Meditation is gaining mainstream acceptance as a beneficial
preventive health program. Once thought of as only for eastern
monks practicing in remote caves in the mountains of India,
today everyone from busy executives to students are enjoying
the practical results of daily meditation.
Meditation is one of the better-studied alternative therapies,
and it has been shown to provide a wide range of health benefits.
More and more doctors and hospitals are recommending meditation
as an effective stress buster and useful support for patients
of heart disease and many other chronic and acute conditions.
Meditation can help you "Take a 20 Minute Vacation"
without physically going anywhere. Plus it is proven
to provide a range of excellent health benefits such
as preventing premature aging and lowering cholesterol ...
and with today's "meditation technologies"
that you will read about below, meditating is much easier
than you may think!
The effectiveness of meditation comes from the fact that
one can achieve a state of deep relaxation in just a few minutes.
When we settle down into a state of deep relaxation, the body
and mind are refreshed and revitalized. This gives us many
good effects that are both immediate and long lasting.
Health Benefits of Regular Meditation Include:
- Lower Blood Pressure
- Better Sleep
- Less Anxiety
- Faster healing
- Decreased substance abuse
- Lower Cholesterol
- Stronger Immune Response
Meditation, Stress and a Healthy Heart
The results above have been demonstrated in many rigorous
scientific studies, a few of which are mentioned below. Researchers
have found that meditation lowers levels of stress hormones.
In fact, by decreasing the level of one such hormone --
epinephrine -- meditation has been shown to reduce the amount
of cholesterol in the blood and therefore help arteries to
remain clear. Reduction of stress hormones also supports the
healthy functioning of the immune system.
This reduction in stress hormones may be explained by the
relaxed state that comes about through meditation. Electroencephalograph
(EEG) studies of the brain in those who are meditating show
that meditation boosts the intensity of alpha waves --
associated with quiet, receptive states -- to levels not seen
even during sleep. This relaxed state combats anxiety, and
this is confirmed by research which has found lowered levels
of lactic acid in the blood. (High levels of lactic acid are
associated with anxiety.) Another effect of meditation is
that breathing slows, so the body uses less oxygen.
Meditation has been found to be particularly helpful for
the heart. Meditators have been found to have improved blood
circulation, as well as a lowered heart rate, which places
less demands on the heart.
A 1998 study published in Psychosomatic Medicine showed that
people who practiced transcendental meditation (TM) had lower
levels of lipid peroxide than those who didn't. Lipid peroxide
can contribute to atherosclerosis and other chronic diseases
associated with aging. A 1999 study published in the same
journal showed that people who practiced TM had lower blood
pressure immediately after meditating than did the control
Help for Fibromyalgia, Psoriasis, IBS, and More
A 1998 study in Alternative Therapies showed that
meditation helped decrease symptoms such as pain and sleeplessness
in patients with fibromyalgia, a disease characterized by
muscle pain, fatigue, and mild-to-moderate depression.
In a 1998 study at the University of Massachusetts Medical
Center, psoriasis patients who listened to a mindfulness meditation
audiotape during their ultraviolet light therapy experienced
faster healing than those who had the light therapy alone.
Meditation has also been associated with a longer life span,
better quality of life, fewer hospitalizations, and reduced
health-care costs. It has also shown promise as an adjunct
therapy in relieving mild depression, insomnia, tension headache,
irritable bowel syndrome, and premenstrual syndrome (PMS),
as well as in controlling substance abuse.
Meditation is Easier Than You Think!
With such overwhelming evidence of the benefits of meditation,
why isn't everyone meditating?
Often the obstacle is that meditation is thought to be difficult
and requiring years of practice to become "good at it."
The reality is that there are many different styles of meditation
and many are very easy to learn and bring benefits from the
start. Some people even find ways to meditate on their own,
setting aside a quiet time to sit and "simply be."
Usually, however, some instruction is needed.
There are books, CDs, classes, and websites which offer instruction
in meditation. There are many different styles of meditation,
and finding the right meditation for you may take some trial
and error. It's important to find a method which feels
natural, easy and relaxing.
An excellent way to experience the benefits of meditation
without having to learn a specific practice is to use a guided
meditation CD. We designed our Pure Relaxation CD [B1]
to offer an easy way for anyone to experience the "meditative
state" in which the mind "lets go" and the
body relaxes. Tested and recommended
by members of the National Health & Wellness Club,
this highly acclaimed CD has given many people an easy way
The essence of successful meditation is relaxation.
The health benefits can easily be seen to result from a state
of relaxation in mind and body. Anything that you can do which
relaxes you deeply can be thought of as meditation. Whatever
way you choose, we encourage you to start and wish you peace
of mind and the very best of health!
columnist Mary Maddux has worked in the healing arts in both
conventional and alternative settings. With an MS in clinical
social work, she has worked as a counselor, helping people
cope with the stresses of life. While working as a hospice
counselor, she was introduced to various alternative healing
arts. She eventually developed a healing arts practice and
has taught many workshops.
She and husband Richard are producers of two renowned CDs,
Easy: Guided Meditation for Deep Rest
, and Pure
Relaxation: Guided Meditations for Body, Mind & Spirit
. Mary is the "voice" of these CDs while Richard,
an accomplished composer of music for meditation with 20 years
experience, created the music.
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I was delighted to find the Pure Relaxation CD -- it's
a winner! The voice and music, combined with the gentle
simplicity of the meditations, is extremely effective.
Thank you for coming up with a perfect format that can
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-- Sarah Mozelle, MA, CHT Lifestyle Management Coach
& Health Educator, Dominican Hospital, Santa Cruz,
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