A variety of Hollywood stars including Gwyneth Paltrow and Orlando Bloom are already dedicated to the art of meditation, and now Dr Rowan Williams, (Archbishop of Canterbury), has joined the high profile devotees.
The Archbishop of Canterbury has recently called for people to try meditation as an antidote to our consumerist society and the negative emotions it can cause. He was of course speaking from a religious point of view, however his general perception that meditation can help people deal with the stresses of modern life is one many would advise.
Meditation has its roots in religion, however these days it is being used increasingly as a way to treat modern ailments such as depression. Research from the University of Exeter from 2008 showed that the practice works just as well as drugs for chronic depression. The reason for this is that meditation lowers levels of cortisol, otherwise known as the stress hormone.
The act of meditation has also been suggested as a method of pain relief. A US study, (published in 2011), showed that practicing meditation for a little over an hour could help with the relief of chronic pain. MRI scans of Buddhist monks even indicated that the practice could alter the brain’s structure.
So what exactly is meditation and what does it involve? The act is essentially one of mindfulness and of being ‘in the moment’. The act of focusing on the here and now allows the mind to free itself from everyday worries. The end result is one of deep relaxation and a quiet mind. There are a variety of techniques, some involving equipment or music, some requiring no more that your ability to sit still.
To find out what other therapies could help with depression, please see our Therapy Topics page.
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