Meditation for a Healthier Us

The Benefits of Meditation - Part Two October 9, 2002

We have now discovered that not only do we all have the ability to meditate, but also, we have learned the basics of a meditative practice; however, the question of why we should meditate remains. The answer is that regular meditation has amazing effects on our stress levels, our health, our access to our intelligence, and even influences our world.

We realize that when we meditate, we are consciously relaxing the mind and body. It is obvious that the sense of ease which meditation produces will reduce our stress levels. “Meditation:dissolves stress and so is highly recommended,” says Dr. William Weir (tmscotland). He not only recommends meditation to others, but he has also practiced meditation for many years (Ibid.). Dr. Benson says of the subject, “meditative techniques:strip away destructive inner stresses” (24). Stephen Truch, author of The TM Technique and the Art of Learning, has this to add, “The deep rest [of meditation]: allows the release of deep-rooted stress in the nervous system” (190). It appears that anyone who has studied and/or practiced meditation readily agrees that it is an effective way to reduce stress; however, this is merely the tip of the iceberg. With the reduction of stress, we also elicit a higher degree of health.

It is Deepak Chopra’s opinion that health originates from the interaction of mind and body (83,84). He is a medical doctor, and author of the book Creating Health. He states that the events in our minds (thoughts, feelings, etc.) have a direct influence on our bodies, and thus, our health (97,98). In the act of quieting our minds through meditation, we remove negative thoughts and emotions. This causes our bodies not to produce the activities that would normally accompany negativity: clenched and tensed muscles, increased acid production in the stomach, and adrenaline in the blood steam, to name a few side effects (Ibid. 97). Research has concluded that meditation does reduce high blood pressure (Benson and Proctor 34) and this alone will alleviate the onset of many diseases related to the heart and circulatory system. There have even been studies which show that meditation lowers the levels of cholesterol in the blood (Chopra 196); most of us are aware that high cholesterol results in an assortment of ailments, and can even be lethal. Overall, it has been illustrated in many studies, conducted by many different researchers, that engaging in regular meditation has a positive impact on our health. If we become regular mediators, then not only do we require significantly less medical care (tmscotland), but we also pay less for health insurance (Ibid. & Chopra 196)!

We are now aware of the role which meditation plays in the reduction of our stress, and the increase of our health; however, there are still further benefits from this simple practice of regular meditation.

With the clear mind, free of stress, which our regular meditation has produced, we will find that we gain access to a larger portion of our available intelligence. Truch writes that research has indicated meditation “improves learning attitudes, IQ scores, grades and creativity and enhances logical thinking, learning ability and memory” (20). This relates back to the alleviation of stress. It is known that stress can be a debilitating factor when learning or performing complex tasks. Stress, or anxiety, leads to nervous motions (twitching, fidgeting, etc.) and thus, contribute to the unnecessary loss of energy and senseless, distracting activity (Ibid. 50). Wasted energy and unrequired activity will obviously hinder the ability to successfully absorb and retain information, and also inhibit us from recalling what was taken in. We have already seen how meditation reduces stress, and so, it will eliminate these destructive aspects, which stop us from exploiting our full learning potential and also limit our performance. Meditation results in the “Optimizing [of] Brain Functioning” (tmscotland). The increase in cognitive aptitude is due to the fact that meditation promotes a “relaxed state of awareness” (Ibid.) and unity of operation between the two hemispheres of our brains (Ibid.). To put that simply, meditation clears our mind and promotes our brain’s natural ability to think.

We should be aware of the fact that meditation begins to have a positive impact on our lives from the very first meditation (Chopra 196). “The benefits start to accumulate from day one” (tmscotland). As well, with regular practice, we are able to lapse into the meditative state quickly (Chopra 196), and become able to meditate, without distraction, in public places. Jill Greenacre, an actor and practitioner of meditation, says, “Buses are excellent because you close your eyes and people think you are asleep” (tmscotland). There is also evidence which shows that the results of regular meditation, that is, the feelings of ease and clear mindedness, will continue throughout our daily activities (Chopra 196).

The benefits of meditation to the individual are quite clear, but perhaps the most astounding effect is that which the mediator has on his, or her, environment. Studies have shown that small amounts of people who practice meditation have a great effect on the reduction of crime, sickness and accidents in their community (tmscotland & Chopra 217). Indeed this is quite bizarre, and somewhat unbelievable; however, to understand how this can possibly occur, we must turn to, of all things, the science of physics.

In physical theory, there is an effect known as Bell’s Theorem. In short, J.S. Bell illustrated with the aid of a complex mathematical formula, that subatomic particles and waves–the material/energy of reality’s construction–are all intimately connected in a whole (Zukav 272). Essentially, this means that the separate parts of the universe–individual people, for example–are in fact always influencing one another, regardless of immediate contact (Ibid.). This is the “oneness” or “wholeness” which many experienced mediators (e.g. Buddhists) speak of. Dr. Chopra illustrates this idea in regards to an Indian tradition known as Ayurveda. He summarizes:”(a) Nature is intelligent, (b) man is part of nature, and therefore (c) the same intelligence permeates both” (222). Once again, it is best that we avoid exploration into the mystical, and the metaphysical. It is sufficient to say that there are a variety of authorities, scientific and otherwise, which agree that things are more immediately connected than they appear (Benson and Proctor 20).

Perhaps the easiest and less obscure way to conceive of the immediate positive benefits of meditation on our environment is this: if we are happy and relaxed, then we will tend to bring about this state in others; people who come into our presence will feel our ease, and they too, will become more at ease. Thus, when we are no longer in their immediate area, they will carry this relaxed state with them, and in turn, pass it on to those people with whom they come in contact. It is like if we told our two friends a secret, and then they told two friends, and then they told two friends, and so on. This concept relates directly to mathematics and science, and it is known as the “Butterfly Effect” (Fractals). This is the proven theory in which small changes in the initial conditions [1] of a system will greatly alter the system over time (Ibid.). In other words, the benefits of meditation tend to rub off on those around us. Of course, it would be much better for them if they would also meditate.

The challenge then, is this: we should all engage in meditation. We have been exposed to the benefits of meditation; they are both immediately personal and far-reaching with positive effects on society. We have also seen that all of us have the ability to meditate, and that really, it is very easy to accomplish. It costs no money, and for a mere forty minutes of our time each day, we ensure well being, health, intelligence, and a better quality of life for ourselves, and our world.

[1] For our purposes, we can conceive of the “initial conditions” as when another person, or people, come in contact with us, the mediators, and partake in our relaxed manner.

Works Cited:

Benson, Herbert, William Proctor. Beyond the Relaxation Response. Toronto: Fitzhenry
& Whiteside Limited, 1984.

Chopra, Deepak. Creating Health: How to Wake Up the Body’s Intelligence. Boston:
Houghton Mifflin, 1991.

Fractals: An Animated Discussion. Dir. Peitgen, H.-O., et al. W.H. Freeman and
Company, 1990.

Neufeldt, Victoria, ed. Webster’s New World Dictionary. New York: Simon and Schuster
Inc., 1990.

Rehmus, E.E. The Magicians Dictionary: An Apocalyptic Cyclopaedia of Advanced
Magic(k)al Arts and Alternate Meanings. Los Angeles: Feral House, 1990.

tmscotland. 21 November 1998.

Truch, Stephen. The TM Technique and the Art of Learning. Toronto: Lester and Orpen
Limited, 1977.

Zukav, Gary. The Dancing Wu Li Masters: An Overview of the New Physics. New York:
William Morrow and Company, Inc., 1979

b.e. hydomako is not sure whether his parents were human, and sometimes feels that the sun and the moon are his father and mother respectively (or vice-versa). He doesn’t have a belly button, and the operation to remove the alien implants is forthcoming. Sometimes he thinks that the world is a projection of some malfunctioning machine.