Although meditation is typically practiced in a religious context, the main principals can also be applied to life in a more general way.
Research from the University of Exeter found that meditation lowers the level of stress hormone ‘cortisol’ and can treat chronic depression as effectively as taking drugs.
Scientists in the U.S. found that meditating for an hour could relieve chronic pain, and MRI scans show that when Buddhist monks meditate, the structure of their brain physically changes.
So how does meditation work and what does it involve? Meditation, or as the psychologists prefer to call it – ‘mindfulness practice’ – is a way of letting go of the brain’s ‘busyness’ to fully experience ‘the moment’.
Prof. Mark Williams, director of the Oxford Mindfulness Centre, likened meditation to the state a cat might find itself in when it lies on a rug in front of a fire. It is not thinking about the events of the day or worrying about what’s going to happen tomorrow – it is simply aware of the present moment – of being warm and relaxed beside the hypnotic flames.
Meditation, like going to the gym, takes discipline and regular practice. Prof. Willem Kuyken, co-founder of the Exeter Mindfulness network said: “People quickly learn that on the mornings that they meditate, they enjoy their day more, interact better with people at work, are more motivated and their mind is calmer.”
Meditation is an excellent way to relax after a stressful day, or to prepare yourself for a challenging event. To find a therapist specialising in meditation, simply type ‘meditation’ into the ‘search entire site’ box in the top right-hand corner of this page.
View and comment on the original Telegraph article.