Research has shown that Meditation can contribute to an individual's psychological and physiological well-being. This is accomplished as Meditation brings the brainwave pattern into an alpha state, which is a level of consciousness that promotes the healing state.
there is scientific evidence that Meditation techniques are used to enhance immune functioning in cancer, AIDS, autoimmune patients .can reduce blood pressure and relieve pain and stress. meditation is also used to normalize brain rhythms and chemistry in alcohol and drug addiction, as well as other addictive conditions as well as in learning self-regulation for disorders such as anxiety and hypertension, and for stress management. We consider meditation a recommended practice for anyone seeking high-level wellness.
Dean Ornish, M.D has demonstrated that heart disease can be reversed with a comprehensive program that includes meditation. Many physicians consider meditation a key element of an integrated health program.
Benefits of Meditation
* Deep rest-as measured by decreased metabolic rate, lower heart rate, and reduced work load of the heart.
* Lowered levels of cortisol and lactate-two chemicals associated with stress.
* Reduction of free radicals- unstable oxygen molecules that can cause tissue damage. Free radicals are a major factor in aging and in many diseases.
* Decreased high blood pressure.
* Higher skin resistance. Low skin resistance is correlated with higher stress and anxiety levels.
* Drop in cholesterol levels. High cholesterol is associated with cardiovascular disease.
* Improved flow of air to the lungs resulting in easier breathing. This has been very helpful to asthma patients.
* Younger biological age. On standard measures of aging, long-term Transcendental Meditation (TM) practitioners (more than five years) measured 12 years younger than their chronological age.
* Higher levels of DHEAS in the elderly. An additional sign of youthfulness through Transcendental Meditation (TM); lower levels of DHEAS are associated with aging.
Benefits of Meditation Psychological Benefits
* Increased brain wave coherence. Harmony of brain wave activity in different parts of the brain is associated with greater creativity, improved moral reasoning, and higher IQ.
* Decreased anxiety.
* Decreased depression.
* Decreased irritability and moodiness.
* Improved learning ability and memory.
* Increased self-actualization.
* Increased feelings of vitality and rejuvenation.
* Increased happiness.
* Increased emotional stability.
Health Conditions That Are Benefited By Meditation
It has proven to be a successful coping strategy in helping to deal with drug addiction, a useful tool in psycho-neuro-immunology (PNI) by helping to control the immune system, and an effective manager of stress and pain.
Prolonging Life Expectancy
A strong link has also been established between the practice of Meditation and longevity. Only two factors have been scientifically determined to actually extend life: caloric restriction and lowering of the body's core temperature. Meditation has been shown to lower core body temperature.
Stress refers to any or all the various pressures experienced in life. These can stem from work, family, illness, or environment and can contribute to such conditions as anxiety, hypertension, and heart disease. How an individual sees things and how he or she handles them makes a big difference in terms of how much stress he or she experiences.
Research has shown that hormones and other biochemical compounds in the blood indicative of stress tend to decrease during Meditation practice. These changes also stabilize over time, so that a person is actually less stressed biochemically during daily activity.
This reduction of stress translates directly into a reduction of anxiety and tension. Literally dozens of studies have shown this.
Chronic pain can systematically erode the quality of life.
Anxiety decreases the threshold for pain and pain causes anxiety. The result is a vicious cycle. Compared with people who feel relaxed, those under stress experience pain more intensely and become even more stressed, which aggravates their pain. Meditation breaks this cycle.
Childbirth preparation classes routinely teach pregnant women deep breathing exercises to minimize the pain and anxiety of labor. Few call it breath meditation, but that's what it is.
Meditative techniques are also a key element in the Arthritis self-help Course at Stanford University. More than 100,000 people with arthritis have taken the 12-hour course and learned meditation-style relaxation exercises as part of a comprehensive self-care program. Graduates report a 15 to 20 percent reduction in pain.
In one study overseen by Dr. Kabat-Zinn, 72 percent of the patients with chronic pain conditions achieved at least a 33 percent reduction after participating in an eight-week period of mindful meditation, while 61 -percent of the pain patients achieved at least a 50 percent reduction. Additionally, these people perceived their bodies as being 30 percent less problematic, suggesting an overall improvement in self-esteem and positive views regarding their bodies.
Meditation may not eliminate pain, but it helps people cope more effectively.
Cancer and Other Chronic Illness
Meditation and other approaches to deep relaxation help center people so they can figure out how they'd like to handle the illness and proceed with life. Dr. Ainslie Meares, an Australian psychiatrist who uses meditation with cancer patients, studied seventy-three patients who had attended at least twenty -sessions of intensive meditation, and wrote: Nearly all such patients can expect significant reduction of anxiety and depression, together with much less discomfort and pain. There is reason to expect a 10 percent chance of quite remarkable slowing of the rate of growth of the tumor, and a 50 percent chance of greatly improved quality of life.
Meditation is a key component of Ornish therapy, the only treatment scientifically proven to reverse heart disease.
High blood pressure.
As soon as Dr. Benson learned that TM reliably reduced blood pressure in meditators, he taught the relaxation response to 36 people with moderately elevated blood pressure. After several weeks of practice, their average blood pressure declined significantly, reducing their risk of stroke and heart attack.
Couples dealing with infertility may become depressed, anxious and angry. To help them cope, Alice D. Domar, Ph.D., a psychologist at the Mind/Body Medical Institute, taught the relaxation response to one group of infertile couples. Compared with a similar group of infertile couples who did not learn deep relaxation, the meditators experienced less distress-and were more likely to get pregnant.
This disease causes scaly red patches on the skin. A pilot study at Dr. Kabat-Zinn's clinic suggests that compared with the skin patches of people with psoriasis who receive only standard medical therapy, the skin patches of those who also meditate clear up more quickly.
Asthma, emphysema and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) all restrict breathing and raise fears of suffocation, which in turn makes breathing even more difficult. Studies at Dr. Kabat-Zinn's clinic show that when people with these respiratory conditions learn breath meditation, they have fewer respiratory crises.
Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS), Tension Headaches
Meditation can ease physical complaints such as premenstrual syndrome (PMS), tension headaches and other common health problems.
Meditation gives people a psychological buffer so that life's hectic pace doesn't knock them out. Practicing meditation is like taking a vacation once or twice a day. When you nurture yourself, you accrue tremendous spin-off benefits.
For example, when you are under high stress, it can worsen symptoms of PMS because stress can cause the muscle tension associated with PMS complaints such as fatigue, soreness and aching. On the other hand, when you meditate regularly, you dramatically reduce your body's response to stress, and that can ease the discomfort associated with PMS. The results may not be apparent for several months. You will probably need to meditate regularly for several months before your body responds positively.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Ulcers, and Insomnia
Meditation can also improve irritable bowel syndrome, ulcers, and insomnia, among other stress-related conditions. Eighty percent of the people who use meditation to relieve insomnia are successful.
Meditation can help prevent or treat stress-related complaints such as anxiety, headaches and bone, muscle and joint problems. Meditation also provides an inner sense of clarity and calm, and that, in itself, may help ward off certain illnesses.
meditation may relieve the discomfort of fibromyalgia, a condition that causes fatigue and intensely painful trigger points.
Psychological Benefits of Meditation
Meditation can help most people feel less anxious and more in control. The awareness that meditation brings can also be a source of personal insight and self-understanding.
Handling Repressed Memories and Enjoying Life:
Dr. Borysenko notes that meditation may lead to a breakdown of screen memories so that early childhood abuse episodes and other traumas suddenly flood the mind, making the patient temporarily more anxious until these traumas are healed. Many so-called meditation exercises are actually forms of imagery and visualization that are extraordinarily useful in healing old traumas, confronting death anxieties, finishing 'old business', learning to forgive, and enhancing self-esteem.
Many men and women tend to live in a state of perpetual motion and expectation that prevents them from appreciating the gifts that each moment gives us. We live life in a state of insufficiency, waiting for a mother to love us, for a father to be kind to us, for the perfect job or home, for Prince Charming to come along or to become a perfect person. It's a mythology that keeps us from being whole.
Meditation is a humble process that gently returns us to the now of our lives and allows us to wake up and re-evaluate the way that we live our lives. We realize that the only thing missing is mindfulness, and that's what we practice.
Feelings of helplessness, hopelessness and isolation are hallmarks of depression-the nation's most prevalent mental health problem. Meditation increases self-confidence and feelings of connection to others. Many studies have shown that depressed people feel much better after eliciting the relaxation response.
Sometimes anxiety becomes paralyzing and people feel (wrongly) that they are about to suffer some horrible fate. Panic attacks are often treated with drugs, but studies by Jon Kabat-Zinn, Ph.D., associate professor of medicine at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center in Worcester and director of the medical center's Stress Reduction Clinic, show that if people who are prone to panic attacks begin focused, meditative breathing the instant they feel the first signs of an episode, they are less likely to have a full-blown panic attack.
Spiritual Benefits of Meditation
The longer an individual practices meditation, the greater the likelihood that his or her goals and efforts will shift toward personal and spiritual growth. Many individuals who initially learn meditation for its self-regulatory aspects find that as their practice deepens they are drawn more and more into the realm of the spiritual. Meditation can be a way of becoming more attuned to the spiritual dimension of life - many people can die healed, in a state of compassionate self-awareness and self-acceptance.