East Meets West

Meditation of one style or another can be found in most of the major religions, including Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism and Islam. Eastern religions tend to concentrate on Meditation as a means of developing spiritual enlightenment and as a pathway to experiencing ultimate reality, whereas in the West it's primarily used as tool for self development, and as a means of reducing stress and improving one's health and wellbeing.

The many different religious traditions in the world have given rise to a rich variety of meditative practices which include the contemplative practices of Christian religious orders, the Buddhist practice of sitting meditation, and the whirling movements of the Sufi dervishes. Although Meditation is an important practice in many religious and spiritual traditions, it can be practiced by anyone regardless of their religious or cultural background.

Meditation and Health

As Western medical practitioners begin to understand the mind's role in health and disease, there's been rising interest in the use of Meditation in medicine, and meditative practices are increasingly being recommended in clinics and hospitals, as a tool for improving health and quality of life. Meditation is also seen as a valuable addition in comprehensive treatment plans, and as a means of helping people with debilitating, chronic, or terminal illnesses.

During Meditation, the brain's activity (as mapped by a device known as an electroencephalograph) alters significantly. The most well-known brain waves evident during Meditation are called Alpha waves, and these accompany relaxation of the entire nervous system. Gamma, Delta and Theta brain waves accompany types of Meditation associated with various altered states of consciousness.

Scientific studies show that the regular practice of Meditation can be a powerful healing tool. People who meditate regularly have been shown to feel less anxiety and depression. They also report that they experience more enjoyment and appreciation of life, that their relationships are improved, and that they have a greater sense of calmness, empathy, and acceptance of self and others.

Regular Meditation can be used to treat a range of disorders, including Anxiety - Chronic Pain - Depression - Headaches - High Blood Pressure - Insomnia - Migraines - Stress - Life Threatening Illnesses. It can also be used with other forms of medical treatment and is an important complementary therapy for both the treatment and prevention of many stress-related conditions.

Based upon clinical evidence as well as theoretical understanding, Meditation is considered to be one of the better therapies for panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, substance dependence and abuse, ulcers, colitis, chronic pain, psoriasis, and dysthymic disorder. It is also considered to be a valuable therapy for hypertension (high blood pressure), prevention of heart attack, prevention of atherosclerosis (hardening of arteries), arthritis (including fibromyalgia), cancer, insomnia, migraine, and prevention of stroke.

It is also seen as a valuable complementary therapy for the treatment of allergies and asthma, since stress plays a considerable role in the advancement of these conditions. Additionally, meditative practices have been reported to improve function or reduce symptoms in patients with various neurological disorders. These include people with Parkinson's disease, people who experience fatigue with multiple sclerosis, and people with epilepsy who are resistant to standard treatment.

The Nervous System

Resting the mind has a dramatic effect on brain activity. When the brain moves into an Alpha wave state, many physiological changes occur, starting with the autonomic nervous system. One of the main roles of the autonomic nervous system is to regulate glands and organs without any effort from the conscious mind.

The autonomic nervous system is made up of two parts called the "Sympathetic" and the "Parasympathetic.' These systems act in opposite yet complementary ways. The Sympathetic nervous system stimulates the body, while the Parasympathetic calms it down.

Chronic stress or burnout can occur when the Sympathetic nervous system dominates for too long. During an Alpha wave state, the Parasympathetic half of the autonomic nervous system takes over, and this results in lowered blood pressure and heart rate, a reduction in stress hormones, and slowed metabolism.

If Meditation is practised regularly, these beneficial changes become relatively permanent, and whilst you can always pick up a book and try to master Meditation by yourself, a guided course with personal attention and support from an experienced teacher, will bring you far better results in a much shorter time.

For details of my 5 week eCourse, just click on http://www.Meditation-For-All.com

Author's Bio: 

Hi - my name's David. I'm 62 years old and I retired to Thailand 4 years ago. Much of my working life has been spent as a Life Coach and Motivational Trainer for companies all over the world. My passion for Meditation started at University when I was researching the practices and philosophies of Eastern cultures for a degree in Behavioral Sciences, and for over 30 years I've been teaching worldwide and refining my techniques under the guidance of different Masters.