Physical changed due to meditation for clinical practice

Introduction 
  Meditation has been used throughout centuries of human existence as a fantastic form of preventative medicine, but research and application of current scientific methods can transform it into a useful and cost effective method of dealing with many of today’s common issues.  The overall cost and detrimental side affects of many treatments of modern illness are reeking havoc on today’s health care system.  When going into an office for treatment meditation is rarely an option.  There are some doctors in today’s system that will suggest meditation, but the forms of meditation that they suggest are limited and scattered  By applying scientific method to the ideas of meditation and forming a formal and science based intervention plan will increase the effectiveness and unify the research on the practice of meditation.  The term that can be used for this is conscious impression.
History
  The history of meditation dates back thousands of years to many early cultures.  By defining meditation as a process to achieve a state of mind, it is hard to determine the origin of such practices.  From an anthropological point of view there has never been a society that has not had the concept of a higher power and with this people trying to reach a state of mind for healing.  Usually, these people take the form of “medicine men” or as we have come to know them as “shamans”.  However, mainstream meditations are usually pulled from concepts of major religions such as Buddhism or Hinduism.  While the term mediation itself was created during the translation of the old testament.  In the 12th century it would be used by a monk named Guigo II referring to what we currently consider meditation.  It wasn't until the 1960's and 1970's that these concepts started to have a major effect on western culture.  The practices that were mainstreamed were revered for their age and very little study has gone into improving the clinical application of the process.  There have been many new practices that have come out of this.  From introspective practices like transcendental meditation (developed in the 1960s), to healing practices like Reiki (developed in 1920s) and physical practices like Vinyasa Yoga (developed in the 1980s).  There are many doctors who have been credited on bringing meditation into the medical world, such as Jon Kabat-Zin PHD,  but most draw their experiences and knowledge from practices such as these, which were not designed to be used in the modern medical system.  
Current Use
  Meditation has been shown to work for all ages for a variety of problems.  These problems include but are not limited to migraines, cancer, chronic pain, stress or anxiety disorders, sleep and pre/post operation management.  Studies have shown that starting at an early age can increase the effectiveness of the practices and that if the individual becomes accustomed to these types of practices the knowledge can be transferred to other practices to help deal with medical problems they may encounter latter in life.  There are many practices that are used to deal with such problems but they are scattered and random in their origin.  For sleep a common practice is something called progressive relaxation.  Where by stressing and releasing muscle groups from the toes to the head are known to relax the body and the mind.  For cancer patients self hypnosis is commonly employed, where they will visualize themselves in a healing and calming world of their minds design.  Yoga is commonly suggested for physical ailments such as back pain.  The problem with their use being consistency, insomniacs are generally just told about the idea of progressive relaxation, self hypnosis for the most part is handed out on a one page information sheet and yoga although proven extraordinary effective has not made its way into rehabilitation centers.  
Theory for Improvement
  A theory that can be used to incorporate all practices and has a level of clinical measurably is one called conscious impression.  Using the Dali Llamas definition of meditation, where meditation is strictly defined as a process to achieve a desired state of mind and the desired state of mind if applied over a specified period of time will have measurable physiological effects.  This theory basses its foundation on Tebetian Buddhism, due to its rigidity on the practice of meditation  A practice will only be considered valid if the process achieves a specific state of mind no matter how many times and under all situations  The practice must also be able to be used by another individual to achieve the same state of mind.  In this theory the consciousness is defined as the collective experience of an individual at any particular point.   If any point in a person life is separated and examined it is considered an impression.  If there is a significant duration of impressions it can be seen as a persons general mood, this is called an conscious imprint.  An individuals conscious imprints over a period of time feed into their base.  The core though it can be adjusted over long periods of time is relativity solid.  The factors that influence your impressions are your senses, emotion, surroundings, physical state and your focus which can also be considered your internal dialog.  Each one of these factors feeds into your current impression depending on the strength of the stimuli.  For example, a person who lost a loved one's mood would be overwhelmingly influenced by emotional factors while someone who has broken their leg would be influenced by physical factors.  The greatest variable in all situations would be a persons focus.  Considering the person who broke their leg; someone with great focus would be able to limit the stress of the incident, while if someone was to focus on the pain and danger they would suffer more and it would have a greater effect on their overall mood.  A persons base is mostly comprised of genetic and behavioral tendencies developed at a younger age.  Long periods of controlled imprints or mood would have a gradual effect on your base.  While impressions feed into imprints and imprints into your base, your base and imprints will similarity feed back into your impressions.  To look at it from a scientific point of view the sensory motor aspects of your brain are colored by hormonal activity and social stimuli.  The per-frontal cortex’s of the brain, where a lot of conscious thought originate have a slight control over this perception.  Together they are perceived as what we would call consciousness.
   Things are impressed upon our mind normal  We experience a majority of negative impressions that is in accordance with the American lifestyle.  The easiest comparison however is a generally a positive one, this comparison is sleep.  It is a natural process to achieve an desired altered state of mind.  Looking deeper into sleep the process is based in repetition  You move through different states of mind where your body is relaxed but active and your brain patters slow.  Once you reach a particular point your brain will buffer the mind for a transition to REM by introducing dreams.  Your body and mind after the final stage of the non-REM will do a major flop, where your body is completely shut off and your mind becomes very active.  It is unknown what the trigger is and what properties REM exactly has on the body.  What is obvious is that this state of mind allows for rejuvenation of the body and reorganization of the mind.  During REM you dream.  Dreams being a projection of your brain to create an altered world allowing your consciousness to be comfortable while your sub-conscious preformed what it needs to do.  This procedure of moving through non-REM and REM happens from four to eight times a night. 
Beginning Meditation
  The similarities between sleep and meditation are phenomenal.  Though there are thousands of meditation practices I will refer to studies that were done on Tibetan monks and some information gathered through personal experimentation.  During beginner meditation (where the individual has been practicing less than three years) you tend to see physiological effects similar to that of stage one through three of non-REM.  There is a slight increase in blood O2 while the heart rate is slightly slowed and brain waves move from a alpha to a theta wave.  Theta waves can even be seen during deep relaxation without any training, showing that the body has a natural tendency to create meditation effects during awake times of rejuvenation.  

Advanced Meditation
  Advanced practices however have an extraordinary effect on physiology.  These should only be practiced by individuals that have had over ten years of experience.  This extraordinary lengthy and devoted level of expertise has not been studied as well as beginner meditation, due to the obvious difficulty involving time to learn practices.  Studies do suggest what is considered to be a near death state.  In fact these practices have been come to be known as “death yoga”.  The name does not have any relationship to mortality, rather it is a confusion of translation from sand-script.  In its supplest form, the process has three stages, death, intermission and rebirth.  Death refers to a separation from your body or current mindset.  Intermission is when the practice is being preformed.  It is the functional part of the meditation.  Rebirth refers to the leaving of intermission and the return to a worldly mindset.  As I refereed to before this process is extraordinary similar to sleep.  During the death phase which last from ten minutes to many hours, the practitioner focus on slowing the mind and body by creating an awareness of self, armor and room.  Self being a physical sense, armor being a outward projection of your self and room being your surroundings  Once the mind is sufficiently prepared it will ascend to a higher state.  This state of mind shows many similarities to REM.  Your consciousness is overwhelmed by the experience of being in a ascended state.  You tend to visualize yourself in an almost astral form.  Physiologically the body shows a few definitive phenomenon.  The eyes of the practitioner will actually roll back into the head slightly and track back and forth, which is very similar to the rapid eye movements of REM.  Motor activity will essentially be shut off but there is a significant amount of neurological activity happening.  This practice can have many goals.  During the preparatory stage, or death, the individual will use a variety of techniques to get you into a state of mind to preform a function.
Advanced Uses of Meditation
  While some practices involve changing how you think about things, which if you consider neroplasticity is a physical change.  Some practices have goals of strictly physical changes.  A good example is causing vaso dilation for the treatment of migraines  During a migraine the individuals veins will constrict and spasm.  A theory is that if you cause vaso dilation you can lessen the impact of migraines  Some times people will include niacin which has a vaso dilation effect in medical treatment.  But this Tibetan form of meditation is also a great way to control vaso constriction.  The preparation of death stage involves a lot of visualization of the body to build a connection with mind and body.  The intermission or functional aspect involves building a connection between the desired action, in this case vaso dilation, and an internal stimuli.  The internal stimuli is usually a visualization of an action; in this case turning a nob that effects the temperature of the skin.  After about a year of training the individual can build a sub conscious neurological link between a visualization and the action.  So simply thinking about turning a nob on a temperature dial will lessen the effects of a migraine  This in the end is not that much different Pavlov and his dog's bell.
  So far two different procedures have been discussed.  The use of meditation to achieve a state of mind where staying in this state of mind for an extended period of time will have a healing effect on the body similar to that of REM.  The other is reaching a REM like state and building connections that can be latter used as tools to help fight illness.  With these two main methods there is an endless amount of clinical application for them.
Why use Meditation
  Why would we go out of our way to make these changes to our mind and body if it naturally occurs during sleep?  The answer is simple, no body perfect.  Aside from the problem of modern Americans not getting enough sleep, or even if they do, not getting quality sleep is a good enough reason to supplement any lifestyle with a bit of mediation each day.  There are many situations where the bodies natural healing process can be supplemented with meditation for the sake of improved recovery time and quality of life.  
  Chronic pain is the best example of negative stimuli over a period of time causing many problems within the body which are not directly related to the illness.  Consider a person suffering from migraines caused by an imbalance of hormones.  There is actually very little physiological damage that is being done during these migraines; they mostly involve the sensation of pain.  If a person is suffering from these migraines for an extended period of time they start what is called a “downward spiral”.  The pain causes the individual to be bed ridden and sit for days on end in a state of mind that is riddled with pain.  Sitting in this state will eventually cause to mind to become toxic (emotionally) and gives you a negative view of the world.  They suffer from amazing amounts of stress and anxiety, they loose interest in food and have no motivation to do anything.  They suffer from mal nutrition and due to lack of exercise, physiological decay.  This all leads to more pain and illness.  This cycle of symptoms causing problems and problems causing pain leads the individual into a “downward spiral”.   
  These cycles of pain make treating patients with chronic pain extremely difficult.  Even if you are treating the cause of the problem they may still continue to suffer due to pent up damage.  Meditation and introspection become an essential aspect of working their way out of it.  While throwing medication at the problem can even increase the damage done due to their side effects, or in the case of narcotics their addictive tendencies.  Meditation is a way of taking control over your body and slowly increasing your health.  Simple practices can be used to decrease the sensation of pain and even in some cases, such as migraines, decrease the number of migraines that you have.  Meditation can be used as a great way to manage stress and anxiety  It can act as a substitute for sleep or just help you get better sleep.  It also has the added benefit of making you more connected with you body, making you aware of changes that could be beneficial when presented to your doctors to alter prevention or treatment plans.
Study’s on Meditation  
  To understand the positives and negatives of the study of meditation we will look at a study that looks at stress and mood of patients who currently have cancer.  This study was done on 90 patients with varying age, gender and type of cancer.  Everyone took the Profile of Mood States and the Symptoms of Stress Inventory prior and post experiment.  The Meditation group under went a 90 minute class once a week for seven weeks.  After this period they reported that there was a 65% decrease in their total mood disturbance and 31% reduction of symptoms of stress.  This study clearly shows that meditation is a benefit for people going through chronic pain.  When the data is looked at age, gender and type of cancer had no particular effect on the results.  
  There are thousands of studies like the one above, although studies like these do have many faults.  The meditations were based off the methods of Jon Kabat-Zinn of the Stress Reduction and Relaxation clinic of Massachusetts Medical Center.  Though this is not a standard for these experiments.  Methods used can come from a variety of backgrounds from all out interventions like these to breathing exercises.  Cognitive practices like meditation have been proven for centuries, the community needs to work on isolating aspects of the practice to optimize outcome.  The other major limiter is the amount of time that they are able to test patients.  Seven weeks of practice barley even punctures the surface of what meditation can do.  
  Studies done on Tibetan monks show that the longer the monk had been practicing the more effect they have over there physical bodies.  There is a study where monks are performing a “happiness meditation”.   Their brains were scanned with an MRI pre and post meditation.  There was a very large change in activity in the left per-frontal cortex, which is associated with happiness and a decrease in activity of the right per-frontal cortex associated with sadness.  One of the major aspects of the study was that the amount of change was directly proportional to the amount of time the monk has been studying meditation.  From this we can discern that meditation is a learned skill that can be improved with increased effort.
Conclusion
  In conclusion meditation is still in a primitive state and as technology continues to probe our minds and increase our ability to measure and understand how the brain works, meditations use and application in the medical field will improve.
     
  
 
Bibliography




The way of the Shaman,  by Michael Harner (Jan 1, 1990), 


The Mind's Own Physician: A Scientific Dialogue with the Dalai Lama on the Healing Power of Meditation, Jon Kabat-Zinn (Editor), Richard Davidson (Editor)
The Mind's Own Physician: A Scientific Dialogue With the Dalai , by Dalai Lama XIV Bstan-ʼdzin-rgya-mtsho - New Harbinger Publications Incorporated (2012)

Randomized, Wait-List Controlled Clinical Trial: The Effect of a Mindfulness
Meditation-Based Stress Reduction Program on Mood and Symptoms of Stress in
Cancer Outpatients, MICHAEL SPECA, PSYD, LINDA E. CARLSON, PHD, EILEEN GOODEY, MSW, AND MAUREEN ANGEN, PHD


Sacred texts of the Tebetain Monistary in Neapl.  Written by monks then translated.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Transcendental_Meditation (for dates)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reiki (for dates)

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