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Meditation: Treatment, Procedure, Cost and Side Effects

Last Updated: Jul 05, 2024

What is the treatment?

Meditation or contemplation involves focusing the mind upon a sound, phrase, prayer, object, visualized image, the breath, ritualized movements, or consciousness in order to increase awareness of the present moment, promote relaxation, reduce stress , and enhance personal or spiritual growth.

Meditation produces a state of deep relaxation and a sense of balance, or equanimity. According to Michael J. Baime in Essentials of Complementary and Alternative Medicine, meditation allows one to fully experience intense emotions without losing composure. The consequence of emotional balance is greater insight regarding one's thoughts, feelings, and actions. Meditation also facilitates a greater sense of calmness, empathy, and acceptance of self and others.

Meditation is sometimes suggested as a complement to medical treatments of disease; in particular, it is an important complementary therapy for both the treatment and prevention of many stress-related conditions. Regular meditation may reduce the number of symptoms experienced by patients with a wide range of illnesses and disorders. Based upon clinical evidence, as well as theory, meditation is seen as an appropriate therapy for panic disorder , generalized anxiety disorder , substance dependence and abuse, ulcers, colitis, chronic pain, psoriasis, and dysthymic disorder—a disorder that involves a steady, depressed mood for at least two years. Moreover, meditation is a valuable adjunct therapy for moderate hypertension (high blood pressure), prevention of cardiac arrest (heart attack), prevention of atherosclerosis(hardening of the arteries), arthritis (including fibromyalgia), cancer, insomnia, migraine, and stroke . It is a complementary therapy for moderating allergies and asthma because it reduces stress, which is prevalent in these conditions. Additionally, meditation may improve function or reduce symptoms of patients with neurologic disorders such as Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, and epilepsy.

How is the treatment done?

Meditation evolved into a range of purposes and practices, from serenity and balance to access to other realms of consciousness to the concentration of energy in group meditation to the supreme goal of Samadhi, as in the ancient yogic practice of meditation.

Sahaja yoga meditation is regarded as a mental silence meditation, and has been shown to correlate with particular brain and brain wave activity. Some studies have led to suggestions that Sahaja meditation involves 'switching off' irrelevant brain networks for the maintenance of focused internalized attention and inhibition of inappropriate information.

Some studies offer evidence that mindfulness practices are beneficial for the brain's self-regulation by increasing activity in the anterior cingulate cortex. A shift from using the right prefrontal cortex is claimed to be associated with a trend away from depression and anxiety, and towards happiness, relaxation, and emotional balance. Jacobson's Progressive Muscle Relaxation was developed by American physician Edmund Jacobson in the early 1920s. In this practice one tenses and then relaxes muscle groups in a sequential pattern whilst concentrating on how they feel.

Various postures are taken up in some meditation techniques. Sitting, supine, and standing postures are used. Popular in Buddhism, Jainism and Hinduism are the full-lotus, half-lotus, Burmese, Seiza, and kneeling positions. Meditation is sometimes done while walking, known as kinhin, or while doing a simple task mindfully, known as samu.

Direction of mental attention... A practitioner can focus intensively on one particular object (so-called concentrative meditation), on all mental events that enter the field of awareness (so-called mindfulness meditation), or both specific focal points and the field of awareness.

One style, Focused Attention (FA) meditation, entails the voluntary focusing of attention on a chosen object. The other style, Open Monitoring (OM) meditation, involves non-reactive monitoring of the content of experience from moment to moment.

Most of the ancient religions of the world have a tradition of using some type of prayer beads as tools in devotional meditation. Each bead is counted once as a person recites a mantra until the person has gone all the way around the mala. Specific meditations of each religion may be different.

Who is eligible for the treatment? (When is the treatment done?)

Meditation has profound impacts on lowering stress, cortisol levels and numerous health conditions related to the negative effects of stress. Meditation has profound impacts on lowering stress, cortisol levels and numerous health conditions related to the negative effects of stress.

Studies show that meditation helps give people hope and a sense of empowerment when they otherwise feel overwhelmed in the face of serious illnesses. Meditation is used as a natural intervention for cancer patients and has shown consistent benefits, including: improved psychological functioning, enhanced coping and well-being in cancer outpatients, better quality of life, physiological improvements and health-related outcomes.

Who is not eligible for the treatment?

People with physical limitations may not be able to participate in certain meditative practices involving movement.

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Are there any side effects?

There are negative side effects that no one ever talks about. 'Meditation can leave you feeling even more stressed,' the Daily Mail reports. Considering that many of us rarely sit alone with our thoughts, it isn’t hard to see how this might lead to difficult thoughts and emotions rising to the surface for some people – which we may, or may not, be equipped to deal with. Classical Buddhist literature discusses potential pitfalls of mindfulness and meditation, such as makyō (hallucinations) and 'Zen sickness' – a sense of imbalance and loss of identity.

Some people – especially if they practice intensive meditation for many hours, such as on a retreat – have challenging or difficult experiences. Some religious teachers within Buddhism say these can be part of the path of the religious experience. However, for people doing meditation hoping to experience health benefits, without a religious context, these experiences can be unexpected and difficult to deal with.

What are the post-treatment guidelines?

After the practice: Drink plenty of water to help the purification process; Listen to your body, to your thoughts and to your emotions; Use long deep breathing to release tensions of any kind; Integrate in your daily actions what you learn during the practice; Maintain a graceful posture and observe the rhythm of your breath.

How long does it take to recover?

The body does not need time to recover from meditation, but you need some time to absorb the impact that meditation is having on your well-being and time to get used to the idea of making it part of your life routine. Take it slowly, and you will probably be more likely in the long term to stick with it.

What is the price of the treatment in India?

It varies from Rs. 500 to Rs. 2000 per month. Moreover, if along with meditation, yoga and other exercice classes are included, it will cost more.

Are the results of the treatment permanent?

Frequent and long-term meditation brings you to a more permanent state of well-being and emotional stability.

What are the alternatives to the treatment?

Information not available

References

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Written ByDr. Milind Barhate MBBS,DPMPsychiatry
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