MEDITATION - The Secret of the Ancients

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Ancient Indians have found out that we have four major states of consciousness: the waking state, the dream state, the deep sleep state and the Turiyam state. Actually the Turiyam is not a state, it is the pure consciousness which manifests in all other states. Our ancestors have devised method called meditation to attain this state. This state is also the deepest possible relaxation state or state of rest.

There are many variations of meditations being practiced today. Transcendental meditation (TM ), Vipasana Meditation etc. are some of them. Holistic Integration Technique (HIT) is one of the simplest yet powerful system of meditation.

Be forewarned that meditation is actually a means to the end Turiyam. Meditation per se will not do -- you should reach the Turiyam state, which is the deepest possible total relaxation state. Once you are able to reach such a state, you can reap the benefits of the same.

The effects of meditation on both the physiology and psychology of the meditator have been studied with the aid of sophisticated technology. Results are in line with the claims made by the practitioners. The tests were carried out on meditators who have been practicing meditation for more than two years.

The Benefits of Meditation

Some of the important benefits of meditation are given below. For getting significant benefit from meditation, one should meditate habitually for 15-20 minutes daily at the same time. Meditating two times a day -- morning and evening -- is more better. Any type of meditation is OK.

1. Reduced Heart Rate; Normalization Of High BP

Heart rates have been found to fall during meditation. This is beneficial because the heart has reduced work load only. The effect tend to persist even when not meditating (in those who have been practicing meditation for longer years).

Significant reduction in high BP occur with one month of meditation practice. Normalization of BP occurs after the patient meditates for more than a year.

2. Increased Autonomic Balance

Both the sympathetic and para-sympathetic aspects of the Autonomic Nervous System are found to have increased balance. The results of this are more blood flow to the peripheries eg. forearm, feet etc.

3. Perfect Rest; Physical Rest Maintained In Activity

The state of consciousness attained during meditation, called the Turiyam or the pure consciousness is considered to the deepest possible rest or relaxation in both body and mind.

Experiments have shown that overall average breathing reduction which shows a deeper state of rest has been recorded in meditators during meditation. High coherence of brain waves(EEG) in alpha and theta frequency bands showing restfulness have been established. The meditator is further found to be able to maintain rest even in activities. Greater resistance to disruption of the relaxed state performing the given task has also been noted. In short, it is well established that the meditator has increased physiological stability and adaptability of the nervous system which helps the relaxation to persist even when engaged in activity.

4. Reduced Stress - Lower Levels Of Plasma Cortisol

Stress as we all know is a psychologically agitated state which is the opposite of rest or relaxation. Physiologists have found that increased level of a chemical called corisol is the sign of lessened physiological integrity and lower levels of cortisol means lesser anxiety. Cortisol levels are high when a person is highly anxious or under stress or when he has decreased resistance to certain diseases. It has been found that meditators show lower levels of cortisol during meditation and that this tends to persist in them even when not in meditation.

5 .Coherence Of Brain Waves

EEG recordings of meditators during meditation have shown that coherent and orderly functioning of the brain occur. Ideational fertility, anticipation of consequences, judgement, attention, timing, memory, conceptualization, abstraction etc. have been found to improve significantly.

6. Increased Creativity

Experiments conducted on meditators who have 18 months or more experience in meditation established that creativity increased significantly. The test used was Torrance Test of Creative Thinking which tests the three major aspects of creative thinking -- fluency, flexibility and originality. Meditators scored high in all these aspects.

7. Increased Intelligence Growth Rate

Psychologists have found that the rate of growth of intelligence becomes almost negligible once we pass the age of sixteen. But individuals habitually practicing meditation continue to maintain significant intelligence growth after this age.

8. Increased Academic Performance

Studies on high school students have shown that habitual meditators attained increased academic performance. Decreased stress or anxiety, improved self-esteem, increased clarity of mind, increased energy level and increased creativity may be the reasons for this.

9. Reduced Alcohol And Cigarettes

People use alcohol or cigarettes more when they experience stress. Since meditation provides high level of rest or relaxation, stress do not attack them easily. This tends to reduce the dependence to alcohol and cigarettes.

10. Relief From Insomnia

Deep-rooted stress/anxiety is the reason for chronic insomnia. As habitual meditation dissolves deep seated stresses, the sleeping cycle naturally improves. Even two to three months of habitual meditation can have significant effects on insomnia.

11. Normalization Of Weight

Most eating disorders are of psychological origin. People who have a lot of stress either tend to eat more or tend to avoid food altogether. Meditation helps to dissolve or release stress and cope up with stress effectively. People feel more empowered due to this and their hating habits tend to normalize gradually. It has been found that meditators who had over weight lose significant amounts of weight where as those who were under weight gained weight.

12. Improved Athletic Performance

A one-and-a-half to two months habitual meditation has found to increase the performance of athletes. This is because meditation promotes holistic body-mind coordination resulting in faster reactions, improved metabolic functioning and integration.

13. Increased Perceptual Ability

Meditation produces a deep relaxation or rest which improves the information processing capabilities of the perceptual system.