Thursday, December 12, 2013
Confronting Ageism and My Practicing Meditation as I age
This post helps me put together two of my important thoughts. The first about age stereotypes and and the second about the basic process of Meditation. It all comes together at the bottom of the article, where a blog by the authors is listed, For me, meditation is a daily activity and Ageism continues to be a major factor in my continued activity to help others
The Content of Age Based Stereotypes
Clusters of age based stereotypes reflect the ageist attitudes, (some positive) such as the notion that older aged adults are less competent the younger adults or on the other hand, wiser. Studies also suggest the belief that as we age, we are less independent and strong. We are also seen as less attractive. Hence we often see commercials promising that the item for sale will help reduce wrinkles. “ Consider the number of terms that are used for older adults that reflect unattractiveness, such as crone, goat, hag, witch, withered, and wrinkled (Palmore, 1990)
For those of you who are interested in ageism the items are on Table 9.3, p. 376, in the book listed below. There are five factors considered characteristics of aging
Get upset easily ;Talk to themselves; Grouchy; Intolerant/impatient; Rigid Critical; Miserly
Health / Physical Appearance/ Personality
Have health problems; Never fully recover illness Walk slowly; Wrinkled
Talks slowly;Hard of hearing
Are set in their ways; Meddlesome; Old-fashioned; Think about the good old days; Gives good advice; Interesting to meet; Good companion; Likeable
Poor; Hopeless; Unhappy; Lonely; Insecure; Complains at lot
Unproductive; Not optimistic
How Meditation Benefits Health?
Meditation is the practice to train his or her mind to gain some benefits. The meditation practice is originated as spiritual practice in Asian for thousands of years. The techniques of meditation are using awareness of physical process such as breathing and sensation surrounding body to gain conscious thoughts (Mackenzie & Rakel, 2006). There are some misunderstandings or myths about meditation. Some people believed that meditation is a religious practice as it appeared to be practice in the ancient religious. In fact, meditation is the universal practice for anyone with different religious or even no religion. Some people said that meditation is for old people. Actually mediation is suitable to all age groups. Also, there is a misunderstanding that meditation is the thought control. In reality meditation is the practice that mediator is just witness the thoughts or sensation surrounding the body without trying to involve or control his or her thought. The person meditating will be later able to accept the situations as they are and move into the deeper silence and relaxing space (Ten Myths about meditation, 2012). Recently, meditation is widely practiced in the west with the belief that it has positive affects on health (Mackenzie & Rakel, 2006).
How meditation affects the health is still under the process of researching and learning. It is known for many of those who meditate that meditation can truly benefits health such as relieving stress, reducing chronic illnesses’ symptoms, or boosting immune system. But there are still some questions for people who not know or understand about meditation frequently ask. Can meditation relieve stress? Can meditation reduce the symptoms of chronic illnesses? Or, can meditation improve an immune system? The information in this paper will address evidences to support how mediation can benefit health; especially, when dealing with stress, illnesses, and immune suppression. In point of fact, the research has shown meditation can benefit health because it can relieve a stress, reduce the symptoms of chronic illnesses and improve an immune system.
The researches show that meditation practice has been accepted as an alternative way to reduce stress. According to Mackenzie and Rakel, they mention about the history of mediation that was introduced to western medicine as a treatment for stress since1979. Meditation techniques have been used in the medical centers and hospitals for a long time to reduce stress. The recent review of the scientific literature showed that there were over 60 studies that examined the effects of mindful-based stress reduction program and improving mental and physical health (2006). From this evidence, it shows that meditation has been accepted to western medicine as an alternative ways for stress reduction for long periods of time. Stress is known to affect the body negatively. According to American Heart Association, the body will release hormone and adrenaline when stress, which can cause high heart rate, high blood pressure, weaken immune system and uncomfortable physical and emotional symptoms such as headache, stomach ache, and depression (2011). According to the article “Benefits of meditation for stress management,” the author explained that meditation can reverse stress response to the opposite ways such as slow down heart rate and breathing which will benefits the body by helps stabilized blood pressure, increase oxygen consumption, and restore the body (Scott, 2012).
There is other evidence that supports the ideas that meditation can reduce stress. According to Parker, the study of stress reduction research has shown that transcendental meditation affect the human’s metabolism by lowering the biochemical byproducts of stress such as lactate, decreasing heart rate, blood pressure and positive change in brain waves (Parker, 2007). The level of Lactic acid will elevate when that person confront with stressful situation (Young, 2011). This study can prove that meditation can relieve stress by showing the result physically. Another research that supports the main point that meditation can reduce stress is the result of ECG data from the research. The study shows that meditation induced relaxation by increasing the frontal lobe alpha wave activity and coherence which are associated with being awake and in a resting state (Everly & Lating, 2002). Alpha waves are the brain waves that have a characteristic of wakeful rest which means that person is alert but relaxed (Brain waves and meditation, 2010). This study result means that people who meditated will feel relax but awake and fully conscious, unlike sleeping. When people are sleeping, the neuronal communications between brain areas are partly diminished. So, people tend to loss their consciousness or reduce their awareness and perception of the surrounding during sleep (Samann et al., 2011). On the other hands, the study proves that meditation practice can make people relax or reduce their stress when they are awake or while they are doing activities in the daily lives.
Meditation not only can reduce stress, it can also reduce some symptoms of chronic illnesses as shown on many researches. One example of chronic illnesses is the MS or Multiple sclerosis. According to Dr. Bowling, usually multiple sclerosis patients suffer from pain, anxiety, and depression. His study suggested that meditation may be helpful for relieving stress, anxiety, depression, insomnia, and pain for patient with MS (Multiple sclerosis). He suggested that feeling of control, empowerment, and self-esteem may develop through meditation and progressive muscle relaxation may improve insomnia. The study has shown that meditation along with imagery decreased both anxiety and physical complaints during the physical rehabilitation process of MS patients (2007). Moreover, another example of chronic illness is Psoriasis which is the disease that affects skin. The study has shown that Psoriasis patients who listened to the meditation recording saw their Psoriasis clear significantly faster than the group that did not hear the meditation recordings; patient undergoing drug and phototherapy for Psoriasis while listening to the meditation recordings had fifty percent skin clearing in an average of 48.5days, compared to 85 days for the group that did not listen to the tape (Stork, 2011). The study suggested that the group of meditated patients is able to recover from the disease faster than the other group who did not meditate. Nowadays, many people suffer from heart diseases. According to CDC, “About 600,000 people die of heart disease in the U.S. every year that’s 1 in every 4 deaths.” (2012). One of the study of Meditation and heart disease shows the group of patients that have high risks of heart attack by dividing them into two groups. Both groups were given treatment for high blood pressure and atherosclerosis, but one of the groups has to practice meditation 15-20 minutes a day. Over five years, the patients who practiced meditation experienced 47 percent fewer heart attacks, strokes, and death compared with the control group (Wang, 2009). This study suggested that meditation can lower the symptoms or risks of patient with heart disease also decrease the death rate. One of the studies shows that meditation can improve the symptoms of Fibromyalgia which is a syndrome of chronic pain and fatigue (Mackenzie&Rakel, 2006). The study reported that over one-half of the patients that participated in meditation program had improved their symptoms, increased positive mood, and positive coping responses (Mackenzie & Rakel, 2006).
In addition, meditation practice has been used for Cancer patient to improve symptoms of Cancer. Many cases report the regression of cancer with intensive meditation (Mackenzie & Rakel, 2006). Studies have shown that meditation can help reduce pain, reduce stress, reduce depression, reduce anger, reduce confusion, improve immune function, improve mood and improve the quality of life for cancer patients (Mackenzie & Rakel, 2006).
It is known that mind and body can affect each other such as people may become sick easier when they stress. The meditation practice is about training our mind. It is directly affect our mind and can affect our body. The research shows that meditation can improve an immune system. According to Davis, the study shows immune function test by dividing volunteers into two groups. One had meditated for eight weeks, and another group did not meditate. Both groups were given flu shots. The blood test was taken from both groups. The result showed that the group that meditated had higher levels of antibodies produce against the flu virus (2005). From the study result, it suggested that the body will produce more antibodies which are part of human’s immune system to fight the illnesses when people practice meditation. This is a strong evidence to support that meditation can improve the immune system. Besides, according to Storrs, The research suggested that people who were doing mindfulness meditation were more protected against illnesses. The researchers divided the participants into three groups. The first group did not change their habits. The second group started an eight-week program of moderate exercise. The third group spent the same amount of time in mindfulness meditation. The researchers followed the participants for one cold and flu season and asked them to call at the first sign of an illness and record their symptoms daily. The result shows that the meditation group lost 16 days of work to illness, the exercise group lost 32, and the group that did not change their habits lost 67 days. The study suggested that participants in the meditation group seem to suffer less and feel sick for less amount of time than other groups (2012). Therefore, the study’s result proves that meditation can improve immune system as seen from the amount of sick time.
According to the research in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, the article suggested the study of meditation and immune response of athletes. Since it is well-known stress and maximum workload of exercises will suppress the immune system. This study suggested that meditation may modify the suppressive influence of physical stress on the immune system. The research shows that the blood tests before and after exercise of two groups, one with meditating athletes. The athletes who meditated have lesser T-cell than the control groups. The T-cell is known for immune suppressor which means that the meditating athlete group has less immune suppressor even after workload exercise or stress (Solberg, Halvorsen, Sundgot-Borgen, Ingier& Holen, 1995). When people have less immune suppression, their immune system will function better. Therefore, the result of this study suggested that the meditation helps improve immune system.
Meditation has known for a long time. However, many people still do not understand how meditation works and how it may benefit their lives, especially for health. In fact, when people understand the meditation and practice it the right way, the studies have shown that the meditation may benefits health.
Many studies have shown that meditation can reduce stress. The meditation has been used in Western medicine as an alternative way for stress reduction since 1979(Mackezie & Rakel, 2006). The study has shown that meditation can reverse stress response to the body in the opposite way and it appears to have positive affect for the body (Scott, 2012). The studies’ results proved that meditation can reduce stress such as the study that suggested meditation can lower the lactate level which appeared when stress (Parker, 2007). Or, the study that suggested positive brain waves after meditate when check with ECG data (Everly & Lating, 2002).
Meditation can also reduce some symptoms of chronic illnesses. The studies suggested that meditation can reduce the symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis such as anxiety, depression, pain and insomnia (Bowling, 2007). As well, the studies suggested that the Psoriasis patients that meditated recovered from the disease faster than patients who did not meditate (Stork, 2011). Furthermore, the studies have shown that the meditation can decrease the risks of heart attacks, stroke, and death in the patients that have heart disease (Wang, 2009). Additionally, the studies have shown that meditation can reduce the symptoms of patients with Fibromyalgia and Cancer (Mackenzie & Rakel, 2006).
Besides, the researches have shown that meditation can improve immune system. One of the evidence is the blood test that shows high level of antibodies in the meditation group that received flu shot compared to the control group that did not meditate (Davis, 2005). Other evidence is the records of symptoms and sick time of meditation groups compared to other group who did not meditate. The study suggested that the meditation group suffered less and spent less sick time in cold and flu season (Storrs, 2012). The other evidence is the study’s result that shows the athletes who meditated have less immune suppressor after workload of exercise or stress than other athletes that did not meditated (Solberg, Halvorsen, Sundgot,-Borgen, Ingier&Helen, 1995).
Therefore, this documentation suggested that the research has shown meditation can benefit health because it can relieve a stress, reduce the symptoms of chronic illnesses and improve an immune system.
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i Whitney,B.E.& Kite M.E. (2006). The Psychology of Prejudice and Descrimination, Thomson, Wadsworth, For more go to www.wadsworth.com