In the West the first view was that Meditation induced a type of dissociative state or a type of catatonia. Dr Herbert Benson is a pioneer in establishing the efficiency of Meditation for health through his research at Harvard University in the early 1970’s.
Dr Benson’s studies showed that Meditation acts as an antidote to stress. Under stress, the nervous system activates the “fight-or-flight” response. The activity of the sympathetic portion of the nervous system increases, causing an increased heart-beat, increased respiratory rate, elevation of blood pressure and increase in oxygen consumption.
Since then, studies on the relaxation response have documented the following short-term benefits to the nervous system:
Meditation is a practice that helps people achieve balance both mentally and physically and while it has taken several decades to gain acceptance in conventional medicine, it is now used to assist in the treatment in a range of conditions including depression, stress and anxiety.
Some other uses of Meditation include helping with sleeping disorders, low self-esteem and a range of emotional disorders. Meditation is also used to assist in overcoming addiction to smoking, alcohol and drugs. Studies indicate that regular practice can reduce blood pressure, greatly lower the symptoms of menopause and premenstrual syndrome and a wide range of other conditions.
Meditation helps to lower the heart rate and blood pressure by slowing down the breathing which lowers the amount of oxygen needed for the body. Due to the slowing down of the mental processes during Meditation, muscles relax and the body begins to function at a calmer and more natural level. This assists in relieving muscle pain, improves the function of the immune system and returns the body to its natural balance.
The application of Meditation as a healing tool for both emotional and physiological conditions can give greater clarity of thought, calmness and energy.
While using any form of Meditation may assist in healing the body and maintaining optimal health, specific visualization Meditations can also be used to address precise areas of the body where intensive healing is required. This may include visualizing healthy organs or directing attention to the particular part of body that requires healing. We may also include the chanting of positive Affirmations into a Meditation or use visualization where the person imagines an outside force like a bright, healing light shining on their body.