Research shows meditation is Good for Your Health!
A five year study of medical insurance utilization compared 2,000 regular meditators with 600,000 members of the same insurance carrier. The meditation group had 53.3% fewer inpatient admissions per 1000 and 44.4% fewer outpatient visits per 1000. When comparing admissions per 1000, the meditators were lower than the norm for 17 major medical treatment categories including: 55.4% lower for benign and malignant tumors, 87.3% lower for heart disease, 30.6% lower for all infectious diseases, 30.6% lower for all mental disorders, and 87.3% lower for diseases of the nervous system. However, the meditator's admission rates for childbirth were similar to the norm! (Orne-Johnson, Journal of Psychosomatic Medicine, 1987).
What do these meditators know that others don't? They know that the mind is capable of altering body chemistry. That feelings of depression and fatigue lower the immune system's effectiveness. That anger, guilt, and stress stimulate an adrenal system release of cortisol and aldosterone which damage body cells in high or constant quantities.
- And that meditation:
- Improves mood state, adrenocortical activity and kidney function (Walton, Pugh, Gelderloos, Journal of Alternative and complimentary medicine, 1995)
- Decreases essential hypertension (WMJ, 1998)
- Reduces serum cholesterol levels, independent of dietary measures (Journal of Human Stress, 1979)
- Increases hardiness measures in people with HIV-AIDS (Journal of Associate Nurses AIDS Care, 1993)
- Decreases symptoms of fibromyalagia (General Hospital Psychiatry, 1993
- Increases melatonin levels in the body, where decreased levels have been associated with development of breast and prostate cancer (Journal of Medical Hypotheses, 1995)
- Reduces coronary prone behaviors such as impatience and hostility (Journal of Perceptual Motor Skills, 1984)
- Reduces or eliminates chronic pain including low back, neck, and shoulder pain, headache, facial pain, angina pectoris, noncoronary chest pain and GI pain (Journal of General Hospital Psychiatry, 1980)
- Reduces symptoms of anxiety and panic in patients with anxiety disorders (American Journal of Psychiatry, 1992)
- Is an effective preventive tool in the area of alcohol abuse (American Journal of Psychiatry, 1975)
If meditation is so good for health, why are not more people doing it?
Meditation has been associated exclusively with Eastern religions or cults. This is simply not true. While prayer is a process of talking to God, meditation is listening. "Be still and know…” describes meditation. It is compatible with and used in all world religions, including Christianity. Meditation is solely religious. Again, not true. While meditation can be a part of prayer, as noted above, its use for stress reduction and associated healing is well documented in the literature. Meditation is a skill or technique which involves the development of inward aspects of consciousness. An individual meditates in order to enhance his or her abilities to attain life goals, on mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual levels.
Don't Have Time!
Meditating for 5 minutes a day is good and will show results, 20 minutes is better and 40 minutes is great! What else can you do in that brief amount of time that has so many physical and emotional benefits?
Don't Know How!
There are really 3 broad categories of meditation. In Concentration Meditation, attention is focused upon a single phrase (mantra or prayer), object (candle, mala, or rosary), or sound (OM, AMEN) to the exclusion of all other stimuli. Contemplation Meditation focuses on imagery, visualizations, affirmations, while Mindfulness Meditation uses the breath to experience direct awareness of all thoughts, feelings, sensations. These forms and others may be easily learned from books, tapes, and personal instruction.
All meditation produces changes in brainwave states, taking the participant from high Beta (13-30 cps) associated with a racing mind and stress to Alpha (8-13 cps) associated with relaxation and inward awareness and even to Theta (4-8 cps) associated with creativity and inspiration.
Meditation gives us permission to get in touch with the natural healing power within. It is a non-doing in which everything is done. Meditation sharpens our focus and gives us power over our own thoughts, taking us from reactive states of mind to proactive states of being and doing. What are you waiting for? Meditate today!
Dr. Jill Henry, Ed.D., (North Carolina) has over thirty years of experience in traditional medicine as a physical therapist, including ten years teaching at the Medical College of Georgia. Active for sixteen years in complementary and alternative medicine, she is an associate polarity practitioner, practices CranioSacral Therapy, is a meditation instructor, and workshop facilitator. Jill may be contacted at her website: http://www.mountainvalleycenter.com