Meditation is something that is practiced around the world, in hundreds of different cultures. People are aiming to grab onto the benefits that mediation bring with it; whether a person is suffering from mental illness, symptoms of anxiety or just want to better their life as a whole, meditation seems to be the answer. This brief paper looks into a few different cultures and their forms of mediation, as well as the benefits of mediation on anxiety and how prayer and mindfulness help those with mental health problems.
To begin, meditation was introduced in the 20th century by both Swami Vivekananda and Paramehansa Yogananda. Meditation is used for both physical needs and emotional needs, as well. Meditation has been shown to be one of the most effective ways in treating anxiety and sudden anxiety attacks; although, some forms of anxiety have been proven to be out of one’s self control, mediation has shown to be quite effective for majority of people suffering from anxiety. The main aspects in mediation include, breathing in and out at a slower pace, living in the moment and choosing not to worry about what the future holds. Meditation varies from culture to culture, but all in all each culture believes it to be an important aspect of spiritual development.
The form of meditation that those of the Judaism culture practice is called, Kabala. Kabala simply means a meditative field of study; the main components of this form of meditation include, chanting, stillness, silence, guided visualizations, dancing, movement and focusing upon a Shiviti. Jewish believe that not only is mediation good for the human and soul as a whole, but also believe it to be a partner type of process which results in them living a healthy Jewish life.
There are two different types of meditation that the Islam culture follows, they include Tafakkur and Sufism. Tafakkur is more mainstream and popular of the two, coming from the Koran; it refers to contemplative meditation and reflection of the universe. Sufism is not practiced as much as Tafakkur, but still nonetheless plays an important role in a lot of people’s lives; Sufism refers to the spiritual discipline within Islam. The Islam culture believes that mediation has many powerful effects, including not only spiritual benefits, but worldly benefits as well, creative solutions to problems and healing.
The culture and people of Buddhism follow Zen, Tibetan and Theravadan; the differences between the three are that Zen is the Japanese form, Tibetan was important in different waves and Theravada is the name for forms of Buddhism that are in the Southern part of Asia all the way to Vietnam. Buddhist follow forms of meditation that they believe Buddha has left them, including the two most common forms referred to as, anapana sati and metta bhavana. Buddhist believe that with meditation comes great success, they believe that meditation can lead to a greater perspective, less stress and both physical and mental benefits.
Meditation and Anxiety
As previously talked about, meditation is known to have many health benefits; whether you are taking part in the meditation of Judaism, Islam or any other culture – the benefits all come together as a whole to create greatness. One of the main things that mediation has been shown to help dramatically with is anxiety in the simplest form and anxiety as it worsens and becomes sudden attacks. Anxiety can result from many different life factors, it can be related to stress, a fear one may have and many other reasons; it causes a person’s mind to begin racing with out of control thoughts and emotions. Meditation is extremely effective in reducing anxiety and anxiety onset symptoms on a neural level; researchers at Wake Forest Baptist conducted a test with 15 people who have symptoms of everyday anxiety, when the subjects finished a 20 minute meditation class, their anxiety was significantly reduced.
Some of the ways that one can help themselves before beginning mediation include, finding the nature of what is causing your anxiety and finding why you cling so tightly onto the things that are causing you anxiety. Anxiety has been proven to ruin people’s lives, simply because it can overtake your entire day, your entire week and ultimately your entire life if you let it. Living with anxiety is not something that is easy, or something that you can just rid yourself of by the snap of a finger; however, when you allow yourself to take the steps into a healthier life, meditation can be a savior. For me personally, I suffer from anxiety; not daily, but it comes and goes in increments and I personally have never turned to mediation – but I will begin to do so now, as I believe it truly will help me.
Prayer / Mindfulness & Mental Illness
Mental illnesses include things such as anxiety disorders, mood disorders, eating disorders and so forth. Prayer is an action that not everyone takes part in, but a lot do; no matter the religion or whom they believe to be the higher power, they choose to pray for things that they know they cannot control and the things they are hoping will become better. When looking into mental illnesses and prayer, researchers have found that those who pray regularly and know they are going to get comfort are less likely to suffer from any form of mental illness; as compared to those who pray, but don’t ultimately believe they will receive anything.
Therapists have begun using mindfulness for mental health issues, as they believe it has many positive outcomes for things ranging from eating disorders, anxiety and so forth. Mindfulness is being able to change your outlook and/or your attitude towards certain things in life and giving yourself the power and the control over the outcomes of situations in your own life. There are a few different types of mindfulness including, meditative mindfulness, sensory, emotional and urge – they also focus on being present in the moment. One of the most important aspects to remember when dealing with mindfulness and clients, is to make sure that it is never being taken too far; unfortunately, it can become negative if this happens, due to people becoming stuck on the concept of mindfulness.
In conclusion, meditation is clearly helpful for a wide variety of things; as well as mindfulness and prayer. When looking at how different a lot of cultures are, but at the same time how similar they are when it comes to meditation – it truly is inspiring; knowing that no matter their age, their race, their culture, their gender and any other differences, they all want the same thing as anyone else, to be happy and to rid themselves of any negatives that enter into their lives. It’s almost as if, even though in essence they aren’t connected, when it comes to meditation and the world around meditation, we simply are all connected by one greater good and that is beautiful.