Scores of research studies have demonstrated positive effects of meditation on biological, neurological, mental, emotional, social and behavioral well- being of the mediation practitioners. A research study done at Emory University in Atlanta confirms the residual effects of two forms of Meditation. Mindfulness Meditation and Loving Kindness Compassion Meditation. The first group was designed to cultivate skills of focused attention and non-judgmental awareness of breathing, bodily sensations, thoughts and, emotions. The second group was designed to cultivate loving kindness meditation. Twelve participants in each group who had not gone through Meditation training before were the subjects of the research study. One group went through 8 weeks of Mindfulness Meditation training program. The other group went through 8 weeks of Loving Kindness Compassion Meditation training program. The third control group took a health education course for eight weeks.
There were 12 participants in each group. Three weeks before the study began, the study participants were administered fMRI (functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging}. The brain scan provided baseline data of the study participants.
Three weeks after the training program the participants in each group were administered fMRI (Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging test. The participants of both meditation groups showed decrease in the right amygdala in response to emotional stimuli. Amygdala plays an important part in emotion and memory. The participants were given an assessment tool to check the symptoms of depression, anxiety and stress before they went through meditation training. They were given the same symptoms assessment test after they completed their meditation training. The decrease in the amygdala activity is correlated with decreased depression and anxiety scores. Meditation helped the meditators for creating emotional stability. When the participants in the Loving Kindness and Compassion Meditation were shown images depicting some form of suffering, they showed enhancement in compassion for the people going through suffering. Showing compassion for others may also be beneficial not only for the receiver but also for the giver. Both groups showed remarkable reduction of stress symptoms.
The findings showed the positive and enduring effects of meditation. The studies show that both forms of meditation result in enduring changes in the brain function, especially in the area of emotional processing.
Spending twenty minutes a day to practice Mindfulness Meditation is very beneficial for our mental and emotional wellness. It lays a good foundation for living clearly and peacefully.
We are a social being. We have a need to belong to, to be connected, to take care and to be taken care of, to share our dreams, joys and sorrows. We create a social net work, a world of relationships of all kinds. The closer the relationships, the greater are the challenges and opportunities for growth and development. A big challenge in interpersonal relationship is how to work through differences without causing emotional distances. What do we do to create and sustain bridges instead of walls? How do we communicate as I to I rather than I vs. I or I and It?
This is where the practice of Mindfulness Meditation comes into play.
Create personal space and time for processing the inner stuff by recognizing (awareness) and staying with it(attending) non-judgmentally, non-critically, without reacting , accepting it. This needs to be done gently, patiently and compassionately. We do not get stuck with or dwell on the energy draining recurring negative stuff. We are making a shift from fight, flight and freeze stress response zone to a stress free flowing zone. We are on the path to wellness. We are coming out of the cloudy sky to a clear sky. A wholesome understanding and insight arise from the clear mind. Right knowing leads to right speech and right action. We get numerous opportunities in our daily life to practice mindfulness meditation. We do not hold onto and accumulate negative stress resulting in self and other hurting behaviors.
The same procedure needs to be used when we encounter differences in intimate and important relationships. We follow the same procedure as a couple or as parents, teachers or friends and colleagues. We need to create space within ourselves and between ourselves to create and sustain I to I mode of communication resulting in we-together- mode of communication. We get numerous opportunities to work on ourselves personally and interpersonally.
So let us do it.
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