Self-Regulation Through Meditation

In the past few years, we have learned that meditation affects every system in our bodies, from our biochemistry to the structure of our brains, from our emotional well-being to our genes which underlies the very nature of our being. Decades of medical research singularly focused on the use of externally applied chemicals, known as medication development or drug research, has resulted in our losing track of what normally controls our internal functions and process. We’ve forgotten the role of our own actions and behavior in the regulation of our emotions and feelings, and ultimately our well-being. Most medical research over recent decades has been externally motivated. That is, it is not the people who need the treatments who are initiating the research. Instead, the drivers of medical research have been those who stand to make a profit off of the outcomes. Our curiosity has been singularly focused on drug development, which has been only one of the many possible areas of medicine. Our medical journals are filled with externally motivated observations on drugs. Our consciousness has been so singularly focused on observations about drugs, that taking a pill has become the first thought that enters our minds when we don’t feel well. This myopic approach to the very first step in the scientific process, “Make an observation”, has caused us to forget the reason that drugs are able to have any affect on the systems of our body in the first place. Drugs act on systems that exist in our bodies because these systems are already in place to be sensitive to changes in our environment. We are born with the ability to adapt our internal environment to compensate for the natural flow of changes that occur around us. We are surprised to learn that our own behavior can affect the nature of our being. We are suspect that our own actions can and do influence these systems that have been so thoroughly defined by their drug action. By ignoring the role of the self in regulating the internal systems, we have become ignorant of why these systems exist in the first place.  We have forgotten that we are designed for self-regulation, and along with the lapse in our cultural awareness, we have forgotten how to self-regulate, until recently. A grass-roots interest in self-care practices is causing a shift in our cultural consciousness. In the past few years, mindfulness practices have exploded onto the covers of major newspapers and magazines and into our lives. Medical research journals have been infiltrated with studies on self-care rituals of meditation and yoga. We are once again reconnecting with self-care practices as ancient as recorded history, to deepen our ability to self-regulate. Meditation is foundational to self-control and self-regulation, that lead to behavioral change. It is the practice of cultivating self-awareness which opens the doors to our capacity for self-control and self-regulation. Meditation and its various derivatives of mindfulness, self-reflection, prayer, and awareness of the sensory experiences of being has always been and will continue to be a powerful tool for self-regulation, behavioral change, and optimal well-being.

Debbie Norris

Debbie Norris

Deborah Norris, Ph.D. is author of In the Flow: Bridging the Science and Practice of Mindfulness, and Editor-in-Chief of MindBodyJournal.com. Dr. Norris is Founder of The Mindfulness Center™, based in Washington, D.C. She is Psychologist-in-Residence and Director of the Psychobiology of Healing Program at American University, and past professor at Georgetown University Medical School. Renowned for her online meditation teacher programs, The Science of Mindful Awareness (SOMA), Dr. Norris is an internationally recognized speaker and educator on mindfulness, yoga, and integrative mind-body therapies. A health scientist with over 40 years of experience ranging from traditional medical and psychotherapeutic practices to integrative therapies and lifestyle practices, she teaches and conducts research in mindfulness, behavioral medicine and other holistic approaches to happiness and well-being.


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