Meditation practiced in Sahaja Yoga is good for heart, mind, body and soul. Sahaja Yoga is the easiest, most direct method available to anyone who seeks to discover the Inner Self and explore the depths of spirituality.
It offers a practical method for understanding your own subtle energy system and tapping into this powerful force. The awareness of the subtle energy system is completely verifiable through a sensation of the flow of the energy on the palms and finger tips and on the top of the head.
Sahaja Yoga positively influences mental health through many different mechanisms. Several studies have documented meditation’s ability to regulate emotion, both in the short term and, through regular meditation, over the longer term. Because meditation promotes neuroplasticity and helps train neural mechanisms, meditation can, over time, literally rewire the brain in positive ways. Thus, short-term effects may ultimately become long-term gains.
Combined evidence from clinical and neurobiological studies has demonstrated meditation's ability to influence brain chemical activity and alter brain structures in specific ways that help regulate attention, mood, and emotional processing. This means meditation can help treat mental health conditions such as mood, anxiety and attention-deficit disorders, as well as improve overall mental health and well-being.
Through Sahaja Yoga, we experience thoughtless awareness on a higher plane of consciousness that transcends the ordinary mental plane where thoughts and feelings are processed. In this way, Sahaja Yoga provides the unique advantage of allowing us to detach from our thoughts and simply observe them, which ultimately helps us balance our emotions.
Sahaja Yoga’s state of thoughtless awareness has been shown to have measurable effects on the brain's electrical activity.
▪ A 2005 EEG study demonstrated that Sahaja Yoga increases positive emotions, reduces negative emotions, improves emotional resilience and coping skills. Regular training of attention, paired with positive emotional experiences during the meditation, increases psychological stability.
▪ Several studies suggest that regular Sahaja Yoga practitioners develop the ability to literally turn off neural circuitry that drives negative, intrusive, disturbing or irrelevant ‘noise’.
▪ An MRI study found that meditators show increases in emotions such as empathy and compassion when meditating and that the extent of these emotions was directly proportional to their level of experience with meditation.
Through meditation, we focus our attention inward and are able to remain focused on the present, rather than obsessing about the past or worrying about the future.
▪ EEG studies of Sahaja Yoga have found that thoughtless awareness produces greater connectivity and synchronicity between brain regions, which produces more balanced and integrated brain functioning. We become better at balanced, holistic thinking, which enhances our ability to witness the problem, and rather than reacting emotionally and becoming entangled with the problem. For experienced Sahaja meditators, these changes in brain activity were found to last beyond the meditation session itself.
▪ Some studies have suggested that meditation may actually alter the fundamental electrical balance between the brain’s cerebral hemispheres, which can alter the way we process emotions on an ongoing basis.
▪ Other studies have found that Sahaja Yoga helps the brain reduce distractions and “noise” and maintain a higher level of attentional focus.
▪ Many studies have found that people who have meditated for several years are physiologically (both neurologically and physically) younger compared to standard measures of their chronological age.
Sahaja Yoga offers a practical, systematic method for enhancing many other critical aspects of mental health, such as:
▪ Self-esteem -- Sahaja Yoga improves self-esteem by improving several key emotional processes: ego recognition and regulation, emotional balance and maturity, self-awareness, self-confidence, self-image, self-respect, sense of self-worth, and reducing negative self-talk and faulty thinking.
▪ Defenses — Sahaja Yoga reduces our defensiveness by reducing egoism, increasing self-awareness, helping us cope with reality and maintain our sense of self-worth, improving our reactions to emotional conflicts, and helping us accept and manage unwanted impulses, thoughts, feelings and behaviors that we’ve been defending against.
▪ Emotional intelligence -- Sahaja Yoga improves emotional intelligence by increasing emotions such as empathy and compassion and promoting qualities such as good attention and self-awareness. Meditation enhances the ability to perceive, identify, understand and manage emotions, and use our emotions constructively to guide our thinking.
▪ Self-actualization -- Sahaja Yoga helps us develop our abilities and achieve our greatest potential by: becoming less egotistical and more inner-directed, self-motivated, self-reliant and emotionally mature; developing deeper interpersonal relationships; adopting a more holistic, positive worldview; becoming more purposeful, creative, productive and open to new experiences with a focus on higher aspirations.
▪ Self-realization/self-transcendence -- Sahaja Yoga can help us discover the authentic self through psychological and spiritual self-striving and ultimately transcend the self to live in the world in an enlightened way, exploring the higher reaches of human consciousness and spiritual fulfillment.
The core goal of Sahaja Yoga is spiritual well-being and not cure, however, it has been found to work very well as an adjunct therapy or as a supporting aid for many diseases and disorders along with regular medical treatment.
Stress relief is an automatic benefit that practically every Sahaja practitioner experiences; in fact, stress relief can be thought of as a universal benefit when treating serious diseases and disorders. Several studies have shown that meditation helps regulate key neurotransmitters and neurohormones (such as cortisol, epinephrine and norepinephrine) that are responsible for the body’s automatic stress response.
▪ Several studies of Sahaja Yoga have demonstrated that thoughtless awareness significantly improves our ability to cope with adverse events by reducing stress and anxiety levels and boosting our ability to introspect and regulate negative thoughts and emotions. We are able to appraise distressing situations with detachment and objective, nonjudgmental awareness, which reduces the associated stress.
▪ A 2011 Australian study found Sahaja Yoga to be highly effective in relieving occupational stress and improving workplace health. Participants also experienced an improvement in depressive symptoms and anxiety.
▪ Another study demonstrated that Sahaja Yoga can trigger an increase in beta-endorphins in men, which can help improve their mood, reduce blood pressure, respiration rate and anxiety.
Sahaja Yoga meditation increases activity in the parasympathetic nervous system and reduces activity in the sympathetic nervous system, which restores balance and homeostasis and reduces autonomic nervous system activity – which ultimately reduces blood pressure, pulse and respiratory rate.
▪ A 2012 study of stress and hypertension compared the benefits of Sahaja Yoga with conventional medical treatment. Meditators in Sahaja Yoga significantly improved systolic and diastolic blood pressure and increased blood pressure control, compared to participants who received conventional medical treatment and showed no improvement.
▪ Another study in India found similar results for a group of 35- to 50-year olds with hypertension who practiced Sahaja Yoga for 12 weeks.
Because quality meditation naturally sharpens attention and focus and reduces impulsiveness and hyperactivity, it’s a promising therapy for people of all ages who have ADHD. Sahaja Yoga, in particular, is non-commercial, thus accessible to everyone as a no-cost alternative to medication and other conventional ADHD behavioral treatments.
▪ Studies have found that children who participated in a Sahaja Yoga meditation program for several weeks (as a supplemental therapy) showed improved attention and reduced hyperactivity and impulsiveness.
▪ Children participating in another Sahaja Yoga program that involved meditating at home for several weeks showed improved sleep patterns, attention and concentration, and notably fewer conflicts in their day-to-day lives.
▪ An EEG study measuring the brain activity of Sahaja Yoga meditators showed a significant reduction in disturbance or noise within the meditators’ brains at the time when the meditators reported entering the state of thoughtless awareness. The state of thoughtless awareness is unique to Sahaja Yoga meditation.
Sahaja Yoga’s state of thoughtless awareness helps to balance our thoughts and feelings. Since depression is often accompanied by feelings of isolation and loneliness, Sahaja Yoga helps people with depression by reducing self-critical thoughts and feelings and producing non-reactive and balanced attention.
▪ Many neuroimaging studies have found that meditation has the ability to regulate emotional states. One UK study found that the practice of Sahaja Yoga for a few weeks had a significant impact on patients with Major Depression, compared to groups which received other forms of treatment.
▪ Another study demonstrated that Sahaja Yoga practitioners exhibited significantly higher emotional resilience in managing feelings of depression and anxiety.
▪ A number of meditation studies have shown that meditation can physically improve brain structures over time and thus aid in the treatment of depression.
▪ Sahaja Yoga has been found to influence neurotransmitters and neurohormones, such as serotonin, norepinephrine, epinephrine, dopamine, GABA and melatonin, which play a role in regulating mood and positive emotions.
Asthma is known to be exacerbated by stress and negative thoughts and feelings. Studies have shown that the practice of Sahaja Yoga and the resulting state of thoughtless awareness automatically helps relieve stress and reduce negative thoughts and feelings, which, in turn, improves coping skills and ultimately reduces symptoms of asthma.
▪ One study showed that practicing Sahaja Yoga for 16 weeks reduced asthma attacks and improved lung function. Sahaja also decreased the negative effects of stress, while the control group that did not practice Sahaja Yoga showed no improvements.
▪ Meditation has a greater impact on managing asthma symptoms and overall quality of life than other alternative therapies such as mind-body relaxation, acupuncture and breathing exercises.
Scientific studies have shown that meditation can help manage epilepsy in several ways, including influencing brain chemical activity implicated in causing seizures, repairing damaged brain structures, and changing brain activity patterns. Research to date suggests that Sahaja Yoga can be an effective long-term epilepsy management strategy for many.
▪ In 2006, a clinical trial of people with chronic epilepsy showed that Sahaja Yoga can help reduce the frequency of epileptic seizures.
▪ In another study involving Sahaja Yoga and other groups, the group practicing Sahaja Yoga reported a greater than 60% decrease in epileptic seizures.
▪ In a study of refractory epilepsy (chronic, drug resistant epilepsy), the group practicing Sahaja Yoga demonstrated significant reduction in the duration and frequency of seizures over a 6-month period.
▪ Other studies performed at the Sahaja Yoga Research and Health Centre in India have found similar positive results.
We regularly find that a large number of Sahaja Yoga practitioners get rid of their addictions over time. Recent scientific evidence may help explain why this happens. The state of thoughtless awareness, which is central to the Sahaja Yoga practice, improves emotional regulation and enhances cognitive and emotional resilience.
Sahaja Yoga can help treat addiction and substance abuse by rewiring old, automatic pleasure-reward-motivation circuits in the brain that drive unhealthy cravings making it easier to discard bad habits and replace them with new, healthy ones. We’re better able to recognize our triggers and extinguish the associated desire to abuse drugs or alcohol.
Forgiveness (located at the Agnya chakra) is a key goal and benefit of practicing Sahaja Yoga. One clinical study found a strong correlation between substance abuse recovery and the ability to forgive others, forgive oneself and to feel forgiven by God. Of these three kinds of forgiveness, the ability to forgive oneself was found to be most essential for alcohol addiction recovery and, over the longer term, relapse prevention.
Meditation has been found to help manage diabetes by effecting mechanisms that regulate blood glucose levels and insulin production. In general, meditation can help combat diabetes by influencing the immune system, reducing oxidative stress and managing diabetes side effects.
The International Sahaja Yoga Research and Health Centre has demonstrated positive results in their research on the effects of Sahaja Yoga on diabetes.
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