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Meditation is popular technique for clearing the mind and reducing stress. Actors can be seen doing it in television shows. They are often found sitting with their legs crossed, eyes closed and palms facing upwards. It is also the focus of jokes and used to make the audience laugh. When that happens, it seems to support the points made by some authors who claim that it is not very affective as a therapeutic instrument (Canter, 2003)
Meditation is associated with different cultures, religions and historical periods. For example, 5000 years ago there were Indian scriptures called “tantras” which mentioned meditation techniques. Despite the claim that meditation is not very helpful in treating stress-related conditions, meditation holds a strong grasp in history among the Hindu, Indian, Asian and (much later on) the Western hemisphere. Meditation takes on different forms and includes a technique known as mindfulness and transcendental. The claims that it truly helps people who have physical and mental illnesses or addictions will likely remain a hot topic of debate.
Although meditation classes are available in for people to attend in groups, it is something that many people do while alone in a quiet room. The thing that unites all cultures under the umbrella of this practice is the goal. The goal is to elevate the mind and bring it into harmonious balance with the body and spirit. From ancient times to the present day, people make meditation a popular form of art and therapy.
There are many things that a person can do to reduce stress. Exercise, laughing and adequate rest are just a few things that people try to implement into their routines to counteract the aggravations that come with daily living. Equally as popular as other relieving activities is the practice of meditation. There are different types of techniques depending on the culture in which it is practiced. For example, in addition to meditation there are also transcendental meditation and mindful meditation techniques.
Meditation is a practice that “includes techniques such as listening to a breath, repeating mantra or detaching from the thought process.” (Canter, 2003) During the times in which a person is meditating, they are trying to reach a state of calmness and inner self-awareness. Author Peter H. Canter explained in the British Medical Journal that meditation has not been proven affective because other scientists only showed a reduced heart rate or other physiological effects. He said that it fails to prove therapeutic value. However, his explanations speak loudly about his speculations and fail to validate his claims. Transcendental meditation involves the understanding that “there is a spiritual presence in all things.” (McIntyre, 2006) There is a spiritual connection that assembles a relationship between the nature and the spirit of all things. Understanding this idea transcends the physical body, its sensations and mental reasoning according to a German philosopher Immanuel Kant. (McIntyre, 2006). Practicing this technique allows the body to reach a deep state of relaxation leading to inner peace. However, it is possible that they would need to first buy into the principles of transcendentalism. The most sensible form of meditation is mindfulness. It specifies that a person can become “unstuck, back into touch with our own wisdom and vitality”. (Kabat-Zinn, 1994) Practicing mindfulness meditation lies at the root of Yoga, Buddhism and Taoism. Lastly, this form of meditation requires a systematic process whereby a person observes their thoughts and behaviors through self-inquiry and taking mindful action.
In summary, researching this topic has led to some interesting conclusions. First, meditation appears to require some discipline and understanding of one’s self. Secondly, it requires belief in the powers of the human spirit. Finally, the spiritual connection (or lack of it) to all things can affect a person’s ability to restore the mind through meditation techniques.
Canter, P. H. (2003). The therapeutic effects of meditation. British Medical Journal, 326(7398), 1049-1050. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/25454457
Kabat-Zinn, J. (1994). Wherever you go, there you are: Mindfulness meditation in everyday life. New York, NY: Hyperion.
McIntyre, C. (2006). Transcendentalism: A Belief in Spirit. The Thoreau Society Bulletin, 255, 2-3. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/23402437
Meditation instrument (Canter, 2003)
Canter, P. H. (2003). Th