Science shows six ways meditation boosts health

Can meditation—which, after all, is extolled and practised by millions for its efficacy in bestowing peace and harmony—lead the way in resolving the traditional conflict between science and religion? An ever- increasing volume of scientific data on meditation’s documented benefits for the human body and mind seem to offer a resounding  “yes” Here are brief snapshots of some of that diverse research:

1. It enhances the performance of the brain:

Ground breaking new research is demonstrating that ” meditative practice can change the workings of the brain,” writes Marc Kaufman in the Washington post (January 3, 2005). He quote Dr. Richard Davidson, a neuroscientist at the University of Wisconsin: “what we found is that the long time practitioners showed brain activation on a scale we have never seen before. Their mental practice is having an affect on the brain in the same way golf or tennis practice will enhance performance.”According to Kaufman, professor Davidson says the research “demonstrates that the brain is capable of being trained and physically modified in ways few people can imagine.”

In her 2010 book Brave New Brain, Judith Horstman writes:”(Davidson) and other neuroscientists studying meditation foresee a time when mental exercises such as meditation will be taught in the classroom, beginning with preschool or kindergarten, to make them a lifelong habit and help children learn how to quiet mind and body, focus thoughts, and control emotions”

2. It is one of the best pain- management strategies:

Fadel Zeidan, ph.D; leader of a study done at wake Forest Baptist Medical centre, said: “Only a little over an hour of meditation training can dramatically reduce both the experience of pain and pain- related brain activation. Meditation produced a greater reduction in pain than even morphine or other pain- relieving drugs”

According to the Los Angeles Times (October 29, 2007), “Increasingly, doctors across the country are recommending meditation to treat pain, and some of the nation’s top hospitals, including Stanford, Duke and NYU Medical center, now offer meditation programs to pain patients.”

3.It reduces blood pressure:

Dr. Randall Zusman, a researcher at Massachusetts General Hospital, describes the effect of meditation on hypertension patients who had been unable to get their blood pressure under control with drugs. For about forty of the sixty patients trained in a basic meditational practice to induce the “relaxation response,” “their blood pressure dropped, and they dropped some of their meditation. It was striking. It was statistically significant, but more important it was clinically significant to these people,” he says.

4.It combats Aging of the Body:

Intriguing recent research about what causes aging in the body focuses on the degeneration of telomeres— the protective caps at the ends of chromosomes. A 2009 study reported in the Annals of the New York Academy of Science  looked at how the length of telomeres is related to human longevity. “Telomere length has now been linked to chronic stress exposure and depression, “said the report. “This raises the question of mechanism:How might cellular aging be modulated by psychological functioning?”

Initial answers are emerging from the Shamatha project at University of California, Davis.The observer (U.K.) reported on April 23, 2011: “One result in particular has potentially stunning implications: that by protecting caps called telomeres on the ends of our chromosomes, meditation might help to delay the process of aging.”

5.It can be better than sleep:

New Scientist reported in November 2005 on research by Bruce O’ Hara and collaborators at the University of Kentucky, who looked at how sleepiness affects mental alertness.Volunteers were asked to stare at a computer monitor and press a button immediately when they saw an image appear.

“Typically, people take 200 to 300 milliseconds to respond, but sleep- deprived people take much longer, and sometimes miss the stimulus altogether,” the article said.” Volunteers were tested before and after forty minutes of either sleep, meditation, reading, or light conversation, with all subjects trying all conditions. The forty minute nap was known to improve performance (after an hour or so to recover from grogginess). But what astonished the researchers was that meditation was the only intervention that immediately led to superior performance.”

6.It Boosts the immune system:

The magazine (July 27, 2003), reported that Dr. Jon Kabat- Zinn of the University of Massachusetts Medical school “gave a group of newly taught meditators and nonmeditators flu shots and measured the antibody levels in their blood. Researchers also measured their brain activity to see how much the meditators ‘ mental activity shifted from the right brain to the left. Not only did the meditators have more antibodies at both four weeks and eight weeks after the shots, but the people whose activity shifted the most had even more antibodies The better your meditation technique, Kabat – Zinn suggests, the healthier your immune system.”

—Compiled by staff writers

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Author: vedvyash

Writing is something that helped me discover the creativity and the expressionism that was hidden under the deep layers of my soul. And me!

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