Meditation Practice Can Help You Remain Disease Free

types of meditationResearch into whether meditation practice can improve our health and longevity has been going on for years and although much of the evidence has been empirical, the fact that there are yogis who live healthy lives well into their 2nd century remains very impressive.

The secret to living a long, healthy life

So what do we really know? According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), “It is thought that some types of meditation might work by reducing activity in the sympathetic nervous system and increasing activity in the parasympathetic nervous system.” While we may not aspire to the aforementioned yogi’s lifestyle, most of us would enjoy adding a few more healthy years to our lives along with greater mental clarity.

Dr. Robert Keith Wallace was one of the first scientists to study the effects of meditation on aging and he published his findings in the International Journal of Neuroscience (16: 53 58, 1982). His research was based on the practice of Transcendental Meditation. Dr. Wallace found that subjects with an average chronological age of 50 years, who had been practicing Transcendental Meditation for over 5 years, had a biological age 12 years younger than their chronological age.

How to cut your biological age in half

That means a 55-year-old meditator had the physiology of a 43-year-old. Several of the subjects in the study were found to have a biological age 27 years younger than their chronological age. This study has since been replicated several times. Other studies have also shown the beneficial effects of Transcendental Meditation on the aging process. (look up: www.tmprogram.com.au/book/chap_3c.html)

My wife and I, according to laboratory blood tests that analyzed our telomeres (a new scientific way to discover the age of the biological body), were both found to be less than half our chronological ages. This was a very encouraging statement after many decades of meditation. This can also be your story.

Mediation has surprising health benefits

It certainly goes without saying that if meditation can help you remain disease-free or even just stack the odds in your favor, it would be something to investigate further. Actually, it appears that the more you meditate, the greater the benefits accrued. As an example, how about increasing circulation by reducing the constricting effects of stress? Meditation starts increasing circulation by as much as 30 percent. After you’ve become more experienced, you can expect it to increase by as much as 65 percent, according to Michael Murphy and Steven Donovan in The Physical and Psychological Effects of Meditation (Institute of Noetic Sciences, 1997).

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So often science wants absolute proof, when the methods for ascertaining that proof actually don't exist. It seems to me that if people feel that meditation benefits their health and well- being then there has to be some validity in the practice. Certainly regular meditation practice helps to alleviate stress, and as stress can have a negative effect on the immune system it seems to make sense that it will therefore improve our health.

The problem is when people expect a quick fix. There really is no such thing. Meditation practice needs to happen frequently and regularly for many years before true benefits can be realized. Unfortunately many of us don't stick at it long enough and regularly enough to feel the benefits

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