Benefits of Meditation
An obvious result of meditation is that it calms the mind. There are physiological changes in the body which lead to this visible, palpable change. The following paragraphs explain these changes and underline their effects.
Sharpening and Shutting Down the Brain
The front part of the brain, involved in focusing attention and concentration, is more active but activity in the parietal lobe, which gives us a sense of our orientation in space and time, is greatly reduced. The latter is because meditation practices train the learner not to be distracted by sensory and cognitive input. It also explains the reason why there is a very real sense of ‘oneness with the universe’ as the part of the brain which gives us our bearings is almost switched off. The perception that the self is endless is not an emotional fabrication or wishful thinking but a direct result of the meditative practice on a neurological event.
Brainwaves are the electric activity of the brain. There are several kinds. The Alpha wave is associated with calm and focused attention. The Beta is associated with highly focused concentration. The Theta is associated with reverie, creativity and imagery.
There is an increase in all three during deep meditation.
Resistance to Apathy
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter and neuropeptide. It affects mood and behavior in many ways. Low levels are associated with depression, obesity, insomnia, narcolepsy, sleep apnea, migraine headaches, premenstrual syndrome, and fibromyalgia.
Meditation increases the levels of serotonin production in the body.
Melatonin is derived from serotonin. It is also a neurotransmitter and neuropeptide. It regulates sleep, and may have anti-carcinogen and immune system enhancing effects. Meditation increases its production by increasing serotonin levels.
Meditative practices bring efficacy to breathing. The faster delivery of oxygen to the muscles, decreases the production of lactate which is produced in skeletal muscle tissue. Cortisol and lactate are associated with stress, lowered levels, decrease stress.
Meditation leads to self reflection. Ultimately this leads to the confrontation with and break down of ego defense mechanisms – the shields behind which we hide from ourselves. Coming to terms with one’s Self is a difficult and painful process. However, if done carefully, under therapeutic supervision, it will lead to healing and enhance self esteem and improve adjustment.
Combined with biofeedback, meditation reduces blood pressure for the hypertensive. It also results in --
- Deep rest -- as measured by decreased metabolic rate, lower heart rate, and reduced work load of the heart.
- Reduced nervous system activity
- Lowered stress
- Enhanced effectiveness of biofeedback
- Enhanced immune functioning in cancer, AIDS, and autoimmune patients
- With neuro-feedback, normalizes brain rhythms and chemistry in alcohol and drug addiction, as well as other addictive conditions.
- Reduction of free radicals- unstable oxygen molecules that can cause tissue damage – causes of aging and many diseases.
- Higher skin resistance.
- Drop in cholesterol levels and thereby reduced risk of heart disease
- Easier breathing with positive effect for asthma
There are obvious relationships to the management of diseases such as drug addiction, stress (including infertility), cancer and chronic illness, cardio-vascular disease, psoriasis, respiratory diseases, pre-menstrual tension, digestive disorders including irritable bowel syndrome and ulcers, insomnia, fibrolyalgia and hypertension. Meditation enhances life expectancy, the effects of pain management.