Not being a doctor or a health science professional, I approach this subject the way most readers probably do – with both an active curiosity and a healthy dose of skepticism. As a daily meditator for almost 50 years, I personally have no doubts about the psychological or physical benefits of meditation; my skepticism applies to whether the data gathered from meditation research can be made useful to my readers as individuals. I am a Caucasian male, 73 years old, born in the South. All advertising and demographic research will indicate that I am likely a member of a certain political party, have an income range of such and such, watch certain news shows, and drive a particular kind of automobile. The end result of that research is meant to help someone decide what they can hope to sell me… and yet, I do not match any of these markers and probably will not buy the products I am targeted for. All this data applies to someone, but that ‘someone’ is not me.
In addressing you, my reader, as to what benefits you might reasonably expect from meditation, I think the best answer is, ‘The fewer expectations you have, the more the benefit will be.’ This is because your expectations will unconsciously limit the scope and effect of your meditation and likely result in less benefit to you than if you have no expectations at all. Meditation is, in and of itself, and act of deep self-healing. It knows what to do and will do it well, if you don’t try to micromanage it with your expectations. If science could give us a solid fact, something like Newton’s law of gravity, or ‘It has been proven that meditation makes all red-headed people smarter,’ I would gladly share that with you; however, no such fact exists. All the scientific data on meditation comes with a caveat like, ‘for some people,’ or ‘more research is needed.’ Like the demographic research mentioned above, I am sure more research on meditation will be useful to someone, but probably not to you or I.
Despite these misgivings, I have taken the bloggers oath to fulfill the title of my blog, so I will describe some of the health benefits you may enjoy if you regularly meditate. ‘Regularly’ doesn’t mean every day, or like clockwork, but it does mean the long-term maintenance of a predictable schedule. If you don’t regularly meditate, probably none of what you read below will be true for you. So, keep that in mind as you read on.
The Benefits You May Enjoy
1 – Stress relief. There is scientifically research that shows meditation is very good at stress reduction. Sadly, little research has been done on meditation’s role in reducing the incidence of stress. More has been done in the area of managing stress. There are apparently actually changes in the neurological pathways of people who regularly meditate and in the production of certain chemicals that help us handle stressful situations when they arise. Better stress management may positively affect our ability to handle personal anxieties, addictive behavior, and improve our emotional health. Many studies have been done in these areas and there does appear to be a positive effect for many people.
I would like to point out, quite unscientifically from personal experience, that the clarity meditation brings to the mind and the tranquility it brings to the heart (the ancients called this ‘wisdom’) greatly reduces our tendency to enter into or create stressful situations by making bad personal choices. This reduces the incidence of stressful situations in our lives.
2 – Mental Benefits. There is research showing that regular meditation lengthens the attention span. Younger people may not see this as a big deal, but as you get older it becomes a big deal. There is some evidence regular meditation may ‘for some people’ reduce or delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. Research cannot define all the ways meditation might benefit us mentally. There are simply too many ways and the mind too complex, but you can use your imagination and self-knowledge to see how it might help you. If your ambition is to become an air traffic controller at a large metropolitan airport, I think you should definitely give meditation a try.
3 – Physiological Benefits. If we are calmer, have less stress and anxiety, it is reasonable to expect our bodies will benefit. Lower blood pressure seems to be a common benefit of regular meditation; however, like the mind, the human body is an extremely complex organism and many factors influence it. It is difficult to ascribe effects to just one cause, especially so subtle a cause as meditation. Nevertheless, physical benefits like better sleep, pain control, even the reduction of pain, have been attributed to regular meditation. The ancients declared that buddhas and realized saints shared common physical traits, so physical changes have been associated with meditation long before science poked its nose into the matter, but you will have to be very patient and diligent in your practice if you hope to see physical changes in yourself.
4 – The Intangibles. If you enjoy any of the above benefits, it is quite possible the quality of your life will be greatly enhanced. You may be happier, better adjusted to friends and family and more popular at school. Meditation may make you a better lover, business man, or astronaut. There is research to support all of these possibilities, but it’s an open question whether this research will apply to you. More will depend on you than the research. There’s Cosmic Law that says, ‘the more you put into something, the more you get out of it,’ or to quote the Beatles, ‘The love you take, is the love you make.’ Science may never prove this law to be true, but it is the one ‘fact’ that seems to actually apply to all of us, even astronauts and scientists.
Try this Meditation for Super Health to start feeling the benefits today and do not forget to share with a friend.