What are the benefits of meditation?
Meditation is supposed to be good for you. That’s true?
Let’s look at some research. Over the past 40 years, dozens of universities in the United States, Europe and India have conducted hundreds of studies on the effects of meditation on human physiology and behavior. The results point to meditation as producing benefits at many levels of life simultaneously – body, emotions, mental functioning and relationships.
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• Greater regularity of Brain Function
. Increased ability to concentrate
• Increased Creativity
. Deeper Level of Relaxation
• Improved Perception and Memory
• Intelligence Development
• Change in Natural Breath
• Decrease in Stress Hormone
• Decrease in Blood Pressure
• Reversal of the Aging Process
• Reduce need for medical care
• Reduce cholesterol levels
• Increase Self-Realization
• Increase Self-Concept Strength
. Decreased consumption of Cigarettes, Alcohol and Drugs
• Increased Productivity
• Improved Work Relations
• Increased relaxation and reduced stress
• Better Health and more positive health habits
(* The above list is selected from the promotion of the publicity section on top of tm.org, an official website of the Transcendental Meditation organization. It is a summary of research conducted at various universities from 1970 to the present).
What’s the catch? The problem is that you have to spend time in meditation every day to get these benefits. And usually for that to happen, you have to want to meditate, and that means that the approach chosen has to suit your individual character so well that you enjoy meditating.
Over the years, when interviewing people who stop meditating, it seems they stopped because they were doing the wrong technique, not because they were undisciplined.
There are thousands of different ways and styles of meditation. This is because people are really different from each other. Unfortunately, this means that if you try this just randomly and that meditation may not find an approach that works for you. The success rate is so low that no one even seems to be studying it – but it can be as low as 5% or even 3% of the people who start it. Instinctive Meditation was created in part by studying how and why people fail in meditation. We interviewed hundreds of meditation practitioners of all kinds in the 1970s to find out what went wrong, and developed a teaching system that allows people to have a good chance of getting it right the first time.
How Meditation May Be This Is Beneficial?
It is interesting to know, how could something as simple as meditation be so beneficial? The answer lies in physiology. Meditation is something that the body knows how to do, and does willingly set the conditions and allow it. The body knows how to enter into a state of deep healing. All you need to do is pay attention in certain aspects, and tolerate the intensity of what you feel as you will stop stress.
The word meditation is just a name we give to the situation in which we give the nervous system, the brain and the senses the opportunity to tune up. One more opportunity – meditation is to give total permission to the nervous system to do its healing thing. And since this is innate, the body and brain are very good at it. People are naturally good at meditation.
And when they do not meditate, it is as if we are “private meditation”. In other words, we are not adding something alien to our life – we are just giving ourselves something we need. What is strange is not meditating. In other words, it is not natural to spend private life for an hour each day of rest more deeply than sleeping, and let go of all the efforts that keep you sore so tight.
If this is true, then this is part of the reason why meditation has such powerful effects – because it is a way of giving the body powerful / dynamic healing mind we already have within us as part of our genetic inheritance. Or, you could say, God put him there.
Meditation is one of the few things in the area of self help that you can do that produces measurable changes. In other words, you can take a few hours of meditation training, and then go into a medical laboratory and meditate, and they can measure the changes in your breathing, your blood chemistry, your brainwaves, and your response to stress. And if you were sitting in a medical lab, all wires up, and they saw you go into a deeper resting state of sleep in five minutes, a studious researcher would look at the instruments and say, “Oh, you just started I can see you in the meters “.
One of the main reasons for meditation is so beneficial is that it is instinctive and natural. When you meditate, you are having access to your own built-in body in the ability to heal and adjust for action.
The following list of research is interesting, and most of the results will probably be proven to some extent in the future, but this is now mixture of the preliminary results and the solid data.
Increased Order of Brain Function
increases EEG coherence between and within the cerebral hemispheres during meditation. EEG coherence is the quantitative index of the degree of long-range spatial ordering of brain waves. In a new meditator, EEG coherence increased during the meditation period. In a person who is meditating for two years, spreading of coherence occurred even before meditation began, spreading consistency with the high and low frequencies over the middle of the meditation period, and continuing the high consistency even for the eyes, opened period after meditation.
Wider understanding and better focusing ability
Field independence has been associated with a greater ability to assimilate and structure the experience, greater organization and clarity of the cognitive mind, improved memory, greater creative expression, and a stable framework of internal reference. The results show that the practice of meditation techniques develop greater field independence. This improvement in meditators is notable because it was thought that these basic perceptual skills do not improve beyond adulthood.
This study used the Torrance Creative Thinking Test to measure figurative and verbal creativity in a control group and in a group that subsequently learned meditation. In the post-test five months later, the meditation group scored significantly more figurative originality and flexibility and in verbal fluency.
Deeper level of relaxation
The comprehensive meta-analysis statistic was performed comparing the results of 31 physiological studies on meditation and resting with eyes closed. (A meta-analysis is the preferred scientific procedure to draw definitive conclusions from large masses of research). The study evaluated three key indicators of relaxation and found that meditation provides a much deeper state of relaxation that does not rest simple closed eyes. Research has shown that the rate of respiration and lactate decrease, increased basal skin resistance, during meditation significantly more than during rest with closed eyes. Interestingly, just before the meditation sessions, meditation subjects had lower levels of respiration rate, lactate, spontaneous skin conductance, heart rate than controls. This deeper level of relaxation before beginning the practice suggests that reducing physiological stress through meditation is cumulative.
Improving Perception and Memory
University students instructed in meditation exhibited significant improvements in performance over a two-week period in a perceptual and short-term memory test involving the identification of familiar letter sequences presented quickly. They were compared to individuals distributed in a rest routine twice a day with their eyes closed, and with subjects that did change the in their daily routine.
College students who regularly practiced meditation increased significantly in intelligence over a two-year period compared to controls. The finding corroborates the results of two other studies showing an increase in IQ in meditation students.
Natural Change in Breath
Individuals were measured by changes in respiration rate during meditation practice. Respiratory rate dropped from 14 breaths per minute to approximately 11 breaths per minute, which indicates meditation produces a state of rest and relaxation. The change in breathing rate is natural, effortless, and comfortable.
Decreased Stress Hormone
Plasma cortisol is a stress hormone. The study shows that plasma cortisol during meditation, which did not change significantly in subjects controlled during normal relaxation.
Low Blood Pressure
In a clinical experiment with elderly African Americans (average age 66) living in a downtown community, meditation was compared to the method most commonly used to produce physiological relaxation. Individuals who had moderately elevated blood pressure levels were randomly assigned to meditation, Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR) care, or customary. During a three-month interval, systolic and diastolic blood pressure fell from 10.6 and 5.9 mm Hg, respectively, in the meditation group, and 4.0 and 2.1 mm Hg in the PMR group, with practically none change in the usual care group. A second randomized study of elderly people conducted at Harvard found changes in blood pressure similar to that produced by meditation for three months (11 mm Hg for systolic blood pressure).
Reversal of the aging process
biological age measures the age of a person is physiologically. As a group, long-term meditators who had been practicing meditation for more than five years were physiologically 12 years younger than their chronological age, as measured by blood pressure reduction, and better version near point and auditory discrimination. Short-term meditators were physiologically five years younger than their chronological age. The controlled study for the effects of diet and exercise.
Reducing the need for medical care
A study of health insurance statistics on more than 2,000 people practicing meditation over a five-year period found that meditators consistently had less than half of the hospitalization of other comparable age groups, sex, profession, and terms insurance. The difference between meditation and meditation groups did not increase in older age groups. In addition, meditators had less disease incidence in seventeen categories of medical treatment, including hospitalization 87% lower for heart disease and 55% less for cancer. The meditators consistently had visits to the doctor more than 50% less than other groups.
A longitudinal study showed that cholesterol levels decreased significantly through meditation in hyper cholesteolemic patients, compared to combined controls, over a period of eleven months.
Self-realization refers to perceiving more of one’s inner potential expressed in all areas of life. A meta-statistical analysis of 42 independent studies indicated the effect of meditation on enhancing self-realization is steeper than that of other forms of relaxation. This statistical analysis controlled the duration of treatment and the quality of the research project.
Increases self-concept resistance
One month after the beginning of meditation, the subjects had a better self-concept compared to before learning to meditate. Meditation participants developed a more strongly defined self-concept and also came to realize their “true self” as much closer to their “ideal self.” No similar changes were observed for controls.
Cigarettes decreased, Alcohol and Drugs
A meta-statistical analysis of 198 independent treatment results found that meditation produced a significantly greater reduction in tobacco, alcohol, and illicit drug use than any substance abuse treatment (including counseling, pharmacological treatments, relaxation training, and Twelve Steps) or prevention programs (such as programs to control pressure and promote personal development). This meta-analysis controlled by the strength of the study design included both heavy and casual users. Whereas the effects of conventional programs typically decrease by three months, the effects of meditation on total abstinence from tobacco, alcohol and illicit drugs were 50% to 89% over a period of 18-22 months of study.
In this study subjects of meditation practice demonstrated significant improvements in work, compared to the members of a control group. Performance at work and greater job satisfaction, while desire to change jobs decreased. People at all levels of the organization have benefited from meditation practice.
Improving Relationships at Work
This study found significant improvements in relationships with supervisors and co-workers after an average of eleven months of practicing meditation compared to controls. And while meditators reported that they felt less anxiety about promotion (indicated by lowered upward orientation), their colleagues saw how to move forward quickly. People at all levels of the organization have benefited from meditation practice.
Increased relaxation and stress reduction
This three-month study of managers and employees receiving regularly practiced meditation at a Fortune 100 manufacturing company (Puritan-Bennett Corporation) and a small sales distribution company in Philadelphia demonstrated that meditation practitioners exhibited more relaxed physiological functioning, greater reduction of anxiety and reduced the tension in the work, when compared to the control group individuals with similar positions in the same companies.
Improved health and more positive health habits
In two companies that introduced meditation, managers and employees who regularly practice meditation improved significantly in overall physical health, mental well-being and vitality when compared to control subjects with similar jobs in that same companies. meditation practitioners also reported significant reductions in health problems such as headaches and back pain, improved sleep quality, and a significant reduction in the use of distilled beverages and cigarettes compared to staff in the control groups.
From personal experience, I can say that these types of benefits sometimes happen, and even often happens, when people meditate every day if they are doing the right thing to meditate their individuality.
This quality of meditation life transformation is not all that mysterious – imagine how your life would change if you spend 45 minutes a day in the greatest relaxation you have ever known, resting more deeply than sleep, giving your body, nervous system, and brain the opportunity to adjust for action.
So why do not more people meditate? Why only 10 million Americans meditate? On the one hand, there are thousands of different types of meditation, and many of them will irritate the nerves. You will only feel at home with certain people. Many of these techniques are like other types of music that you simply do not like, the flavors of food that you will never grow to love. You can not make someone meditation and you can not live someone’s life.
Keep in mind that meditation (the way I teach it) leads to a kind of serenity and greater ease than you already know. This is a natural experience and you have not received it, most likely. Thus, the pervasive benefits that are reported make sense. Often when a person starts meditating every day, 20 minutes in the morning before breakfast, 20 minutes the night before dinner, you can watch them change visibly over the next three months. People start to look more rested and relaxed, as if they just came back from vacation. They gain a kind of shine on them as if they are in love. I have seen this over and over again in the past 36 years teaching meditation – it is what keeps me interested in meditation.
The benefits of daily meditation practice are sometimes dramatic, when people find a technique that can suit their individual nature. This is a great get away, however. There really has to be a good match between the practice of meditation – and there are thousands of techniques and variations – and your unique needs and individual preferences. Otherwise, you will not want to meditate, you will not feel comfortable doing the technique, and you will not prosper.
Can meditation be harmful?
Let’s use an analogy. When a shoe does not fit, it can make the toes sore, until the toe nails fall. If you get blisters, they can get infected. If you force yourself to wear the shoe anyway, despite the pain, you can eventually “break it in”, but more likely it will just break your foot. With shoes, they can be very large, making you stumble and fall, or very small, or even damage your crippling foot.
When a meditation technique does not fit you, the main damage is usually in your relationship with yourself. You damage your ability to pay attention to your inner life. First of all, you will not want to do a meditation that does not suit you – which is fine. But usually people blame themselves when they “fail” in meditation. And if you do it yourself anyway, you’re probably going to do some kind of harm yourself. It is not really “meditation” that is hurting you, is that you bought the idea that if you apply a natural technique on yourself, it will be “good for you.”
Let’s use another analogy. Most meditation techniques have a quality “medicines” for them. Medicine is a thing, often an herb or plant, which has toxic qualities. If you take the right medicine in the right dose over a certain time, and if you have a certain disease, the medicine can kill the disease kills more than you.
Almost all meditation techniques have been developed for monks, men who have lived in monasteries or ashrams or monasteries for thousands of years. Monks need to kill their sexuality, their desire to live, their attachments to anything but their robes and their vows, and kill whatever creative impulses they may have. Monks have to kill not only their procreative impulses, but their creative imputes, thus, any inclination to improve the way things are done in the monastery.
Some people – perhaps one in twenty – can only meditate, and do not need instruction. Others need a little training. Whenever you begin meditation, or start over, you begin a new beginning.