Healthcare Application Meditation
Aside from a willingness to place one’s faith in the unproven, those who adhere to the ancient spiritual beliefs of Buddhism and Hinduism share one fundamental practice with patients who have adopted the increasingly prevalent practice of holistic healing: the use of meditation to improve clarity, concentration, and quality of life. Meditation is based on intense personal introspection, wherein an individual typically sits in solitude and silence, focusing their mind completely on a particular reflective topic, or simply concentrating deeply on the vexing concepts of being and nothingness. The process of meditation occurs in many forms throughout the world’s major philosophical models, with Christians and Muslims joining their fellow worshippers in the Eastern religions by using the meditative act of prayer to delve within their mind’s inner sanctum. Today, even secular individuals with no connection to a recognized religious following employ meditation as part of their fitness routine, or to relieve stress in the workplace or domestically. Due to the widespread use of meditation by people from all walks of life, many medical practitioners have published research on the efficacy of this eternal belief system in terms of alleviating a patient’s pain, improving their overall outlook, and enabling a full recovery. By conducting a thorough literature review on the role of meditation in Western medicine through the evolution of American healthcare delivery, a more informed position on this technique can be formed, which is useful because familiarity with alternative healing practices is an essential skill for those working as healthcare providers.
One landmark study on the efficacy of meditation in the relief and management of chronic pain was published in 1982 by Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn, who used his capacity as the Director of the Stress Reduction and Relaxation Program for the University of Massachusetts Hospital to empirically analyze meditation’s potential to reduce pain symptoms. By utilizing a variant of Theravada Buddhism known as mindfulness meditation, Kabat-Zinn taught patients who had been diagnosed with untreatable chronic pain to detach themselves mentally and psychologically from the physical suffering they were forced to endure due to their condition. While this form of meditation did not remove the occurrence of pain, Kabat-Zinn consistently observed that “patients evidenced attitudinal and behavioral changes which can be attributed to the regular practice of mindful meditation: an ability to observe mental events, a reduction in pain levels and pain related behaviors,
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