Sunday, June 15, 2008

Meditation: Psychotherapy's Ancient New Tool

Psychotherapy is about one hundred years old. The practice of meditation goes back at least three thousand years. And now psychotherapists are saying meditation may be the best thing to happen to psychotherapy, ever.

Specifically, therapists are referring to “mindfulness meditation,” defined by Siddhartha Gautama around 500 B.C. as the key practice of Buddhism.

Since its inception with Sigmund Freud, psychotherapists have relied on patients’ words and then reframing patients’ thoughts to gain insight into the subconscious to alleviate despair, anxiety and many forms of mental illness. Psychotherapists today are discovering what Buddhists worldwide have known for millennia: Meditation bypasses the limitations of language and goes straight to the mind with remedial power.

That power resides mostly in letting things be. Not trying to change everything. Just see it for what it is.

Mindfulness avoids some of the complexities of Transcendental Meditation, which also has bushels of scientific studies to support its value. With mindfulness, you sit comfortably and, for ten minutes or more, you take note of bodily sensations and your breathing. As thoughts enter your mind, you let them pass without judgment. Always bring your attention back to the rhythm of your breathing as a focus.

Eventually you learn to gain control of your attention and reduce the usual brain chatter. Some therapists now say that getting a grip on your attention helps you face troubling thoughts, endure the pain or anger or sadness associated with them, and then let them pass.

The difference from conventional psychotherapy is in not trying to alter the thoughts or feelings – an action that can backfire with damaging results.

According to a recent New York Times article, the National Institute of Health is financing 50 studies testing mindfulness meditation for relieving stress, easing addictions, improving attention and easing despair.

“It’s a shift from having our mental health defined by the content of our thoughts,” said Steven Hayes, a psychologist at the University of Nevada, “to having it defined by our relationship to that content – and changing that relationship by sitting with, noticing and becoming disentangled from our definition of ourselves.”

I encourage your to read the entire Times article.

I encourage you to at least make an attempt to incorporate some form of meditation into your life. It’s not a major investment, though it is a commitment.

In fact, for the post below, I’m going to reprint one of my earliest Quantum Spirit posts, with its link to Peter Russell’s effective three-minute meditation.


Bobbie said...

Very Nice Site! I'll be back :)

SEEMA said...

Mindfulness reminds me of a meditation technique called Yog Nidra. Have you heard of it?In Yog Nidra, you listen to instructions. You are asked to lie down in the corpose pose and feel each part of your body, finally you can almost visualise your body lying on the floor. Then you start concentrating on your breathing, first from the navel and then from the chest. You count backwards from each breath. In the last stage, you are asked to visualise certain scenes. At the beginning and end you make a resolve, and it is ordained that the resolve which you repeat thrice each time, is fulfilled. The more the reality of the visualisation scenes and then coming back to the present, the more is your relaxation. You get rid of your past negativities and take on positivities. A must for every day relaxation. find out more on, and

a.k.satsangi said...

Yoga (Application) which was based on the control of the body physically and implied that a perfect control over the body and the senses led to knowledge of the ultimate reality. A detailed anatomical knowledge of the human body was necessary to the advancement of yoga and therefore those practising yoga had to keep in touch with medical knowledge. (Romila Thapar, A History of India, volume one).

I suggest : Mind and brain are two distinct things. Brain is anatomical entity whereas mind is functional entity. Mind can be defined as the function of autonomic nervous system (ANS). It is claimed that mind can be brought under conscious control through the practice of meditation. But how? ANS is largely under hypothalamic control which is situated very close to optic chiasma (sixth chakra or ajna chakra). Protracted practice of concentration to meditate at this region brings functions of ANS say mind under one’s conscious control.

ANS is further divided into parasympathetic nervous system (PSNS) and sympathetic nervous system (SNS). On the basis of these facts I have discovered a mathematical relationship for spiritual quotient (S.Q.). Spiritual Quotient can be expressed mathematically as the ratio of Parasympathetic dominance to Sympathetic dominance. PSNS dominates during meditative calm and SNS dominates during stress. In this formula we assign numerical values to the physiological parameters activated or suppressed during autonomic mobilization and put in the formula to describe the state of mind of an individual and also infer his/her level of consciousness.

Protracted practice of meditation under qualified guidance will help to manage all sort of psychological problems.

Emotional Quotient can also be expressed mathematically as the product of I.Q. and Wisdom Factor.

Anirudh Kumar Satsangi

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Gregory LeFever said...

Yes, I realize some of these comments are actually advertising for meditation-related products. I've decided to let them stand in case they prove of value to some reader somewhere.