Age-old practices backed by modern science. No matter the tradition, as skeptical Americans, we require empirical evidence before we embrace any philosophy. When science catches up with the physiology behind the experienced effects of any medicine, there is reason to drop pre-conceived ideas and consider.
Such is the case with meditation.
Practiced for millennia in other cultures, only those with direct experience can tell you what it does for them–“yoga pants” have become a fashion fad but it’s no joke or passing fancy. They may not understand why (or care), they only know it works for them.
Hundreds of studies have been performed on the physiologic effects of deep relaxation, most showing significant positive results and none with side effects. If only our pharmaceuticals could say the same thing.
The brain changes with regular meditation. Mind-body therapies (e.g., meditation and yoga) reduce markers of inflammation and promote virus-inhibiting immune response in the body. These practices reduce symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, fibermyalgia, and chronic fatigue syndrome. They are proven to reduce the effects of stress, depression, insomnia, and neurological disorders.
“Mindfulness” is the term used for being present in the current moment, allowing thoughts to pass through your consciousness without dwelling on them or judging “good” or “bad”. It is the state of mind that allows to you release yourself of pressure and stress by clearing thoughts that plague your everyday routine. By becoming mindful, you allow yourself to feel without your brain getting in the way. It can be achieved through meditation, guided visualization, yoga, repetitive prayer and mantra.
Here are just some of the benefits of deep relaxation that put you in a state of mindfulness. They mean much more than just decreasing stress, although relaxation is the conduit through which all the other systems in the body react.
It is scientifically known that chronic inflammation in the body causes serious disease like cancer, arthritis, asthma, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, neurodegenerative disease, and psoriasis. Deep relaxation has been found to reduce stress-induced inflammation.