Meditation has been practiced for its medicinal properties since the early years of the human race. Its healing properties have long been unexplained--creating great curiosity about its wonderful effects on the human body and mind. Meditation is rooted from the Buddhist tradition and has two main categories of practice: concentrative and focused meditation. However, all forms of meditation are practiced in similar ways despite distinguishing names. The benefits of meditation are subjectively felt but are also backed with scientific proof. An individual may practice meditation sitting, laying down, or even in a yoga pose. Ongoing practice of meditation training enhances the immune system, promotes positive thinking, and improves concentration and focus. The meditation practices researched in this paper are mindfulness, loving-kindness, and prayer.
Having awareness of ones surroundings while accepting life’s current circumstances is the essence of mindfulness-based meditation training. The benefits that an individual may possess after regular practice can be measured and examined at the molecular level of the human body. Furthermore, the behaviors and attitude of the individual mature with great enthusiasm in everyday life. When performing mindfulness meditation, the individual seeks to silent the mind and become aware of every sense of the body. External factors must not distract the individual from moving out of the pose, but rather use the distraction as a means of creating stronger will power to overcome any disturbances.
The most common physiological identification in measuring effectiveness of meditation can be seen in the brain region (Bonus, Davidson, Harrington, Kabat-Zinn, Muller, Rosenkranz, Santorelli, Sheridan, Shumaker & Urbanowski, 2003). The left side of the brain is known to be associated with positive feelings and effects. Alteration in the brain’s functioning ultimately leads to a shift in consciousness (Alavia, Aman, Khalsa, Newberg, Waldman & Wintering, 2010). The mind will be able to view things “outside of the box” as a result of this brain modification. A shift in consciousness leads to greater compassion and understanding of the truth. Long-term practice must be constant and repetitive in order to undergo a mental transformation. MRI tests have proven that thicker cerebral cortex’s are developed in the brains of individuals who have undergone “long-term” practice of mindfulness-based meditation (Alavia, et al., 2010). Individuals who have “long-term” practice are usually those who have been practicing meditation for more than a few years (Alavia, et al., 2010). An analysis comparing long-term meditators to non-meditators showed significantly higher cerebral blood flow in the parietal cortex, putamen, thalamus, caudate, inferior temporal lobe, cerebellum, and brainstem regions (Alavia, et al., 2010).
Aside from brain functioning, the immune system...