INNUMERABLE BENEFITS OF SIMPLY CLOSING YOUR EYES
What would happen to your physical health if you meditated twenty minutes each day?
Stress is the number one killer in America. Ninety percent of disease is rooted in or complicated by stress. Which means that if you have learned to manage your stress effectively, regardless of what life throws at you, you are pretty much protected from virtually all disease.
Stress will damage "nearly every organ in your body— especially your brain."(Newberg and Waldman 36) Remember the little dendrites we spoke of— the little roots responsible for communication between your brain cells? Research shows that stress destroys dendrites. Moreover, stress has been shown to shorten the telomeres in your chromosomes, which are the protective caps to your DNA, causing you to age and exit faster— about six years of less life here on planet Earth per year of stress you have.
But stress not only harms your mental and physical health— it harms your relationships, your finances, your productivity, your energy levels, and it can make you prone to harmful addictions, such as food, drug, alcohol, and smoking addictions. Stress can make your skin break out, gain weight, rob you from sleep, and affect your self-esteem and self-confidence.
Meditation not only protects you from the harmful effects of stress— research has shown that it actually strengthens your immune system, making you resistant to infections and disease. For instance, in an early study led by brain and meditation research pioneers, Dr. Richard Davidson and Dr. Kabbat-Zinn, volunteers from a high-tech corporation were recruited to study the effects of meditation on their immune function. Half of the group was trained in mindfulness meditation for eight weeks, while the other half served as the control group. At the end of the eight weeks, both groups were administered the influenza vaccine and then blood samples were collected at later times. It was discovered that the meditators had a significant rise in antibody titers to the vaccine compared to the non-meditators.
And if keeping you physically healthy were not enough, meditation gives you the added bonus of a youthful brain. Dr. Newberg adds,"...research with memory patients suggests that meditation can help maintain a healthy structural balance that will slow the aging process." (Newberg and Waldman 15) Lynne McTaggart reports in The Intention Experiment, "Ordinarily, cortical thickness deteriorates as a result of aging. Regular meditation appears to reduce or reverse the process." (McTaggart 74)
So there it is— meditation releases you from body damaging stress, boosts your immune system to protect you from disease (a form of no-cost health insurance, don't you think?), and keeps your brain young!
- boosts the immune system
- lowers blood pressure
- increases vitality
- increases stamina
- has rejuvenating effects
- cardiovascular disease
- chronic pain management
- psychosomatic disorders: e.g. sporiasis, eczema, stomach ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome
- all stress-related illnesses
- headaches, high blood pressure, back pain, heart disease, cancer, AIDS, lung disease, hypertension, chronic pain, seizures, sleep disorders, panic attacks, stress-related digestive problems, skin problems, and even voice problems, have been referred to and benefited from mindfulness meditation.
What can meditation do for your soul and spirit?
The famous maxim Know Thyself is for good reason. Meditation is by its very nature, introspective and a journey towards inner-self exploration. This quality allows you to be with yourself, to get to know yourself, to be comfortable with yourself, to become best friends with yourself. It puts you at the center of your awareness. Seeking inwards enables you to meet with your true essence. It is truly a beautiful thing to be with yourself.
These moments of silence and deep introspection enable you to retract from the consensus of collective reality. It allows your innermost Being to come afloat and discover what reality truly is.
All the unanswered questions you've always had about the world are answered in this place, from a place very deep within you. Everything becomes so easy to understand. Everything makes sense. There is a teacher inside everyone.
This awareness from a deeper level of your Being is what increases consciousness. It causes your soul to grow and frees your spirit. The fears that are common to humanity leave you because you gain much insight and understanding.
As a result, you want more growth and you start seeking that which will nurture your soul and spirit. You want your relationships to be healthy, you want to be inspired, you want to help others, you love to be free. You have discovered your own highest innermost guidance system.
- consciousness (all-encompassing awareness)
- altruism (selfless action)
- intuition (inner-knowledge)
- inspiration (creative force)
- enrichment of personal life
- deeper understanding of the world
- emergence and awareness of your true purpose in life
- healthy relationship with yourself
- healthy relationships with other people
- healthy relationship with the planet and other species
- genuine desire for self-improvement and self-development, such as learning forgiveness
- genuine state of being (as opposed to doing)
- expression of spirit: being "in the flow" (in creative arts) or "in the zone" (in sports)
CAN LEAD TO:
- awareness and increase of synchronicities (unlikely coincidences) in personal life
- direct energetic awareness/extra-sensory perception, as chakras open and activate
- mystical experiences: awareness of unseen forces and dimensions
- superconsciousness/transcendence (state beyond matter)/cosmic consciousness
- acquisition of higher truths, such as the source and nature of reality
- highly advanced stages may lead to supernatural abilities
Newberg, Andrew and Mark Robert Waldman. How God Changes Your Brain: Breakthrough Findings from a Leading Neuroscientist. Ballentine Books, 2010.
Nataraja, Shanida. The Blissful Brain: Neuroscience and Proof of the Power of Meditation. Gaia Thinking, 2008
Davidson, Richard J. and Anne Harrington. Visions of Compassion: Western Scientists and Tibetan Buddhists Examine Human Nature. Oxford Press, 2002.
McTaggart, Lynne. The Intention Experiment: Using Your Thoughts to Change Your Life and The World. FreePress, 2008.
Susan L.Smalley and Diana Winston. Fully Present: The Science, Art, and Practice of Mindfulness. DaCapo Press, 2010.
Kabat-Zinn, Jon. Full Catastrophe Living: Using The Wisdom of Your Body To Face Stress, Pain, and Illness. Delta, 1990.
Roemer, Lizabeth and Susan M.Orsillo. Mindfulness- & Acceptance-Based Behavioral Therapies in Practice. The Guilford Press, 2009.
Mahesh Yogi, Maharishi. Science of Being and Art of Living: Transcendental Meditation. Plume, 2001.
Gunaratana, Bhante Henepola. Mindfulness In Plain English. Wisdom Publications, 2002.
Henslin, Earl. This Is Your Brain On Joy: How The New Science of Happiness Can Help You Feel Good and Be Happy. Thomas Nelson, 2008.
National Geographic. Stress: Portrait of A Killer, 2008. Documentary.
PBS. The Secret Life Of The Brain, 2002. Documentary.