Five Benefits of Daily Meditation – Physical Benefits
January 22, 2015
Joseph Campbell, perhaps the most renowned mythologist of the last century, once said, “What human beings desire most is the experience of being fully alive.” So what did he mean by that? I believe he meant that people want to feel fully alive in their outward directed experience (which is what we are sharing now together), and to feel fully alive in their inner directed experience (which we can only do alone).
If you wish to experience wisdom in your world, you must become the wisdom you want to see around you.
Daily meditation is an effortless way to become and grow your vision of a wiser world. The fact is, daily practice of meditation is good for you and good for everyone around you. It also helps you grow as a person as you share your expanded consciousness.
Physical Benefits of Meditation
Dr. Norman Rosenthal, M.D., a Harvard University research scientist, has published a long list of scientific articles on the benefits of meditation. Some meditation is better than none, but daily meditation shows the best results, according to Dr. Rosenthal and hundreds of other researchers. More studies.
Today, corporations, such as Promega, a biotech firm, acknowledge the importance of meditation and incorporate it in the benefits package for employees. Even insurance companies, like Aetna, give meditator discounts because people who meditate have fewer medical problems, traffic accidents, and this helps reduce health care costs and saves money for the insurance companies.
Research shows Transcendental Meditation (TM) does indeed improve our bodily functioning. When we meditate, the heart rate slows, the respiration slows and brain wave functioning becomes more coherent. Here are some studies showing the physical benefits of TM:
Asthma and Upper Respiratory Problems
A study of data from a major US health insurer showed that both hospital admission and outpatient consultation rates were over 50% lower for subjects practicing TM than norms or controls. (Psychosomatic Medicine, 1987). Other research has indicated fewer upper respiratory tract infections, improvements in chronic bronchitis, and more efficient breathing and respiratory control (Journal of Applied Physiology, 1984).
Blood Pressure and Cholesterol
Many studies have found that TM decreases blood pressure in hypertensive patients. A systematic review and meta-analysis of 107 published studies on stress reduction and high blood pressure found that TM practice significantly reduced both systolic and diastolic blood pressure and the reduction of both raised serum cholesterol and blood pressure, independent of changes in diet, medication, or weight (Journal of the Israel Medical Association 1978; Journal of Human Stress 1979).
A recent 5-year randomized controlled study published by a journal of the American Heart Association on patients with established coronary heart disease reported a 48% reduction in death, heart attack, and stroke in subjects in the TM group compared to controls.
A study of elderly people who practiced TM found lower blood levels of lipid peroxides compared to non-meditating peers, indicating reduced free radical activity and decreased risk of cardiovascular injury (Psychosomatic Medicine 1998).
Research has indicated that regular TM practice addresses the physical source of pain in the body with reduced frequency of pain symptoms in industrial workers (Jpn Jnl. Public Health, 1990), reduced headaches and backaches (Anxiety, Stress and Coping: Intern Jnl. 1993), and reduced use of medical care for pain-related conditions, including chest and abdominal pain (Am Jnl. Manag Care, 1997).
A number of research studies in various populations indicating that TM decreases insomnia and improves quality of sleep compared to controls (e.g. British Journal of Nursing, 1995).
The bottom line of physiological manifestations of these benefits is that our body functions better when we meditate regularly; by that I mean daily.
One of the aspects of this improved physical functioning is getting more in tune with our bodies and learning to understand what is happening within our own physiology. By settling down during meditation, we automatically perceive sensations within our bodies that we might miss when our attention is directed outward, as it is during much of the day. These sensations tell us what is going right or wrong inside of us and act as an indicator that we might want to do something about it if we don’t like what we perceive. By mediating daily we can monitor our bodies and adjust exercise, diet and rest, according to what our bodies tells us. Paying attention like this can save you money on medical bills, and may even save your life.
I’ve been meditating for over 40 years. Read more.
Next time: The Psychological and Emotional Health Benefits of Meditation