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Health Benefits of Meditation

You’ve got to search for the hero inside yourself
Search for the secrets you hide
Search for the hero inside yourself
Until you find the key to your life

— Excerpt, “Search for the Hero”, by M People (album: Bizarre Fruit)

Once in the not-too-distant past, admitting that you meditate elicited the same response as saying you were the owner of a unicorn farm. Although research into meditation and its benefits began as early as the 1950’s, it would be a decade or more before it came to prominence in American culture.

Early empirical research on meditation yielded hundreds of scientific reports but because many of these initial studies were flawed, the research was met with skepticism or dismissed outright. “The lack of statistical evidence, control populations and rigor of many of the early studies … and the difficulty in controlling the degree of expertise of practitioners can in part account for the limited contributions made by neuroscience-oriented research on meditation.” — from Meditation and the Neuroscience of Consciousness: An Introduction by Antoine Lutz, John D. Dunne and Richard J. Davidson (2007)

In the 1960’s meditation enjoyed a grand resurgence, being adopted by four boisterous lads from Liverpool: The Beatles. At the invitation of a friend, George Harrison’s wife Patti attended a lecture from Maharishi Mahesh Yogi on Transcendental Meditation at Caxton Hall in London. Patti learned that Maharishi Mahesh would be giving a series of talks at a neighboring hotel and persuaded George to attend with her.

Both John Lennon and George Harrison had attempted to tap into their higher consciousness through the use of potent hallucinogenic drugs (LSD). Learning this, Maharishi Mahesh offered to teach them his transcendental meditation techniques, which he promised would open the door to this awareness without the use of drugs. During their time of instruction with the Maharishi, The Beatles experienced a wave of creativity that would eclipse everything they had written to date, producing the critically acclaimed “The White Album“, a two-disc collection of 30 songs, more than twice the number on any previous Beatles album.
The Beatles with their wives and girlfriends with Maharishi Mahesh, 1967

Fast forward beyond those early days of wonder and experimentation to the present day, and meditation is again receiving serious attention. Awareness of the benefits of meditation has grown and the practice has been embraced by wellness-minded people in all walks of life. The medical establishment has slowly begun to open its doors to meditation as research as well, conducting numerous studies that confirm what yogis and those who meditate regularly already know: Regular meditation brings significant benefits to the body as well as the mind.

Here are just a few ways a regular meditation practice can be of benefit in your daily life:

Boosts Your Immunity

A study conducted at Ohio State University found that progressive muscular relaxation, practiced daily, reduced the risk of breast cancer recurrence. A second study found that a month of relaxation exercises boosted natural “killer” (NK) cells in elderly participants, giving them greater resistance to tumors and viruses.

Source: “Modulation of Cellular Immunity in Medical Students“, Janice K. Kiecolt-Glaser, Ronald Glaser, pub. December 8, 1984

Lowers Blood Pressure

An American Medical Association (AMA) study reported finding that lower blood pressure through the practice of Transcendental Meditation is associated with substantially reduced rates of death, heart attack and stroke, concluding that “alternative treatments that include Transcendental Meditation techniques are recommended for consideration in treatment plans for all individuals with blood pressure greater than 120/80 mm Hg.”

Source: Archives of Internal Medicine, “Effects of a Randomized Controlled Trial of Transcendental Meditation on Components of the Metabolic Syndrome in Subjects with Coronary Heart Disease” (June 12, 2006)

Increases Serotonin Levels

Raising serotonin levels in the body helps speed healing. A happy person is not a stressed person, and stress inhibits healing. Depleted serotonin levels are also linked to sleep apnea, migraines, narcolepsy and other ailments. “The highly significant increase of 5-HIAA (5-hydroxyindole-3-acetic acid) in Transcendental Meditation techniques suggest systemic serotonin as “rest and fulfillment hormone” of deactivation- relaxation”. — M. Buttjatti, P. Biederer

Source: “Serotonin, noradrenalin, dopamine metabolites in transcendental meditation technique“, M. Bujatti, P. Biederer, Journal of Neural Transmission, Vol. 39, Issue 3

Promotes Emotional Balance

The goal of emotional balance is to free oneself of neurotic behaviors that result from the existence of a tortured, traumatized ego. This is difficult to fully achieve, but regular meditation has been proven to be extremely effective in curing neurosis and unhealthy emotional states. Your consciousness is cleansed; the result is emotional freedom, balance and clarity.

Source: “Mindful meditation and exercise have positive effects as adjunctive treatments for depressive disorders…” — Atezaz Saeed, M.D., Diana Antonacci, M.D., Richard Bloch, PhD, Brody School of Medicine, “Exercise, Yoga and Meditation for Depressive and Anxiety Disorders.” (2010)

Want to learn more about Meditation? Drop by Peace Love Yoga Palm Springs and join instructor Chuck Burks for a blissful weekday Meditation practice. This is a donation-based class. See our Class Schedule for days and times. See you soon!

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