Posted by: Lea | March 18, 2009

Meditation Improves Health

There’s not much information in the way of history on meditation, but researchers have traced it back to ancient times. Some are suggesting that meditation and its altered states of consciousness was originally discovered by primitive societies while staring into the flames of their fires. To give an example of meditation’s long history, techniques for meditation were mentioned in the Indian sanskrit scriptures, “Tantras,” dating 5000 years ago.

In the beginning, meditation was used by the people to have clarity and focus. It wasn’t until 500 B.C. that Buddha expanded meditation into a method for enlightenment. Meditation then spread through the eastern world via the Buddhist monks and missionaries who traveled to new lands and taught this form of meditation.

Science and the medical professions have also taken an interest in meditation and its benefits as a practice that gives balance physically, emotionally and mentally. They now recommend meditation as a way to treat anxiety, stress, and depression. Meditation dissolves stress and enables clearer thinking in order to make better choices. People who meditate also experience higher levels of self-esteem.

What about the health benefits?

Meditation can ease PMS, tension headaches and other common health complaints.

Transcendental Meditation has proved helpful for drug addition and in psychoneuroimmunology, meditation helps to control the immune system and  effectively manages stress and pain.

Life Expectancy

Science has determined that there are only two factors, caloric restriction and lowering of the body’s core temperature, that actually extend our life. Studies have proved that meditation lowers core body temperature.

Stress

Studies have shown that hormones and other biochemical compounds  in the blood, that are stress indicators, tend to decrease during TM practice and over time,  the person  becomes less stressed while performing  their daily activity.

Pain

Chronic pain causes anxiety, which in turn decreases a person’s pain threshold. People under stress experience pain more intensely, causing them to  become even more stressed, which aggravates their pain. This creates a vicious cycle that meditation stops.

During Childbirth classes, pregnant women are taught deep breathing exercises to minimize labor pain and anxiety. In reality, these exercises are breath meditation.

Did you know that the Arthritis self-help Course at Stanford University uses meditative techniques? This is a 12-hour course that people with arthritis take, during which they learn relaxing meditation techniques as part of their self-care program. People who complete the course report 15-20% pain reduction.

Meditation may not eliminate pain, but it helps people cope more effectively.

Cancer

Using meditation for deep relaxation helps people to become centered so they can best decide how they would like to handle their illness and how they would like to proceed with life.

Dr. Ainslie Meares, an Australian psychiatrist who uses meditation with cancer patients, reported in the Medical Journal of Australia that after using intensive meditation, his patients experienced a regression of cancer.

Heart disease

Ornish therapy is the only treatment scientifically proven to reverse heart disease and the treatment includes meditation

High blood pressure

After several weeks of practice, blood pressure will decrease significantly, reducing the risk of stroke or heart attack.

Psoriasis

Studies being performed at Dr. Kabat-Zinn’s clinic show the group that meditates along with receiving the standard medical therapy, experiences a faster clearing of skin patches than the people who receive only standard medical therapy.

Respiratory

Studies show that people with Asthma, emphysema and COPD  who practice breath meditation, have fewer respiratory crises.

And the list of health benefits goes beyond what is listed here. Do you practice meditation? If not, why?

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Responses

  1. Great post, I will stumble. I teach meditation both from a health and spiritual perspective, and have found meditation practices described in the texts of virtually every world religion (and I would say that the ancient Hindu rishes actually wrote about it as a spiritual practice even before the Buddha, but the historical dating is unclear, so the Buddha may have been first…) Anyway, I actually started meditating for health reasons (migraines in college) and then it evolved into a spiritual practice, so I think people can come at it from either direction. Truly anyone can benefit. Thanks for the overview:-)

  2. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on meditation. A word which means peace and wonder to many and a word that conjures up strange images to those who do not understand the many ways of meditation.


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