MEDITATION: A THERAPEUTIC VIEW
Meditation is an ancient technique that has recently been extracted from its spiritual framework, and applied to therapy for the enhancement of personal well-being.Although we have limited ourselves to reviewing studies that refer only to meditation as a technique, there is abundant literature that relates meditation to a religious-philosophical framework. It could be argued that in extracting the technique from its theoretical and belief context, the meaning and effect of meditation is deprived of its essence--just as an interpretation, cognitive challenge, or a paradoxical injunction would not have the same impact/outcome when removed from its therapeutic context.There are different types of meditation, but all seem to be fundamentally based on the concept of self-observation of the subject's psychic activity in the here and now, with an acceptance of process rather than content. The practice of meditation has positive short- and long-term rewards, the main ones being a calm self-control, called 'the relaxation response'. These effects include a wakeful hypo metabolic physiological state and a balance of the parasympathetic or trophotropic and sympathetic or ergotrophic functions.The evidence of meditative physical effects is consistent with increasing evidence of the biological impact of psychological interventions. It refutes convincingly the stereotypical criticism that talking therapies 'do nothing' or are 'just' placebo.Meditation is not free from side-effects, even for long-term mediators or experienced teachers. Nor is it free of contraindications.
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