Meditation for Healing: What Science Says
Patanjali said 2000 years ago in the first chapter of his Yoga Sutras, “Yogas chittavritti nirodhah.” Yoga is the cessation of fluctuations of the mind. Yoga is meditation. While many of us focus on the important precursors of yamas, niyamas, asanas, and pranayama, the latter four stages of the Ashtanga Yoga system he described involve progressive stages of a quieting of the thought waves.
For more than 45 years now, scientists have been looking to see if something is really going on when we tame discursive thoughts, visualize, focus our attention on one point, concentrate on an abstraction, or empty the mind to make way for the inner light.
The results of their experiments are astounding. Meditation helps us to reduce the ravages of stress and makes us happier and less depressed. It decreases physical pain as well as emotional pain, and it mitigates anger.
Here’s a list of some of the healing effects of meditation as documented in hundreds of research trials over time:
Decreases the risk of a heart attack
Decreases the risk of having a stroke
Reduces atherosclerotic buildup in the carotid arteries supplying the brain
Improves functional capacity and quality of life for people with heart failure
Treats diabetes by improving blood glucose (reducing HgA1c)
Improves insulin resistance (a precursor to diabetes type 2)
Helps people stop smoking
Reduces alcohol abuse
Decreases binge eating
Lessens headache pain
Lessens chronic back pain
Lessens abdominal pain
Decreases pain medicine utilization
Reduces symptoms of fibromyalgia
Helps patients with rheumatoid arthritis
Facilitates faster healing of psoriasis
Reduces panic sensations
Improves mood and leads to positive states of mind
Lessens emotional distress
Lessens feelings of anger and worry
Prevents relapse into clinical depression
Improves Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
Improves overall quality of life
Reduces all cause mortality
These fabulous results have been seen in studies employing one of three commonly encountered meditation techniques – the Transcendental Meditation (TM) of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the Loving-Kindness Meditation/Compassion Meditation of Buddhism, or the completely secular Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program of Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn.
If you have not yet begun a daily meditation practice, please consider adopting this valuable tool as a part of your life. It will make you happier and healthier.
References: Send me a note through the contacts form if you would like me to email a list of scientific references for the healing effects of meditation.