The paper presented here discusses briefly, the development in the context of mindfulness properties of the human ecology. Further, the mindfulness meditation therapy for health and mind enhancement is explained that significantly highlights its positivity in various dimensions to the human body and emotions. This research will critically analyze the past Meta researches, which have been directing their efforts to indicate the positive effects of meditation related to health, stress, attention deficit issues, concentration, learning, memory, etc. The purpose of the research is to prove the positive outcomes when mindfulness meditation is practiced by different human beings regardless of their physical or social characteristics. Eventually, this brief study will conclude to present the potential for future considerations and addition of this school of thought in the modern medical capacity.
As the socially active human beings, we spend a lot of time hanging around things that do not solve anything, but it makes us fall into anxiety or depression. Mindfulness therapy consists in nurturing our attention only in the present moment, which allows us to free ourselves from the disturbing influence of our thoughts. Learning to be calm, accepting situations without resistance and being present with lucidity in the various activities of daily life facilitates harmony, mental balance, and vital fullness. We believe that we are what we think. So our happiness depends, to a significant extent, on our thoughts before what we are living, subjective interpretations that, in many cases, generate much suffering, fears, and unwanted anxiety. The human mind lives in the past or the future, but very seldom in the present and this creates the unwanted stress that we are unable to cope with (Kabat-Zinn, 2014).
Need of meditation therapy acceptance in social context
Mindfulness consists of keeping attention focused on what happens in the present, with respect, acceptance, tenderness, and without judgment of others. Mindfulness meditation does not teach us to manage our emotions and control our thoughts that cause so much unhappiness to the human being. In recent years, mindfulness therapy has developed, whose roots lie in the oriental Buddhist techniques and that is to cultivate our attention only in the present moment, which allows us to free ourselves from the disturbing influence of our mental contents. Mindfulness consists of meditation that can be practiced in any posture and at any time. Learning to be calm and to be present with lucidity in the various activities of daily life facilitates harmony, mental balance, and vital fullness.
This technique, supported by scientific studies, is already used in the USA. Meditation is being complementary practiced by medical professionals with excellent results on stress and anxiety, as well as some mental illnesses and pathologies of immense chronic suffering positively affected. Its practice helps to develop and use certain capabilities of the human brain. It can also be very useful in managing stress, losing weight or quitting (Hosemans, 2014).
What the experts say about Mindful Meditation
Dr. Santiago Segovia, Ph.D. in Psychology from the UAM and Professor of Psychobiology and coordinator of the mindfulness courses at the Open Center (Tomillo Foundation), explains in a simple way what his practice consists. As seen, only what is seen, and hear, only the heard, and to like, only the liked, in the smell, only smelled, in a sense, only that is felt and in the known, only that is known, is the crux of mindfulness meditation. Attention balance is a relevant factor because it allows us to live our thoughts, motivations, and affections consciously and self-regulate them so that they help us to live in psychological well-being. It brings serenity, lucidity, and equanimity and constitutes a way, as well as a way of life, for the development of our happiness.
There is something that is thought to be critical to clarify as mentioned by the Professor of Psychobiology; mindfulness is not psychotherapy as it is understood in Western psychology. It is a method for personal growth that some of its techniques have (Mindfulness as a way of personal growth) and the derivative (psychotherapies that incorporate techniques of mindfulness in their treatment protocols). The primary domain of mindfulness is the realm of personal development, generating awareness, emotional and motivational balance as well as psychological well-being because you feel embedded in your life (Greenberg, & Meiran, 2013).
Mindfulness meditation has become a need to cope with the pressure of modern day stress levels and the benefits it provides to physical and mental conditions of the human being it must be added to advanced medical treatments.
· What is mindfulness meditation?
· What are the positive aspects of Mindfulness meditation to a human being?
· Can this therapy be added to the modern day medical care?
· What are the future implications of this treatment in the contemporary medical field?
The physical advantages of mindfulness meditation
The intervention with mindfulness is directed to deal primarily with anxiety, obsessive-compulsive behavior, and depressive disorders, as well as the distortion of the body image or the deficit in the awareness, acceptance, expression and control of the physiological, cognitive and behavioral aspects of an emotional experience. According to the experts, the areas in which mindfulness could act beneficially in the stage of aging are the acceptance of health problems that arise as a result of age, and the fact that aging involves the treatment of chronic pain diseases. Likewise, this technique facilitates empathy and kindness in social relations, acceptance of death, as well as enhancement of the immune system and slowing down the aging process (Eberth, & Sedlmeier, 2012).
The practice of mindfulness is an exercise to develop better and use certain human brain abilities that we all have. With this technique, the brain activity changes take place, mainly in the prefrontal cortex, which is that part of the brain that most differentiates us from the rest of the species, even from the apes.
To this time all the scientific studies show the practice of mindfulness is beneficial, both on the mind and on the body and behavior. Its method decreases anxiety, depression, and anger and worries in general, and increases joy, Inspiration, feelings of gratitude, satisfaction, and vitality. In the brain improves attention span, enhances the ability to modulate negative emotions and to experience positive emotions. It enables us to break patterns of behavior that are harmful to health, Such as substance abuse, be it tobacco, alcohol or other addictive drugs, and improves the quality of sleep (Carswell, & Frewen, 2017).
The mind gets stronger and adaptive
The psychopathological areas on which the practice of mindfulness would benefit beneficially would be anxiety disorders primarily preventive, mood, sense of life, dependence and autonomy, self-esteem, memory deficit in the short term, which is initially altered in Alzheimer's patients. There is also a theoretical basis for thinking that it could be preventive or adjuvant in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases (e.g., Parkinson), mainly at the beginning of the illness, although there is no scientific evidence about this as for now. Regarding the results of a mindfulness therapy, psychologists point out that each case is different and it is not possible to establish a period of each treatment.
However, a patient who is committed to therapy may begin to feel distinctly beneficial effects in the first ten sessions. With mindfulness, we calm the mind that is usually dispersed and in anxiety over tensions, fears and haste. Usually, an average depressed person lives in the past and the future, but never in the present. Acceptance means only recognizing that things are as they are in the present moment. In life, there is a part of the pain that is inevitable. We all have to experience sickness, separation, deceit and, without a doubt, death. Still, if we offer resistance to the part of the pain that has touched us to live, what we do is to increase the suffering (Burrows, 2015).
For the experts, we have a monkey mind. We spent a lot of time spinning things around. It is what is called cavitation or rumination, which does not solve anything, but quickly causes us to fall into anxiety or depression. Today, we know that one of the factors that maintain the depressive pathologies is the rumination and that, if we manage to diminish this mental activity, it is easier for the person to leave his depression.
An efficient method in clinical practice
The mindfulness meditation technique is being incorporated, as the main component or adjuvant which includes too many of the psychological treatment models. Research into results has shown that the practice of mindfulness is not only effective, but also efficient in relieving stress-related problems, as well as in other clinical conditions, and also contributes to improving health, well-being and Cognitive functioning. The mindfulness technique can be integrated into the treatment of the most common psychological disorders in clinical practice, such as anxiety, depression, OCD, obsessive-compulsive disorders, eating disorders, pain and trauma, As well as borderline personality disorder (Auty, Cope, & Liebling, 2015).
For each of these disorders, we need an adaptation of treatment programs, research, practical advice, and precautions to know when using mindfulness meditation therapy in the therapeutic management of a particular disease. Firstly, we need to explain how mindfulness is used in the clinic. What people mistakenly think of the input is that it is something like a treatment; hence it may be considered to be a recipe rather than a therapist's attitude and, more specifically, a set of techniques that are incorporated into existing treatments, to a greater or lesser extent.
In U.S.A., it has been used for some years in clinical practice. For example, the program designed by Dr. Kabat-Zinn (who is a pioneer in this regard) is called MBSR (Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction) and consists of a series of sessions spread over eight weeks, including Yoga and Meditation with homework and weekly meetings. This application has been proven effective in combating the stress of any kind and has in fact been applied and used in very different patients: chronic pain, cancer, pure stress and any disease in which Western medicine is not very successful. This kind of treatment is the most non-specific.
From this experience, more individual programs have been developed for the treatment of specific pathologies: MBCT (cognitive therapy) to avoid relapses in depression; Dialectical behavioral therapy for borderline personality disorder; Relapse prevention for the treatment of drug addiction; Eating disorders, prevention of weight gain; Treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder, etc. This list is expanding steadily, as more and more programs are created for the treatment of specific diseases and techniques that are based on mindfulness are incorporated to a greater or lesser extent (Kabat-Zinn, 2015).
Aid for socio-health professionals
In Spain, the knowledge and application of this therapy are in its infancy, but it is a tool that can be a very useful complement for medical psychologists, health professionals, physiotherapy, and social workers. There is a growing awareness among health professionals in other regions of the world about the benefits of mindfulness and its application during the therapeutic intervention. Although the results are very encouraging, it is necessary to have meta-analyses that show us security ineffectiveness of mindfulness therapy compared to other procedures (Kabat-Zinn, 2015).
The potential of mindfulness meditation
The practice of mindfulness is an exercise to develop better and use particular capacities of the human brain that we all have and which are, also, those that make us more specifically human. With mindfulness, changes occur mainly in the prefrontal cortex, which is that part of the brain that most differentiates us from the rest of the species. The human brain has practically tripled its volume from the earliest hominids to us, and that enormous increase has been made, above all, at the cost of an increase in the prefrontal cortex. That part, precisely, is the one that we train the most when we practice this therapy. With mindfulness, we are taking out the human brain potential that we have, to a large extent, untapped.
The thinking mind or monkey mind has its evolutionary sense, since the only thing that it tries, in the background, is the survival. The rational mind is the form of mental functioning with which we explore the various possibilities that exist in the future and compare them with the data of experience to try to solve problems and avoid or overcome difficulties that may arise. In this sense, the thinking mind is very necessary, very human and plays a critical role. It is a part of the neural system that responds to the threats of the environment. The problem is that in the usual state of consciousness in this historical moment of humanity, there is clearly an imbalance towards that type of mental functioning, neglecting other ways of using the mind that can bring us tranquility, security, and satisfaction (Virgili, 2013).
That other system is the system of tranquility, which contrasts with the threat system. The idea is to achieve a balance between different neural systems and, in particular, to move more towards the side of happiness and satisfaction. What happens in practice is that we spend a lot of time hanging around things. It is what is called cavitation or rumination, which does not solve anything, but quickly causes us to fall into anxiety or depression. Today we know that one of the factors that maintain depressive pathologies are rumination and that if we manage to decrease this mental activity, it is easier for the person to leave his depression (Hosemans, 2014).
The key: acceptance, the flow of life
Acceptance does not mean resignation. To accept means just to recognize that things are as they are in the present moment. What happens is that in our normal operation, when something happens that does not meet our expectations, we usually resist, deny or remove it from us in any way. And this kind of reaction does not solve the problem, but it makes it worse and produces more suffering. In life, there is a part of the pain that is inevitable. We all have to experience sickness, separation, deceit, and, without a doubt, death. However, if we offer resistance to the part of the pain that we have to live, what we do is increase the suffering. Pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional. It only appears when we resist pain. Also, resistance prevents us from seeing clearly and being creative in finding a suitable solution to the problem that we have at any moment.
Do not make judgments
Of course, making decisions about things is necessary to survive. The problem is how we use those experiences and how we understand what they convey to us. We cannot prevent our head from making decisions almost automatically. We were educated like that and, in due course, these experiences have helped us make decisions (sometimes right, sometimes wrong). When judgments begin to do us harm, it is when we blindly follow their instructions. We must understand that reality, although presented as dual (good and bad, high and low, ugly and beautiful), is only one, a unit, and everything in it is interdependent. When we judge reality, we are victims of a mirage by which we have fragmented it and divided it artificially (conceptually). As our state of consciousness matures, we see reality as it is. In that sense, learning not to involve ourselves in the judgments we make is the path that leads us to a deeper and more equitable understanding of reality and not to enter it in useless struggles (Phang, & Oei, 2012).
Transform Negative Emotions
Painful emotions (also called negatives, since all emotions seek the good of the subject who experiences them) often turn against us in today's living conditions. Mindfulness teaches us to transform them and turn them into positive energy. On the one hand, by increasing the awareness of emotion, it is modulated and becomes more controllable and less painful, which allows us to integrate the information that emotion contains in our decision-making process, contributing to our actions, in Definitive, with greater wisdom. The other way is that of self-pity since self-pity is like the balm that heals the emotional wounds that have already occurred (Shiyko, Hallinan, & Naito, 2017).
Use learning from the past without resentment or guilt
Remembering the past is not in itself harmful. The problem is certain uses we make of memories. Memory is a wonderful capacity of the brain of the higher organisms and especially of the human brain. Memory serves us, above all, to learn from past experiences and not fall into the same mistakes in the future. It helps us to survive. Still, it turns against us when the traces left by certain more or less painful experiences interfere in our real life (of the present). Another unskilled use of memory is when it serves us to hold resentment and harbor hatred towards other people. Hate is one of the most effective ways we have to do ourselves harm and is based on keeping anger and rancor in memory, without curing them by forgiving those who hurt us.
Another example of damaging memory is guilt. Here, too, it is a question of forgiving, but in this case, one has to forgive oneself. Not giving too much importance to an “uncertain” future. In general, we must recognize the fact that the past no longer exists and that, therefore, we do not have to worry much about it. What we have to do is learn from what happened to plan correctly the actions that we have to carry out. We tend to attach too much importance to the future. The main reason is that we trust that brings us happiness, which, of course, is impossible, since we can never live in the future. We always live in the present and only in it can we be happy. But the result of this mirage, this illusion or deception, is that we stop enjoying the present by fantasizing about a future that we do not know and that is entirely uncertain (Lauricella, 2013).
Become familiar with compassion
Self-pity does not mean pity, but love to a person who suffers and desires to be free from suffering. That is why, in our society, self-pity is very necessary, that is to say, to practice goodness and love with oneself, to treat oneself well and with affection. And all scientific studies on the practice of self-pity demonstrate that it is extremely useful for reducing anxiety and depression, for improving coping of emotions, for repairing negative emotional states, for improving interpersonal relationships, and for increasing life satisfaction (Kabat-Zinn, 2015).
The practicality of mindfulness meditation therapy
We have seen in the first part of this brief study the techniques of meditation and mindfulness, how to practice them and several guided meditations. It remains to be seen to what extent meditation improves our health, both physical and mental, and why we strive so much that we all practice meditation every day as if it were your breakfast, your teeth cleaning or a shower if a mental cleansing to begin with the day.
Meditation, mindfulness and mind-body connection: Psychoneuroimmunology
The basis of this effect of meditation techniques on our body is the deactivation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis of our body, responsible for releasing stress hormones, and that damages health if its activation is chronic and maintained or sharp and exaggerated. As explained in the entry on Psychoneuroimmunology, entirely dedicated to the mechanisms of connection of mind-body meditation can become the missing link. This shows us how the nervous system controls all the functions of the organism, and how our emotions and our thinking. Through the sympathetic and parasympathetic autonomic nervous systems and hormonal secretions, regulate the functioning of organs, modulate the activity of the immune system and modify the neuroendocrine secretion (Phang, & Oei, 2012).
The techniques of meditation and relaxation can be very varied, hence contradictory results are often found among studies and other practices. The studies that show the best results are those of Transcendental Meditation and modern techniques such as Mindfulness, showing a tendency towards the improvement of different psychological, psychosomatic and some diseases. Many are not large enough or well thought out to draw definitive conclusions but highlight the good preliminary results and the need to investigate further (Lomas, Cartwright, Edginton, & Ridge, 2014).
For example, a review of Transcendental Meditation programs shows that this meditation technique works by reducing cardiovascular risk factors and may delay or reverse the progression of the pathophysiological changes underlying heart disease. To showing reductions in blood pressure, the thickness of the carotid intima-media layer, myocardial ischemia, left ventricular hypertrophy and mortality, with magnitudes comparable to those of other conventional interventions in secondary prevention. Recognized cardiologists recommend meditation or yoga as a technique to reduce cardiovascular risk. Magnetic resonance imaging performed on subjects who underwent a meditation program of only eight weeks demonstrated increases in gray matter in the left hippocampus, posterior cingulate cortex, temporoparietal junction, and cerebellum. These areas are involved in learning processes, memory, and emotional regulation, self-referential processing, and perspective taking (Zoogman, Goldberg, Hoyt, & Miller, 2014).
Some studies show how compassionate meditation (which cultivates positive emotions) also increases management and emotional self-awareness and promotes empathy. Yes, that to think positive generates health, we would have to learn to discard invalid negative thoughts actively and to change them for others more positive consciously, although we do not feel them, it does not matter; little by little they are done with our mind. In studies on symptoms and illnesses, there is evidence of improvement in symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome, improvements in sleep quality, quality of life of people with chronic pain (depression, anxiety, Feelings of control and acceptance of suffering). Further, development of anxiety, depression and suicidal ideation, significant remissions in the central depressions that do not respond to treatment, and improvements in disorders of somatization (Shiyko, Hallinan, & Naito, 2017).
In people with treatment or cancer survivors, mindfulness has been shown to be a complementary therapy that improves physical and mental health. It is only a glance that I have taken, but surely there is more evidence. Is it possible for meditation to make us age more slowly. Preliminary studies point out that meditation and mindfulness can slow cell aging because of its effects on the telomeres of chromosomes. The reduction in the threatening feelings and the rumination thoughts reduce the activation of the adrenal-pituitary hypothalamus axis and generate a positive arousal-activation. If it is possible that meditating will rejuvenate us or make us grow older slowly. In women with breast cancer, a mindfulness program was shown to protect the telomere reduction from the control group undergoing group therapy for emotional expression that did not achieve the effect. It has also been shown to reduce proinflammatory markers in this type of patients (Schutte, & Malouff, 2014).
To conclude one may say that there is no doubt that meditation programs (transcendental, Buddhist) or mindfulness, which are followed continuously by any of us, improve a broad range of psychological, psychosomatic and functional disorders (dyspepsia, heavy digestion, irritable bowel). The diseases in which stress plays a causal or triggering role such as gastroduodenal ulcers, migraines, arterial hypertension, acute myocardial infarctions, stroke or fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome, and become part of the treatments we prescribe to our patients in the future, hopefully not too far away, either as single therapy or as a supplement to improve the results of conventional treatments.
It should also be part of educational programs from the earliest years of school as part of emotional intelligence education. Burn-out is one of the risks that most affect the professionals who work in front of the public or in any work in which there are strong emotional implications due to the characteristics of the same. Well, not only do patients have to practice meditation, carried out in primary care, a psycho-educational program based on mindfulness for health professionals, showed a decrease in burnout and emotional disturbance, with an improvement in empathy and in full consciousness, fostering attitudes toward self-care.
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