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Is there anything meditation CAN'T do?

I've been doing a bit of research on meditation lately for a project I have in the works.  I went in to this topic knowing the basics about meditation. There are over 200 types of meditation, in several general categories.   It's easy to do (you don't have to do it perfectly to benefit from it), and it creates a sense of relaxation and sometimes joy.  It can lower your blood pressure.   I didn't realize the extent of what meditation can do, and how much research has been poured in to this topic, particularly in the area of brain mapping.  


Meditation has been found to create structural and functional changes in the brain.  Meditation strengthens the Attentional Network while giving you more control over the Default Mode Network.  These are neural networks in your brain that assist with contrasting functions; in general, focused attention versus mind-wandering.  The Default Mode Network operates much like the "default mode" on a computer function; it automatically goes there.  In your brain this shows itself as ruminating, mind-wandering, reflective thoughts about an event or situation.  Meditation helps the practitioner to detach from their thoughts and attention away from emotionally charged ruminating.  This benefit emerges after just one session and the benefits over time are cumulative.  


Meditation can reduce cortisol levels, reduce epinephrine and norepinephrine release from the adrenal glands (all hormones related to the stress response).  Meditation can inhibit genetic expression of inflammatory related illnesses (cancer, diabetes, arthritis, IBS, for example) and decreases oxidative stress which helps cells function better.  Slow breathing activates the parasympathetic nervous system which produces the relaxation response.  (this is needed to bring system functioning back to baseline after a stress response). 


Meditation is used effectively with pain management, Mindfulness meditation-related pain reliefaddictions, anxiety, depression, inflammatory bowel disorders, sports training, to name a few.  But I found articles that support meditation's benefits for things like glaucoma (Mindfulness Meditation Can Benefit Glaucoma Patients 2019) , multiple sclerosis, cancer, stroke recovery, Alzheimer's.  


There is a wide range of meditation styles and categories.  If you have a hard time concentrating while sitting still you might want to start with yoga.  Having your whole body involved makes it so you can't help but stay engaged.  Your mind may wander, but changing and holding positions is sure to bring your mind back to the present.  At the end, you are rewarded with Shabasna, which is the final position, prone on the mat.  You should experience a very dreamy pleasant state, and you will have found the "sweet spot" that meditation aims to bring out.  


Once you've found that "sweet spot," you can start to be mindful of it coming into your awareness from time to time, even while doing ordinary activities. And the more you practice, the more you will be able to call up that state of relaxed detachment.  


Meditation is something that anybody  can do if they can think and breathe.  It takes relatively little time and equipment.  It only requires a peaceful comfortable setting.  Later on you may be able to practice meditation on your own with no script or external support, but for starters, you should either join a group, such as a yoga group, or follow some guided imagery found online.  


The Center for Mind-Body Medicine has a great website with a few excerpts that include some basic meditations.  The Center for Mind-Body Medicine offers workshops throughout the year.  I attended one and highly recommend it for professionals and non-professionals alike.  Here's a link to their website  https://cmbm.org/ 


Another great one is at www.headspace.com. They offer a series of free meditations.  After that, they charge a small monthly fee to continue.  So rather than grate you with my non-melodic voice, I encourage you to check out these websites for free samples of introductory meditations.

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