We begin documenting our "benefits" citing a book that provides an extensive review of meditation research titled The Physical and Psychological Effects of Meditation; A Review of Contemporary Research with a Comprehensive Bibliography 1931-1996 by Michael Murphy and Steven Donovan. We will use this as our primary source for the information presented below.
The physical benefits of meditation are the most researched aspects of meditation. For science this is the easiest and most objective place to begin their studies.
Heart Rate slows with meditation – There are many studies that have found this and a number of them have demonstrated that “some experienced individuals may achieve a permanent lowering of the heart rate with continued practice.” Page 46 PPEM
Blood Pressure is lowered while meditating – “There is strong evidence that meditation helps lower blood pressure in people who are normal or moderately hypertensive. This finding has been replicated by more than 19 studies.” Page 50 PPEM
Recover more quickly from stressful situations – There is “evidence that meditators recover more quickly from stressful impacts and demonstrate fewer chronic or emergency
Increase in alpha brain rhythms – Alpha brain waves are one of four basic brain waves (Delta Waves, Theta Waves, Alpha Waves, and Beta Waves) Alpha are not present in deep sleep or in fearful or angry situations. They are seen in while awake in a relaxed, effortless, attentive state. pg 57-58
Increase in Theta brain rhythms – Theta brain waves are strong during activities such as meditation, prayer, and spiritual awareness. They are associated with the state between wakefulness and sleep and is seen in connection with creativity, intuition, daydreaming, and is a repository for memories, emotions, and sensations. Pg 58
Heightens perceptual awareness – Meditation was found to increase perceptual awareness in a number of studies. Page 60
Quiets the bodies metabolic and respiratory systems – A common claim of meditation is that it calms the craziness of ordinary life. Studies have shown that meditation lowers the body’s need for energy and oxygen consumption needed to operate it while lowering the amount of carbon dioxide exhaled in the breathing cycle. Page 70
Muscle tension is reduced – Through meditation we become less defensive and can begin to relax more deeply. This relaxation of our muscles “contributes to the body’s lowered need for energy, the slowing of respiration, and the lowering of stress related hormones in the blood. Page 72
Lowers stress and anxiety – One of the classic stress or anxiety measurements is through the skin through the skin resistance ad the galvanic skin response test. Studies of these measurements have confirmed the one of the common benefits cited or meditation, that it reduces stress and anxiety. Page 73
Helps in the treatment of a variety of diseases – In the quest to treat cancer, researchers that a “broader, holistic approach involving meditation was needed. He (researcher Magarey) pointed out that meditation is associated with physiological rest and stability, and more positive attitude toward life, with an inner sense of calmness, strength and fulfillment.” Page 76
Significant factor in the healing process of cancer – There are a number of studies and cancer treatment facilities in the US, such as the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine in Massachusetts, that have demonstrated that meditation is a factor in the healing of cancer patients.
Helps with the treatment of Asthma. Page 76
Helps to alleviate chronic pain – Jon Kabat-Zinn, bestselling author of Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain and Illness, has demonstrated that “large and significant overall physical and psychological improvements were recorded with the various pain measuring indicators. Pages 77-78