In January 2020, the coronavirus outbreak began and has affected millions of people around the world. Citizens are forced to stay home, schools started online classes as well. Under the circumstances of the virus, the psychological problem become an unprecedented concern. People are feeling anxious about the possibility of catching the diseases, and without a good habit, we tend to stick to our phones all day which causes troubles. All these can lead to lower immune ability and inefficiency in studying due to a lack of concentration.
On Feb 7, the national health commission posted notification addressing that meditation can help temper anxiety and thus improve immunity. Meditation is the process of an individual uses a technique to train attention and awareness in order to achieve a mentally clear and stable and calm state. This national notification announced meditation to be a scientific method of treating psychological issues. Talking about meditation, including me for the first time, we tend to feel like it is somehow mysterious and not scientific. We might relate meditation with religion or ritual. Some people might also consider it as a recreation for the elite class exclusively, as a way of seeking for higher level of self-satisfaction. However, these are all somewhat biased misconception. Now let’s see how can meditation in a scientific way help everybody during the outbreak. We will discuss the benefit in these perspectives: how meditation can help deal with the direct effect virus can have on us, including relieving stress as well as improving immune systems; and how meditation can help people work or study more efficiently at home during the outbreak, including how they help people focus and how they call out the deepest potential of humans.
Meditation helps people relieve stress and anxiety. All these statistics and numbers about the infected on the Internet, all those news that are hard to discern whether fake or real, we are likely to be sunk into the anxiety and stress inevitably caused by the coronavirus. The experiment done by S. Karger AG, Basel has proven meditation to be helpful in relaxing our mind a little bit. They targeted 28 individuals that volunteered to participate, and put them into either an experimental group that practiced meditation or nonintervention control group. The results show that there is a reduction in overall psychological abnormal symptoms and an increase in overall sense of control and utilization of an accepting mode of control in their lives, meaning that they are able to be more calm when dealing with thorny issues.
Meditation helps people improve immune system. Dealing with anxiety actually helps you physiologically as well. When you got too much on your mind, you might experience a decrease in the function of your immune system without noticing. Anxiety causes the release of the stress hormone cortisol in bulk all throughout your body. During periods of intense stress, as though you were about to face a predator, cortisol is trying to help reduce inflammation by weakening some of the antibodies that can increase inflammation as the Calm Clinic explained on its website. This is not a good thing especially when we are under the threat of virus. Meditation can help you improve your immune system by reducing you stress level and more directly, help producing more antibodies that bind with pathogens to destroy them. Davidson, Richard J. team, after giving 25 subjects a training program of mindfulness meditation, tested the antibody activity level of the subjects. The result shows significant increase in antibody amount to the influenza vaccine injected. This provides us a scientific perspective on how meditation affects our immune system.
Meditation helps people focus when efficiency is needed. Except for the direct impact coronavirus can have on us, there are other negative impact potentially imposed on us because of the long-lasting quarantine. Students are staying home to have online classes. Being in home is a lot different than being in school where all your behaviors are confined by teachers and students. All kinds of electronic devices are tempting us, so how can we focus on study so that we can keep up with the academics? Meditation helps you out. Marietta Manna team did an experiment on some novices who never participated in meditation before. They gave them training on two types of meditation: Focused Attention meditation, in which you focus on one thing such as your breath and try not to think too much, and Open Monitoring meditation, in which you sense the emotions and thoughts within you. The results show that both of the types helps elevate the conscious processing of thoughts and emotion content by significant self-regulation of frontal-parietal and insular areas in the brain. Frontal-parietal is the brain area developed the latest for human. This part of the brain is in charge of more sophisticated brain activity like decision-making, attention or controlling. By meditating, the connection between the neurons in the frontal parietal lobe is slightly changed through the process, and if controlled well, you can reached the goal of better focus. Next time when you feel scattered-mind, take a deep breath and try to meditate. It needs practice.
Meditation helps people increase their creativity. Besides helping us concentrate, another huge perk of meditation you might never thought of is that it can help you dig our your deepest potential and make you a better person. The experiment above has shown that meditation can alter the structure of brain slightly, so it should become no wonder that it can even shape the way you think. Ding Xiaoqian group conducted an experiment on forty Chinese undergraduates, and sorted them into an Integrated body mind training meditation group or a relaxation training group. The results show that the previous group exhibit a better performance on divergent thinking test (The test is composed of several elements: by the answers’ fluency: showing the ability to produce and consider many alternatives; originality: showing the ability to produce ideas that differ from others; elaboration: the ability to produce ideas in detail and flexibility: the ability to produce responses from a wide perspective) which scientifically relates to the creativity.
Meditation helps people develop intelligence level as well. Robert W. Cranson team conducted a two-year longitudinal study on the subjects who did twice-daily practice of the Transcendental Meditation program and tested them on the intelligence and reaction time, the results show that the participation results in improvements in measures related to general intelligence.
Meditation is a good way to improve our psychological and physiological state, thus protect us against the virus. It is also a good method to develop good life-long habits. In order to pursue meditation and a better “yourself”, find some authoritative meditation classes online. Don’t grudge your money these days. Some courses can be relatively cost-high, but the benefit will outweigh your loss and accompany you throughout your life.