MEDITATION AND MENTAL HEALTH: WHAT’S THE RELATION?
February 25, 2021
Okay, okay, I know what you’re thinking: “Grace, not you too! All this meditation stuff seems like a load of bull crap. It can’t fix all my problems!”
And to that, I’d agree. Personally, I’ve never really took the time to meditate, but I did want to do some research into the topic. Perhaps it could benefit someone like you or me.
I don’t think meditation is a fix-all thing, but I also don’t think it’d hurt to try, especially since so many of us have found ourselves with a lot of time on our hands.
The first thing I wanted to speak about was actually published in the Harvard Gazette.
Basically, it speaks about the findings of a neuroscientist when she decided to record the changes that can be seen in the brain in relation to mindful meditation.
By the way, mindful meditation is “…a type of meditation in which you focus on being intensely aware of what you’re sensing and feeling in the moment, without interpretation or judgment,” according to Mayo Clinic.
What she found was that the amygdala was less activated after eight weeks of regular mindful meditation. The amygdala is the part of your brain that controls your emotions and emotional responses to things in your environment.
However, that study was done with someone who didn’t have any past mental illnesses.
When the same practices were studied in patients with depression, meditation “proved to be effective.” So, take with that what you will.
In a few studies cited by TM.org, mindful and transcendental meditation were even found to reduce anxiety in patients of all backgrounds (PTSD, chronic anxiety, etc.).
Transcendental meditation is basically a type of meditation that works toward achieving a state of relaxation and awareness. It’s the kind of meditation were you use a mantra and try to stay focused in the present.
The most notable thing the summary spoke about was the major reduction in patients with a lot of initial anxiety in the 80-100 percentile range, all the way down to around 64-53 percentile range.
What I said above just means that a patient’s anxiety level could go down from the highest level of anxiety able to be recorded to only about half, which is important for the patients that took part in the study.
Those studies have also been cited by Mental Health America as well.
There are plenty more studies out there that explain the benefits of meditation on people with mental illness and poor mental health, but the bottom line is there are some benefits if practiced correctly.
However, among the difficulties and problems that could be faced, one of the more common ones was the inability to focus on said meditation, or just genuinely being “too stressed” to take part in it.
So, meditation does have its difficulties like many other mental health practices do, but I encourage you to look further into it if you are curious.
The outcome will be different for everyone, so I suggest you find a style of meditation that works best for you and your current situation.