IKIA: Verified Summary
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Meditation is a practice in which an individual trains the mind or induces a mode of consciousness, either to realize some benefit or as an end in itself.
The term meditation refers to a broad variety of practices (much like the term sports) that includes techniques designed to promote relaxation, build internal energy or life force (qi, ki,prana, etc.) and develop compassion, love, patience, generosity and forgiveness. A particularly ambitious form of meditation aims at effortlessly sustained single-pointed concentration meant to enable its practitioner to enjoy a sense of well-being while engaging in any life activity. In brief, there are dozens of specific styles of meditation practice, and many different types of activity commonly referred to as meditative practices.
For a fill list of the various perspectives on Mediation please vist the Perspectives cubby.
The word meditation carries different meanings in different contexts. Meditation has been practiced since antiquity as a component of numerous religious traditions and beliefs. It may be done sitting, or in an active way—for instance, Buddhist monks involve awareness in their day-to-day activities as a form of mind-training. Prayer beads or other ritual objects are commonly used during meditation in order to keep track of or remind the practitioner about some aspect of the training.
The term “meditation” can refer to the state itself, as well as to practices or techniques employed to cultivate the state. Meditation may also involve repeating a mantra and closing the eyes. The mantra is chosen based on its suitability to the individual meditator. Meditation has a calming effect and directs awareness inward until pure awareness is achieved, described as “being awake inside without being aware of anything except awareness itself.”
Meditation often involves an internal effort to self-regulate the mind in some way. Meditation is often used to clear the mind and ease many health issues, such as high blood pressure, depression, and anxiety. Meditation may involve generating an emotional state for the purpose of analyzing that state—such as anger, hatred, etc.—or cultivating a particular mental response to various phenomena, such as compassion.
Since 2000 there have been more than 500 peer-reviewed studies into the medical connection between meditation and health. Elissa Epel, Elizabeth Blackburn and some of the world’s leading experts on aging are currently researching the effects of meditation on telomerase, the enzyme that controls aging.
- Meditation has a measurable impact on cortisol stress hormones.
- Intensive meditation can affect telomerase length, the enzyme controlling aging.
- Meditation is utilized by mental health therapists to treat a variety of issues, including depression, PTSD and trauma.
Remaining Questions Summary
- A causal mechanism between cortisol levels and meditation needs to be clarified.
- It remains to be established whether the effect of meditation on telomerase is due to a secondary decrease in stress hormones or a direct causal relationship.
- Further DNA testing is required to corroborate meditators claims of extended longevity, and it is unknown whether these effects are common to all forms of meditation and practice modes.