Meditation Can Help Our Mental Illness Problem - RiseEarth

Meditation Can Help Our Mental Illness Problem

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These days, the world moves very quickly and it is easy to get caught up in the tornado of living. The cycles of depression and anxiety are self-defeating, and always end up back at the pain in which they began if they are not broken. Many people choose prescription anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medications in a desperate attempt to break their destructive mental cycles, and sadly fall victim to the various detrimental side effects that these powerful drugs introduce.

There is a natural way to combat mental illness – meditation. The practice of meditation is a staple of Eastern philosophies and teachings, and finally in the 21st century, Western scientists are discovering exciting evidence confirming the benefits of this practice that have been known in the East for ages.

At Emory University in Atlanta, a study was conducted examining the volume of gray matter in the brains of a group following the practice of Zen meditation against a control group of people who did not meditate. Comparing the brain scans of the two groups revealed shocking results: although the gray matter of the control group deteriorated at a steady rate with age, the gray matter of the Zen meditation group did not reduce at all.

It was clear that meditation was able to protect this part of the brain and preserve its youthful function.
Meditation has also been shown to slow down the part of the brain called the amygdala, which controls stress. When the amygdala is overstimulated, the result is a very anxious, even hyperactive personality. Brain scans have confirmed that with meditation, the amygdala is able to return to optimal functioning, resulting in a more restful state of mind.

Recently, an amazing study by the University of Oxford’s Department of Psychiatry has revealed that while the centers controlling analytical thought and emotion usually work in an uncomfortably close proximity within the brain, leading to a cycle of over-thinking and unhealthy emotional rationalizing, the practice of meditation can actually train these two processes to become more independent. As a result, an individual’s thoughts and feelings become clearer, and he or she is able to better distinguish between the two.

The brain is constantly growing and changing, and shapes itself around the experiences, practices and patterns that it is exposed to. Meditation has been proven to result in calmer thought patterns, clearer decisions, lowered blood pressure and perhaps a way to find a still point in a tumultuous daily existence. The world would be a very different place if more people were to embrace mindfulness and make meditation a part of their daily routines.

Not sure where to start with meditation? Drop us a line in the comments and we’ll give you some help and pointers.

Source: The Alternative Daily
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