By November 17, 2012 2 Comments Read More →

20+ More Reasons You Should Meditate

Waking Times

Spiritual benefits of meditation

For millennia, meditation has been an exclusively spiritual practice for serious seekers. By quieting the mind and deeply relaxing the body, the meditator experiences deep states of inner peace, and ultimately, higher states of awareness. There are many subtle benefits of practicing meditation—greater intuition, compassion, awareness, focus, among others—but they are ancillary. Ultimately, meditation is the practice of mystics seeking union with God.

Physical and health benefits of meditation

As meditation has become more well-known in the West, scientists have begun to quantify its physical benefits in hundreds of studies.

Significant benefits have been found for many health conditions, including heart disease, cholesterol, high blood pressure, insomnia, chronic pain, cancer, and immunity. Because meditation is a low-cost intervention with no side-effects, it shows promise for relief of a wide range of societal and health problems.

• In a study of health insurance statistics, meditators had 87% fewer hospitalizations for heart disease, 55% fewer for benign and malignant tumors, and 30% fewer for infectious diseases. The meditators had more than 50% fewer doctor visits than did non-meditators.(1)

• Meditation lowers blood pressure to levels comparable to prescription drugs for those who are normal to moderately hypertensive.(2)

• Meditation increases circulation in beginning meditators by 30%, and in experienced meditators by as much as 65%.(3)

• Meditation has endorsed by the NIH as effective for the relief of chronic pain. Chronic pain sufferers experience a reduction in symptoms of 50% or more.(4)

• 75% of long-term insomniacs who have been trained in relaxation, meditation, and simple lifestyle changes can fall asleep within 20 minutes of going to bed.(5)

• Meditation reduces blood sugar levels in diabetics.(6)

• A group of inner-city residents suffering from chronic pain, anxiety, depression, diabetes and hypertension were trained in meditation. They experienced a 50% reduction in overall psychiatric symptoms, a 70% decrease in anxiety, and a 44% reduction in medical symptoms.(7)

Mental and productivity benefits of meditation

Research on meditation has shown significant improvements in mental health, memory, concentration, and productivity.

• Brain scans show that meditation shifts activity in the prefrontal cortex (behind the forehead) from the right hemisphere to the left. People who have a negative disposition tend to be right-prefrontal oriented; left-prefrontals have more enthusiasms, more interests, relax more, and tend to be happier.(8)

• Researchers tested novice meditators on a button-pressing task requiring speed and concentration. Performance was greater at 40 minutes of meditation than after a 40-minute nap.(9)

• Meditation helps chronically depressed patients, reducing their relapse rate by half.(10)

• Meditators notice more, but react more calmly than non-meditators to emotionally arousing stimuli.(11)

• Those with smoking, alcohol, and eating addictions who have been trained in meditation break their addictions with significantly lower relapse rates than those receiving standard therapies.(12)

• Middle school children who practice meditation show improved work habits, attendance, and GPA.(13)

• Brain scans of meditators show increased thickness in regions of the cortex associated with higher functions like memory and decision making.(14)

• Meditation appears to slow aging. Those meditating five years or more were 12 years younger than their chronological age.(15)


References:
1 D. Orme-Johnson, Pschosomatic Medicine 49 (1987): 493-507.
2 Michael Murphy and Steven Donovan, The Physical and Psychological Effects of Meditation (Institute of Noetic Sciences, 1997).
3 Ibid.
4 J. Kabat-Zinn, L. Lipworth, R. Burney, and W. Sellers, “Four year follow-up of a meditation-based program for the self-regulation of chronic pain,” Clinical Journal of Pain 2(1986): 159-173.
5 Gregg Jacobs, Harvard Medical School, Say Goodnight To Insomnia, (Owl Books, 1999).
6 H. Cerpa, “The effects of clinically standardised meditation on type 2 diabetics,” Dissertation Abstracts International 499 (1989): 3432.
7 B. Roth, T. Creaser, “Meditation-based stress reduction: experience with a bilingual inner-city program,” Nurse Practitioner 22(3) (1997): 150-2, 154, 157.
8 R. Davidson, J. Kabat-Zinn, et al, “Alterations in brain and immune function produced by mindfulness meditation,” Psychosomatic Medicine 65 (2003): 564-570.
9 Reported in The Boston Globe, November 23, 2005
10 J.D. Teasdale, Z.V. Segal, J.M.G. Williams , V. Ridgeway, M. Lau, & J. Soulsby, “Reducing risk of recurrence of major depression using mindfulness-based cognitive therapy,” Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 68 (2000):  615-23.
11 Michael Murphy and Steven Donovan, The Physical and Psychological Effects of Meditation (Institute of Noetic Sciences, 1997).
12 C.N. Alexander, P. Robinson, M. Rainforth, “Treatment and prevention of drug addiction,” Alcoholism Treatment Quarterly 11 (1994): 11-84.
12 J. Kristeller and B. Hallett, “An exploratory study of a meditation-based intervention for binge eating disorder,” Journal of Health Psychology Vol 4, (1999): 357-363.
12 P.A. Royer-Bounouar,“A new direction for smoking cessation programs,”Dissertation Abstracts International 50, 8-B (1989): 3428.
12 M. Shafii, R. Lavely, and R. Jaffe,“Meditation and marijuana,” American Journal of Psychiatry 131 (1974): 60-63.
13 H. Benson, M. Wilcher, et al,  (2000). “Academic performance among middle school students after exposure to a relaxation response curriculum,” Journal of Research and Development in Education 33 (3) (2000): 156-165.
14 Massachusetts General Hospital, reported by Carey Goldberg, The Boston Globe (November 23, 2005)
15 R.K. Wallace, M.C. Dillbeck, E. Jacobe, B. Harrington, International Journal of Neuroscience 16 (1982): 53-58.
16 Ananda: A Place of Awakening 

Excerpted from Freedom from Stress, David and Karen Gamow, Glenbridge Publishing (2006).

2 Comments on "20+ More Reasons You Should Meditate"

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  1. Jammie says:

    Hi,

    I have a love/hate relationship with these types of articles.

    I would love to meditate. I loathe that no one actually writes about meditation.

    It would be fantastic, if someone who knew about medication would write the following for someone who doesn’t have a clue:

    1. Define meditation.
    2. Describe different types of meditations.
    3. Describe a the process of meditation. Meaning there is no right or wrong way, you don’t have to follow certain rules, like candles, incense, binomial beats, wear certain clothing, repeat this affirmation, or say this incantation, etc..

    I personally would love to find a very, very simple, basic method to meditate. Something as basic and natural as breathing. The one thing that I did discover in my searches was that meditation should be as basic as breathing, but then everyone complicates it. No good for a beginner.

    It sounds so simple, but I have spent hours and hours and hours, more then a hundred hours searching the web, it was my sole focus for weeks, hours a night, and I don’t watch much tv.

    There are lots of sites that will hook you in and sell you their method of meditation, and then you find a site that tells you must follow certain rules to meditate, or you find a Tibetan meditation site that is so complicated that a beginner has no chance of understanding, let alone follow through.

    A possible article suggestion for the future? Thanks!

  2. mothman777 says:

    Perhaps one might try the following for a fully conscious type of relationship with one’s true Higher Self, the Lord God, as mind-numbing techniques can make one vulnerable to be prey to psychic interference and the numbness induced by many techniques actually makes one too dopey to use one’s mind effectively to avoid unwanted psychic influences and ‘walk-ins’ etc, or avoid being exploited by egotistical gurus professing to have no egos who are trying to sell you the idea of becoming God whilst they have not yet accomplished that themselves in truth, though with many powerful siddhis they may delude themselves that they are God, and they will get away with it if you indulge them.

    Ask:

    “If there is a Lord God, then, Lord of all the Gods, please teach me how to relate to You and how to interact on the highest level possible with all around me, in the most sattvic manner possible, within and through you, in accordance with your purpose and love.

    “Teach me what true love is, awaken me with the touch of your love, bliss and beauty, so that I might gradually come to know those qualities as my eternal soul nature too, once again.

    “Please guide me to pray how I should, so I can begin to know you as you really are, to have spiritual consciousness in accordance with Yours, the true Lord God, and no other, so that I do not get exploited by any being that is not truly the Lord of all the gods.”

    You can rework these words a thousand ways, as long as you find a sentiment that corresponds with this, and even add more if you like, though I find this does me fine. This will actually enable you to focus sincerely on requesting a genuine relationship with the real God. I experience the reality of Krishna as Lord God, whilst not accepting Yahweh and Allah as any more than demonic man-made concepts that are in truth nothing to do with God whatsoever, all that stuff about burning and boiling people forever, yugh!

    It helps enormously to consciously think of an individual living soul being fully conscious in each every single insect and plant around you, and you will sense that they really have, as they are just expanding their consciousness on slightly different wavelengths than yours.

    I recommend that you set your spiritual direction as precisely as possible at the beginning, or you will waste many years wrangling with the needless complexities of advaitist pseudo-philosophy.

    Think about it, if we were originally all one omniscient, omnipresent soul, fully conscious throughout our entirety throughout all of infinity, having no centre, with every part of infinity being as much a centre of our consciousness as anywhere else, then how could it possibly have become possible for us to forget our eternal nature as such a being? It would of course be quite impossible, yet many fool themselves for many years that they are really ‘getting somewhere’ and that they are really starting to become ‘God’.

    In Vaishnava philosophy, achintya bheda bheda tattva, one can actually achieve far higher consciousness than the advaitist believers. Check out my essay ‘Metanoia’, at Mothman777’s Blog, especially the sections at the end where I go into different vedic philosophies.

    God Himself is the only true Guru, or teacher, though assistants to that Guru exist to help guide people come to God, sometimes descending from the spiritual dimension fully consciously, as a devotee soul Guru Nanak of the Sikhs did, and Supreme Lord Krishna Himself also descended at that same time as Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, who also reintroduced people to love of Lord Krishna, in Mayapur in 1486. Both Chaitanya of the Vaishnavas and Guru Nanak of the Sikhs danced and chanted Hare Krishna together. The term ‘guru’ has several grades, and God is the only true Guru, all other ‘gurus’ being merely assistants to the one true guru.

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