Article by Dr Russell Razzaque
From heart attacks to cancer to aging to high blood pressure and mental health, meditation has a proven impact across a whole gamut of areas in the body. Here are just a few scientifically proven facts about meditation – verified by robust research:
* Meditation causes a 48% reduction in symptoms of depression. * People who meditate have 47% fewer heart attacks. * 75% of long-term insomniacs who have been trained in meditation can fall asleep within 20 minutes of going to bed. * People who meditate show an 8% to 15% decrease in the risk of stroke. * Sufferers of anxiety who meditate show a 60% improvement in anxiety levels after only 8 weeks of practice. * Meditation can slow aging. A study found that people who had been meditating for more than five years were physiologically 12 to 15 years younger than non-meditators. * The chance of getting cancer has been shown in studies to reduce by 55% in those who meditate regularly. * Regular meditators experience a 10-20 point drop in blood pressure compared to the general population.
So as we can see, the effects of meditation can’t be said that its effects are confined to only one region or one system. It is the ultimate self help program. Its scope of action is truly diverse.
Why is this?
Well, as a doctor I can see a universal pattern behind this that extends to all pathologies. Generally, illnesses build up under an invisible cloak. Whether it is heart attacks, high blood pressure or cancer, the initiation and progression of the illness is something that happens essentially outside our conscious realm. If you actually felt your blood vessels tensing – as they do in hypertension – or your arteries narrowing – as they do before heart attacks – or your cells proliferating abnormally – as they do in cancer – then no illness would ever take it’s grip. We’d be able to stop it before it got out of control. The problem is that none of these things can be seen by us or generally felt in any way. They creep up inside us until, often, we reach a point of catastrophe.
Where modern medicine provides treatment, it is by trying to reverse the process once it has reached a point of detection, which is often quite an advanced stage. An earlier solution, however, would be to increase our awareness of our body generally throughout our lives. By doing this, we could prevent – or at least inhibit – the build up of the disease process. It is like letting a little sunlight in, the sunlight of awareness.
When you meditate you’re not exactly aware of arteries narrowing or cells abnormally proliferating, but you become more aware of the feelings, motions and pains in your body generally and in a non-specific sense. This very experience of awareness keeps the diversity of systems within the body out in the open, shielding them from the darkness that enables illness to, all too commonly, lurk and even flourish.
This does not mean, of course, that we will ever arrive at a place where we avoid becoming ill at all. Illness is an unavoidable part of life. What it does mean, however, is that meditation enables us to stay in the light for longer.
About the Author
Dr Russell Razzaque earned his medical degree from the University of London and is a member of the UK Royal College of Psychiatrists.. If you liked this article you may benefit from his online self help program, Sileotherapy; a form of spiritual self help.
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