There have been numerous scientific studies done on the benefits of meditation. This morning I saw yet another article publicizing new findings. It turns out that “meditators seem to be able switch off areas of the brain associated with daydreaming as well as psychiatric disorders such as autism and schizophrenia”. Personally, I find this to be very interesting. I don’t know if I’m an “accomplished meditator” yet but I’ve spent enough time in meditation to no longer know how many hours it has been. I do know that when I am meditating I do notice that my brain does seem easier to understand and I am able to work with my mind in ways that I cannot when I am not in a meditative state.
The most apparent this kind of change meditation can have on the mind came to me in October when I went on a Zen retreat. It was two days of meditation and when I left the retreat, I was amazed with the clarity and control I had over my mind. The experience was incredibly motivating for me to continue in my practice and to continue to meditate as much as is possible.
Personally, I am also using meditation as I deal with depression and the mental fog that comes along with it. I am taking medication to treat it but I have found that when I combine it with meditation, I am much better equipped to handle the twisted reality that depression presents to those who suffer from it. There are times when I am feeling particularly down or feeling miserable about things and I remember to stop and to spend time in meditation.
As I breathe in, I focus on whatever is causing me pain. I breathe in the pain or anger or sadness or whatever else I’m feeling and breathe out a long, cleansing “Don’t Know” in response to that pain. This “don’t know” meditation is encouraged in the Kwan Um School of Zen in which I am a member. It serves as a focal point to bring my mind back to its original state. I repeat this process four or five times and this brings my mind back to a state where whatever I am struggling with seems much more manageable.
I am personally very interested in finding out more about the meditative influence on disorders like Asperger’s and Autism. As a parent of a child with Asperger’s, I am always on the lookout for things that may allow our child to process the world that they see and to deal with it in a way that allows them to integrate with it. Meditative techniques may be another tool in our arsenal of ways to bring our child out of their shell.
I think the verdict is in that meditation is healthy and beneficial for a well balanced life. Now, the evidence just keeps piling up in new ways to demonstrate just how beneficial it can be. If you do not have a meditation practice, I encourage you to find one. You will be thankful that you did.
- Meditation Can ‘Turn Off’ Regions of the Brain (nlm.nih.gov)
- Meditation May Help Brain Tune Out Distractions (webmd.com)
- How Meditation Eases Psychiatric Disorders (huffingtonpost.com)
- Meditation May Help Brains Rewire, Protect Against Mental Illness – KGO-AM810 (kgoam810.com)