The Benefits of Meditation - A Nurse’s Perspective
It seems as though that there’s exponential growth in benefits of meditation, with something new being learned every day. In this next post, a psychiatric nurse tells her story about the benefits of meditation she’s found in her practice.
But before we go there, I thought I would share one benefit of meditation, which as the Dalai Lama put it, will make you a, “wise self-ish” person, and that benefit is lovingkindness.
Lovingkindness isn’t some ethereal practice, but the natural outcome of meditation, which now, has overwhelming scientific verification. The practice of lovingkindness is enlightened self-interest, because when we send love to others then we instantly receive the emotional benefit of experiencing love, courage, joy and hope and the corresponding physiological benefits that flood our bodies as the result of our emotional experiences.
These benefits of this type of meditation have shown up in as little as eight weeks in the form of discernable changes in brain matter which can be measured. However, it’s not about the scientific proof, it’s about the experience you have and the benefits that you feel.
And on that note I’m going to let Jeanne Millsap, the author of the post, tell the psychiatric nurse’s story…
“Christine Daniel, a behavioral health liaison nurse with Provena Saint Joseph Medical Center, said she’s been practicing meditation for a while and feels its calming, refreshing effects immediately.
“I usually get my best meditation times on vacation by the water,” she said. “Afterward, I feel like I’ve had the best sleep in my life.”
Research published in April in the medical journal, Brain Research Bulletin, found that meditation may actually modify alpha rhythm waves in the brain, which help regulate sensory input from the surrounding environment.
Previous research has found other changes in the body during meditative states. Studies even show a long-term health benefit from regular meditation — a reduction in the occurrence of depression for those who have the condition. Areas of the brain associated with learning and anxiety may actually undergo physical changes with daily meditation.
“Past studies show that it (meditation) does decrease anxiety, blood pressure, and stress levels,” Daniel said. “When you’re able to quiet your brain down, you slow down the whole neurochemical thing that’s happening.”
Daniel said that, especially today with all our social media, we are inundated with stimuli, and we don’t allow our bodies and minds to get a respite from it.
“So often, we’re just bombarded with input and stress,” she said, “and our bodies and minds never have that chance to decompress. Anytime you can quiet down and relax, your stress will go down and blood pressure will go down.”
Daniel said she has seen people with headaches and gastrointestinal problems feel better after meditating.
A psychiatrist she knows takes meditation breaks now and then during his practice to regroup during stressful times. She does, too, on occasion and finds it is a way to refresh and return to her life with a better attitude and feeling better.
It’s a great way to quiet the mind, she said.
“Meditation is especially good to help with anxiety or depression disorder,” she said.
Quiet the mind
Daniel emphasized those with serious medical problems should consult a physician, rather than try meditation first, but meditation in conjunction with medications and other therapy can work wonders.
Meditation is different for everyone, but Daniel said one thing all the various techniques have in common is to seek a quiet place within the mind.
“Some people start with prayer,” she said. “Some people have to be in a dark room. Some people can do it in a park. People find their own way to get into that quiet place within themselves.”
To achieve the most with meditation, Daniel advised doing it on a daily basis, even if only for five minutes, and to be consistent with it. It’s going to take some time to learn how to quiet your mind, she said.
To begin, she said, sit in a comfortable position for you. The classic position thought of for transcendental meditation is sitting cross-legged, but Daniel said any position is fine.”
So in the end, here’s another health professional using meditation to benefit her patients. Maybe we should all prescribe a healthy dose of lovingkindness and let that meditation bestow it’s benefits on all the relationships in our lives.
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