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HOW TO OPTIMIZE YOUR BRAIN AND BODY THROUGH MEDITATION

What is meditation?

Meditation is becoming increasingly popular in the Western world, a practice that has been a mainstay in Eastern cultures for generations.Meditation can be traced back to the Vedic texts of ancient India, where they believe the physical body is controlled by a connection to the inner self [1]. 

Some types of meditation include mindfulness, movement, mantra, and transcendental meditation among others. Regardless of which type of meditation works best for you, you can reap the health benefits of this practice. 


What are the health benefits of meditation? 

Multiple studies have shown that meditation can affect both your psychological and physiological well being: 

Psychological health benefits: 

  • Stress reduction [1,2]. 
  • Decreased anxiety and depression [1,3,4]. 
  • Improved memory [1]. 
  • Increased efficiency [1,5]. 

Physiological health benefits:

  • Reduced blood pressure [1,6]. 
  • Lower heart rate [1]. 
  • Reduced cortisol and epinephrine [1,7,8]. 
  • Increased melatonin [1,9].  

The meditation - skin connection

Recently, there has been a link between meditation and skin disorders. It has been recorded that patients that struggle with skin disorders also suffer from higher rates of anxiety, depression, and negative emotions [10]. Studies have proven that along with treatment, meditation practices resulted in a more accelerated healing process for psoriasis sufferers [11,12].This is interesting because now we can influence skin health in a way that was previously inaccessible, opening up new therapeutic intervention pathways. 


How can I start meditating?

It may seem difficult to start meditating on your own. Thankfully, there are resources to aid you in meditation practices, especially for beginners. We recommend InScape or Headspace, apps for guided meditation that allow you to enjoy meditation sessions in the comfort of your own home. Mantra based meditation is also a good practice for meditation novices. For the more advanced, zen meditation may be useful as a way to completely calm the mind. 


References:
  1. Sharma H. (2015). Meditation: Process and effects.Ayu,36(3), 233–237.https://doi.org/10.4103/0974-8520.182756
  2. Elder, C., Nidich, S., Moriarty, F., & Nidich, R. (2014). Effect of transcendental meditation on employee stress, depression, and burnout: a randomized controlled study.The Permanente journal,18(1), 19–23.https://doi.org/10.7812/TPP/13-102
  3. Orme-Johnson, D. W., & Barnes, V. A. (2014). Effects of the transcendental meditation technique on trait anxiety: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials.Journal of alternative and complementary medicine (New York, N.Y.),20(5), 330–341.https://doi.org/10.1089/acm.2013.0204
  4. Kasala, E. R., Bodduluru, L. N., Maneti, Y., & Thipparaboina, R. (2014). Effect of meditation on neurophysiological changes in stress mediated depression.Complementary therapies in clinical practice,20(1), 74–80.https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ctcp.2013.10.001
  5. Deepeshwar, S., Vinchurkar, S. A., Visweswaraiah, N. K., & Nagendra, H. R. (2015). Hemodynamic responses on prefrontal cortex related to meditation and attentional task.Frontiers in systems neuroscience,8, 252.https://doi.org/10.3389/fnsys.2014.00252
  6. Brook RD, Appel LJ, Rubenfire M, Ogedegbe G, Bisognano JD, Elliott WJ, Fuchs FD, Hughes JW, Lackland DT, Staffileno BA, Townsend RR, Rajagopalan S; American Heart Association Professional Education Committee of the Council for High Blood Pressure Research, Council on Cardiovascular and Stroke Nursing, Council on Epidemiology and Prevention, and Council on Nutrition, Physical Activity. Beyond medications and diet: alternative approaches to lowering blood pressure: a scientific statement from the american heart association. Hypertension. 2013 Jun;61(6):1360-83. doi: 10.1161/HYP.0b013e318293645f. Epub 2013 Apr 22. PMID: 23608661.
  7. Jevning R, Wilson AF, Davidson JM. Adrenocortical activity during meditation. Horm Behav. 1978 Feb;10(1):54-60. doi: 10.1016/0018-506x(78)90024-7. PMID: 350747.
  8. Infante JR, Torres-Avisbal M, Pinel P, Vallejo JA, Peran F, Gonzalez F, Contreras P, Pacheco C, Roldan A, Latre JM. Catecholamine levels in practitioners of the transcendental meditation technique. Physiol Behav. 2001 Jan;72(1-2):141-6. doi: 10.1016/s0031-9384(00)00386-3. PMID: 11239991.
  9. Tooley GA, Armstrong SM, Norman TR, Sali A. Acute increases in night-time plasma melatonin levels following a period of meditation. Biol Psychol. 2000 May;53(1):69-78. doi: 10.1016/s0301-0511(00)00035-1. PMID: 10876066.
  10. Shenefelt PD. Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Hypnotherapy and Skin Disorders. Am J Clin Hypn. 2018 Jul;61(1):34-44. doi: 10.1080/00029157.2017.1419457. PMID: 29771216.
  11. Shenefelt PD. Use of hypnosis, meditation, and biofeedback in dermatology. Clin Dermatol. 2017 May-Jun;35(3):285-291. doi: 10.1016/j.clindermatol.2017.01.007. Epub 2017 Jan 22. PMID: 28511826.
  12. Kabat-Zinn J, Wheeler E, Light T, Skillings A, Scharf MJ, Cropley TG, Hosmer D, Bernhard JD. Influence of a mindfulness meditation-based stress reduction intervention on rates of skin clearing in patients with moderate to severe psoriasis undergoing phototherapy (UVB) and photochemotherapy (PUVA). Psychosom Med. 1998 Sep-Oct;60(5):625-32. doi: 10.1097/00006842-199809000-00020. PMID: 9773769.

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