Meditation’s Real Effects on Health

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September 20, 2003 | 22,789 views

By Dr. Joseph Mercola
     with Rachael Droege

Meditation is used to take a deliberate break from the stream of thoughts that are constantly flowing in and out of our minds. While some people use it to promote spiritual growth or find inner peace, others use it as a relaxation and stress-reduction tool. Simply focus on freeing your mind of all its conscious thoughts or focus on the sounds you are hearing now, your breathing, or your eyes moving over this page and you will get a taste of how meditation can be beneficial.

We are constantly stimulated in our daily lives--visually, mentally, emotionally and physically. Not surprisingly, taking a break from this stimulation can actually improve your health. Meditation provides a way to give your mind a rest and allows it to focus on one particular thing, without a barrage of outside distractions, or on nothing at all.

Numerous scientific studies have confirmed the health benefits of meditation. In one study published in the July/August 2003 edition of Psychosomatic Medicine, researchers found that people who did eight weeks of meditation training produced more antibodies to a flu vaccine. Although I don't recommend the flu vaccine, this study does indicate that meditation can boost the immune system. Participants in this study who meditated also showed more signs of increased activity in brain areas related to positive emotion than people who didn't meditate.

Other research has shown that meditation can be useful for a variety of ailments including:

People who have mastered meditation often say they have increased mental abilities and need to visit a doctor less often than before they began to meditate. Studies have even shown that meditation can reduce or reverse cardiovascular disease and improve the ability to cope with chronic illness.

So you may be wondering how you can fit regular meditation, along with the time it takes to initially master it, into your schedule, while also trying to fit in those other healthy lifestyle choices like exercise, more sleep and preparing your own food. Well, this is a question that I also initially struggled with.

I am sure that some readers of this newsletter are already outstanding meditators, but I suspect that most of you are similar to me and have a hard time remaining focused and not letting your mind wander. This is one of the key reasons why I have adopted the Insight program, which is an audio CD that introduces an unrivaled harmonically layered combination of frequencies and binaural beats to your brain, seamlessly inducing amazingly powerful states of deep relaxing meditation.

The Insight CD is actually set up so you can do a 20 minute quick session that gets you most all of the benefits. Most people, including me, can carve out 20 minutes. However, the CD is also set up so you can do a 40- or 60-minute session.

If you have never really focused on your emotional, mental or spiritual health before, the Insight CD is an outstanding way to do so because it is so effective, it doesn't have to take up a lot of your time, and it is so easy to use (just listen!). If you already practice some form of meditation, or you routinely pray like I do, you will find the CD provides a very powerful enhancement to these healthy habits.

By listening to the Insight CD you can literally train your brain to function at a high level of synchronization, opening up the way for a flood of positive effects. When left and right sides of your brain begin to work in concert with each other, electrical activity and energy patterns in your brain become more widespread throughout the brain instead of remaining confined to certain areas. Research has indicated this type of "whole brain synchronization" is present in the brain at times of intense creativity, clarity and inspiration.

From the moment you first listen to this audio technology, your brain will begin the process of reorganizing itself for higher thinking and enhanced levels of consciousness.

Of course, there are other methods to achieve these benefits if you have the time and patience needed to devote to learning them. Some people take lessons or use books or videos to learn the basic principles, but you can experiment with meditating on your own to find a method that fits with your lifestyle.

You can also set aside some time, 15 to 20 minutes as a bare minimum, to sit quietly, perhaps with some soothing music, breathe rhythmically, and focus on something such as your breathing, a flower, an image, a candle or even just being in the moment. Some people prefer to close their eyes to block out visual stimulation. If you find that your mind starts to wander, direct it back to your focus point and continue from there.

However you choose to do it, whether with the Insight audio CD as you relax before bed or on your own in a quiet, undisturbed place, make sure you make meditation a priority of your daily life. It's a simple step that can have lasting and profound influences on your physical health and emotional well-being.