Meditation can help most people feel less anxious and more
in control. The awareness that meditation brings can also be a source of personal insight
Dr. Borysenko notes that "meditation may lead to a
breakdown of screen memories so that early childhood abuse episodes and other traumas
suddenly flood the mind, making the patient temporarily more anxious until these traumas
are healed. Many so-called meditation exercises are actually forms of imagery and
visualization that are extraordinarily useful in healing old traumas, confronting death
anxieties, finishing 'old business', learning to forgive, and enhancing self-esteem."
"Meditation frees persons from
tenacious preoccupation with the past and future and allows them to fully experience
life's precious moments", says Daeja Napier, founder of the Insight Meditation Center
and lay dharma teacher of insight meditation in suburban Boston.
"Many men and women tend to live in a state of
perpetual motion and expectation that prevents them from appreciating the gifts that each
moment gives us," says Napier. "We live life in a state of insufficiency,
waiting for a mother to love us, for a father to be kind to us, for the perfect job or
home, for Prince Charming to come along or to become a perfect person. It's a mythology
that keeps us from being whole.
"Meditation is a humble process that gently returns us
to the now of our lives and allows us to wake up and re-evaluate the way that we live our
lives," says Napier. "We realize that the only thing missing is mindfulness, and
that's what we practice."
Feelings of helplessness, hopelessness and
isolation are hallmarks of depression-the nation's most prevalent mental health problem.
Meditation increases self-confidence and feelings of connection to others. Many studies
have shown that depressed people feel much better after eliciting the relaxation response.
Sometimes anxiety becomes paralyzing and people feel
(wrongly) that they are about to suffer some horrible fate. Panic attacks are often
treated with drugs, but studies by Jon Kabat-Zinn, Ph.D., associate professor of medicine
at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center in Worcester and director of the medical
center's Stress Reduction Clinic, show that if people who are prone to panic attacks begin
focused, meditative breathing the instant they feel the first signs of an episode, they
are less likely to have a full-blown panic attack.
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Benefits of Meditation: Spiritual