent years, research on neural correlates of meditation and its efficacy in clinical settings has seen a growing trend. Definition Issues A key concern in neuroscientific investigations of meditation processes is the lack of an operational definition. Meditation as Relaxation In the early days of research on meditation, relaxation was the key conceptual factor. Meditation as Attention While early studies ascribed the practices of relaxation and focusing attention to meditation, a few recent attempts have been made to delineate the specific psychological processes implicated in these two practices and to derive neurofunctional predictions.

      Meditation as Mindfulness More recently, mindfulness has been proposed as a cognitive behavioral, rather than physiological, paradigm for meditation. Study Design Issues For an objective examination of the correlates of any stimulus or mental task or phenomena on behavioral or neurological changes, the characteristics of the stimulus in question have to be tightly controlled and characterized with utmost precision.

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      Technique Versus State Many researchers also seem to confuse the technique of meditation with the state of meditation. One Size Fits All? Summary and Conclusion A large and growing body of work is being carried out that aims to provide a framework of functional and structural brain activity associated with meditation practice.

      Conflict of Interest Statement The author declares that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest. References Aftanas L. Human anterior and frontal midline theta and lower alpha reflect emotionally positive state and internalized attention: high resolution EEG investigation of meditation. The physiological correlates of kundalini yoga meditation: a study of a yoga master.

      Biofeedback 26 , — Theta activity and meditative states: spectral changes during concentrative meditation. Process 11 , 31— Spectral analysis of the EEG in meditation. An investigation of brain processes supporting meditation. Process 11 , 57— State effects of two forms of meditation on prefrontal EEG asymmetry in previously depressed individuals.

      Mindfulness N.