Meditation & Mental Health
By Joyce Cripps, MSA, Mar 7 2014 06:55PM
“We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts we make the world.”
— Sakyamuni Buddha, The Dhammapada 1:1, Trans. Thomas Byrom
Meditation and mindfulness training have been linked to improvement in mental and emotional health. New research has shown that meditation improves positive functioning long after meditation has ended (Pedersen, 2013). These results support the overarching hypothesis that meditation may result in “enduring, beneficial changes in brain function, especially in the area of emotional functioning,” (Pedersen, 2013).
Long term practice of mindful meditation results in reduced emotional reactivity and increased experience of compassion for others (Pedersen, 2013). Researchers also believe that meditation is the key in helping to ease the need for pharmaceutical drugs as well as dependency on drugs and alcohol. Mindfulness meditation has also been linked to regulate “brain rhythms” in ADHD and other disorders (Pedersen, 2013). The 8-week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction intervention has been shown to “alter functional neural responding to affective tasks in healthy individuals,” (Kilpatrick, Suyenobu, Smith, Bueller, Goodman, Creswell, Tillisch, Mayer & Nailboff, 2011).
What exactly is mindfulness? Some of the more common definitions describe mindfulness as “intentionally directing attention toward the present moment and adopting an accepting, nonjudgmental, and/or nonreactive orientation, intent or attitude,” (Lykins, 2009). Mindfulness developed out of eastern spiritual ideologies and has seen exponential growth in the clinical doman in recent years (Lykins, 2009). People who practice mindfulness and meditation report a reduction in suffering and increases in “awareness, insight, wisdom, compassion and equanimity,” (Lykins, 2009).
At Partners in Change we offer an 8-week mindfulness based stress management group. This type of therapy helps the client to better understand the practice and to learn the tools needed to incorporate mindfulness and meditation into their everyday life.
Mindfulness for stress management can help people who have stress-related diseases like anxiety, depression and addiction, as well as physical diseases, like heart problems or cancer (Neale, 2006). Using this approach in addition to other forms of clinical or pharmaceutical treatment can have a positive impact on healing (Neale, 2006).
Kilpatrick, L. A., Suyenobu, B. Y., Smith, S. R., Bueller, J. A., Goodman, T., Creswell, J. D., Tillisch, K., Mayer, E. A. & Nailboff, B.D., (2011). Impact of mindfulness-based stress reduction training on intrinsic brain connectivity. NeuroImage, 56, 290-298.
Lykins, E.L.B., (2009). Effects of mindfulness and meditation experience on cognitive and emotional functioning and ego depletion. College of Arts and Sciences, University of Kentucky. Retrieved from http://0-search. proquest.com.catalog. lib.cmich.edu/docview /915547639?accountid= 10181. (915547639).
Neale, M.I., (2006). An integration of perspectives from buddhism, science and clinical psychology. California institute of Integral Studies. Retrieved from: http://0-search.proquest.com.catalog.lib.cmich.edu/docview/622013745/14349279B52227E03A1/1?accountid=10181
Pedersen, T., (2013). Meditation’s effects on emotion shown to persist. Psych Central. Retrieved from: http://psychcentral.com/news/2013/06/23/meditations-effects-on-emotion-shown-to-persist/56372.html