Meditation is one of the five principles of yoga. It is an important tool to achieve mental clarity and health. Though meditation is usually recognized as a largely spiritual practice, it also has many health benefits. The yoga and meditation techniques are being implemented in the management of life-threatening diseases; in the transformation of molecular and genetic structure; in the reversal of mental illnesses, in accelerated learning programs, in perceptions and communications beyond the physical, in solving problems and atomic and nuclear physics; in gaining better ecological understanding; in management of lifestyle and future world problems.
Physiological Benefits of Meditation
- Deep rest-as measured by decreased metabolic rate, lower heart rate, and reduced workload of the heart.
- Lowered levels of cortisol and lactate-two chemicals associated with stress.
- Reduction of free radicals- unstable oxygen molecules that can cause tissue damage.
- Improved blood pressure.
- Higher skin resistance. Low skin resistance is correlated with higher stress and anxiety levels.
- Drop-in cholesterol levels. High cholesterol is associated with cardiovascular disease.
- Improved flow of air to the lungs resulting in easier breathing. This has been very helpful to asthma patients.
- Slows down the aging process.
- Decreases muscle tension (any pain due to tension) and headaches.
- Builds self-confidence.
- It increases serotonin production which influences mood and behavior. Low levels of serotonin are associated with depression, obesity, insomnia, and headaches.
- Helps with chronic diseases like allergies, arthritis, etc.
- Reduces Pre-menstrual Syndrome.
- Helps in post-operative healing.
- Enhances the immune system. Research has revealed that meditation increases the activity of ‘natural-killer cells’, which kill bacteria and cancer cells.
- Also reduces the activity of viruses and emotional distress.
Psychological Benefits of Meditation
- Increased brain wave coherence.
- Greater creativity.
- Decreased anxiety.
- Decreased depression.
- Decreased irritability and moodiness.
- Improved learning ability and memory.
- Increased self-actualization.
- Increased feelings of vitality and rejuvenation.
- Increased happiness.
- Increased emotional stability.
Spiritual Benefits of Meditation
The longer an individual practices meditation, the greater the likelihood that his or her goals and efforts will shift toward personal and spiritual growth. Many individuals who initially learn meditation for its self-regulatory aspects find that as their practice deepens they are drawn more and more into the realm of the “spiritual.”