According to ABC news
, many moons ago, a wandering Nepalese prince sat under a tree, vowing not to rise until he attained enlightenment.
After a long night of deep meditation, Siddhartha Gautama, better known as the Buddha, saw the light and declared that suffering is subjective, and can be reduced through self-awareness.
Today, 2500 years later, a growing number of American doctors and healthcare workers are teaching people who are ill how to apply Buddha’s epiphany to their lives.
In hospitals, businesses and community centers around the country, meditation is increasingly being offered as a method of stress reduction, and to help patients better cope with the physical pain and mental strain associated with many medical conditions, including heart disease and HIV infection.
Recent research shows meditation’s soothing effects can be detected in arterial walls and in the brain. Once considered outside the mainstream, today more insurers are paying for meditation, both as a form of medication and as preventive medicine.
Learning to ‘Disidentify’
“Meditation is the act of disidentifying from inner thought flow and concentrating on calming and healing,” explains Robert Thurman, Ph.D., a professor of Indo-Tibetan Buddhist Studies at Columbia University in New York and the first American to become a Tibetan Buddhist monk. Through meditation, doctors help patients detach from their pain and anxieties and cultivate a connection between the mind and the body, he says.
While there are many kinds of meditation, the mindfulness approach, used widely in hospitals around the country, focuses primarily on breathing. Practices vary, but the basic idea involves sitting comfortably, with eyes closed, spine straight and attention focused on breathing.
Practitioners aim to maintain a detached, calm awareness of their thoughts and sensations. Through mindfulness, experts say, meditators learn to pay attention to the present and cultivate clarity of mind, equanimity and wisdom.
Meditation may be the key to healing many diseases and disorders, including depression, because many of which are related to stress. Meditation is about mindfulness, which is paying attention to the present moment. Depression is a mental disorder due to focusing much on the past, and projecting it into the future as worries. Attachment is an emotional distraction of the mind from facing the reality. An individual with depression often is reluctant to face the reality of life; by being reluctant, chemicals in the mind are produced that create the symptoms of depression, such as loss of interest in doing daily chores, sleeping most of the time, and among others. The only way out of the blues is to let go of the past or the stress perceived by the mind. Stress comes from the ego-self. Get rid of your ego, and there will be no stress. No ego, no stress.