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Meditation Research

What is consciousness? What is meditation?

 

Consciousness, at its simplest, is sentience or awareness of internal and external existence.

Meditation is the delicate and effortless art of simply existing. Beyond all the chatter and noise in our mind, there is a silent, peaceful, blissful, beautiful space that exists in all of us, a place of pure consciousness. Turning our attention to this silent chamber within is meditation; this silence cleanses the mind, giving it a much-needed rest, and makes room for better perceptions and new ways of looking at life and its challenges.

  • What is the main purpose of meditation?
     

In ancient times, meditation was essentially a spiritual practice with an ultimate goal of self-realization or enlightenment. The history of meditation dates back several thousand. The first record of meditation (dhyana - Sanskrit word for meditation) exists in the ancient Hindu texts known as The Vedas. Since then, in the 19th-century Asian or Buddhist meditative techniques were spread throughout the world to other cultures and have found application to non-spiritual purposes like health and well-being, advanced research studies have backed multiple health benefits of meditation, which are manifold. Meditation is not just a temporary technique for stress relief: it also changes the brain and improves physical well-being and emotional health. The greatest benefit of meditation is the brain-heart coherence that occurs as a result. (See video below on Brain-Heart coherence).

  • Scientific Research on Meditation - Dr. Joe Dispenza & Quantum Neuroscience


In the last ten years, Dr. Dispenza's scientific team has made great strides to demonstrate to people that true lasting change is possible, using evidence compiled from thousands of brain scans and HRV testing, as well as testing gene expression, immune regulation, cellular metabolism, and longevity measurements. Through their work, they have created a formula that shows how to induce, predict, and replicate certain states, and that once learned, these states can be applied to greater and greater depths of human potential. (Read more about Dr. Dispenza's scientific research here).

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  • Scientific Research on Meditation - Sudarshan Kriya Yoga Breathwork Meditation
     

Sudarshan Kriya and accompanying breathing practices, referred to collectively as SKY and taught through the Art of Living Foundation worldwide, have been found to enhance brain, hormone, immune and cardiovascular system function. Published research shows that SKY significantly reduces stress, depression, anxiety and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and significantly increases well-being both mentally and physically. Research also demonstrates that the effects of SKY reach to the molecular level (DNA). Over 100 independent studies conducted on four continents and published in peer reviewed journals, have demonstrated a comprehensive range of benefits from SKY practice. (Read FULL research findings here).

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Mental Well-being

Restoration and Enhancement of Mental Health:

  • Relieved anxiety [1-10] & depression [2, 4, 8-19], PTSD symptoms [3, 15, 16, 20] and stress levels [4, 6, 17, 18, 21-23]

    • significant reductions in anxiety  are found in many populations, including a 73% response rate and 41% remission rate in individuals for whom medication and psychotherapy treatments had failed [1].

    • Multiple studies demonstrate that depressed patients who learned SKY experienced a 68-73% remission rate within 1 month.

    • Significant reductions in PTSD symptoms were found in 4-6 weeks and were sustained at 6 months[15] and one year, with no follow-up after 1 month [3, 15].

  • Reduces impulsivity and addictive behaviors [24, 25]

  • Improved emotional regulation [1, 17, 18, 26-28]

  • Increased levels of self-esteem, optimism, joviality (e.g. joy, happiness, energy), serenity, life satisfaction and quality of life [4, 5, 15, 18, 28-30]

  • Enhanced brain functioning - increased mental focus/heightened awareness [31], faster recovery from stressful stimuli [22], [13, 14]

  • Improve quality of sleep - restoration of time spent in deep restful stages (stages III and IV) of sleep. [32]

Physical Well-being

Enhanced immune function, cardiovascular function, respiratory function, and biochemical status:

Sudarshan Kriya uses specific cyclical, rhythmic patterns of breath to bring the mind and body into a relaxed, yet energized state. Its effects have been studied in open and randomized trials, both in healthy and health-compromised populations. Research suggests that SKY reduces depression, anxiety, PTSD and stress. It has also been shown to curb addictive behaviors and substance abuse. It significantly increases feelings of well-being, optimism and mental focus and improves emotion regulation. In addition, SKY is associated with enhanced cardio-respiratory function, antioxidant status and immune system function. The practice has even been shown to impact gene expression at short and long term periods. The wide range of documented benefits suggest that SKY may be an efficient tool for rapidly strengthening the mind-body complex:
 

  • Reduced biochemical markers of stress: cortisol [2, 33, 34], corticotrophin [2] blood lactate [35],ACTH [2], and plasma malondialdehyde (MDA) [2, 36, 37]

    • Blood lactate levels in police cadets who did not learn SKY were 4 times higher than their classmates who were randomized to learn SKY, suggesting a greatly increased resilience to stress in SKY practitioners.

    • Since stressful physiological responses negatively impact immune, cardiovascular and endocrine systems, as well as mental health, this has significant implications for wellness [16].
       

  • Increased biomarkers of well-being [38]

    • Significant increases (33%) in the well-being hormone prolactin levels in depressed patients with low prolactin levels from the very first session.

    • Increased levels of antioxidant enzymes (glutathione, catalase, and superoxide dismutase) [6, 35, 39]

      • Reduced heart rate in both healthy and health compromised individuals [42-44][6]

      • Reduced blood pressure

        • In both healthy and health compromised individuals [6, 37, 42, 43]

      • Improved cholesterol and triglyceride (lipid) profiles: [36][6, 21]

        • Sometimes seen as early as 3 weeks, with no change in diet [36]

      • Improved respiratory function: [3, 43-46]

        • respiration rate dropped by 5% in 1 week [3] and 15% in 12 weeks [45]

        • increased lung (vital/forced vital) capacity [43, 44, 46]
           

      • Improved immune cell counts in apparently healthy individuals [21, 25]

        • Some documented within 3 weeks (neutrophils, lymphocytes, platelet count) [21]

      • Improved immune cell counts in health compromised individuals seen in 12 weeks (Natural Killer Cells) [25]

      • Rapid changes to genes (the building blocks of DNA) expression [39-41]

        • SKY induced changes in the expression of genes in white blood cells (our immune cells) within two hours of starting the practice.

        • Long-term effects of SKY on expression of 11 genes related to oxidative stress, DNA damage, cell cycle control, and cell death suggests that the long-term benefits of SKY may be mediated in part by regulation of gene expressions [39].

"Meditation may provide a sense of calm, peace and balance that benefits both emotional well-being and overall health." Reference: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/meditation/HQ01070

More Scientific Benefits of Meditation

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