A BIT ABOUT MEDITATION


Meditation has been described as a direct method of transforming consciousness, of the mind directly working on the mind; as distinct from indirect methods of working on the mind like tai chi, yoga and dancing.

For thousands of years meditation has been practised to develop or awaken peace and wisdom. Since the 1960’s meditation has attracted increasing attention in the West. For example, millions of people now practise meditation on a daily basis in the West. Since 1970 well over 2000 pieces of research have looked into meditation. These have typically highlighted the physiological, psychological and social benefits of meditation.

Frankly, generally I don’t like talking about the benefits of regular meditation practice. I normally prefer to invite people to give it a try and to trust the evidence of their experience. ‘Is it helpful or is it not? Is it useful or is it not? Does it have the taste of freedom or does it not?’

Some samples of research findings:

Slowing Down the Aging Process
Biological age measures how old a person is physiologically. As a group, long-term meditators who had been practicing meditation for more than five years were physiologically twelve years younger than their chronological age. Short-term meditators were physiologically five years younger than their chronological age. The study controlled for the effects of diet and exercise.
(International Journal of Neuroscience, 16: 53-58, 1982.)

Deep Relaxation
A comprehensive statistical "meta-analysis" was conducted that compared the findings of 31 physiological studies on meditation and on resting with eyes closed. The research showed that meditation provides a far deeper state of relaxation than does simple eyes-closed rest.
(American Psychologist, 42: 879-881, 1987.)

Reducing Pre-Menstrual Syndrome
One study on the effects of meditation on women with severe PMS showed a 57% reduction in physical and psychological symptoms.
(Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Volume 75, pages 649-655, April, 1990)

Reduced Need for Medical Care
A study of health insurance statistics on over 2,000 people practicing meditation over a five-year period found that meditators consistently had less than half the hospitalization than did other groups with comparable age, gender, profession, and insurance terms. The difference between the meditation and non-meditation groups increased in older-age brackets. In addition, the meditators had fewer incidents of illness in seventeen medical treatment categories, including 87% less hospitalization for heart disease and 55% less for cancer. The meditators consistently had more than 50% fewer doctor visits than did other groups.
(Psychosomatic Medicine, 49: 493-507, 1987.)


Lowered Blood Pressure

Eighty percent of hypertensive patients who practiced meditation have lowered blood pressure and decreased medications - 16% are able to discontinue all of their medications. These results lasted at least three years.

(Journal of Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation, Volume 9, pages 316-324, 1989)


Fewer Doctor Visits
Chronic pain patients who practiced meditation reduced their visits to the doctor by 36%.
(The Clinical Journal of Pain, Volume 2, pages 305-310, 1991)

Improved Sleep

One hundred percent of insomnia patients who took up meditation reported improved sleep and 91% either eliminated or reduced sleeping medication use.

(The American Journal of Medicine, Volume 100, pages 212-216, 1996) 

In addition, here are two meditation research findings that directly relate to the workplace:

Improved Productivity and Improved Relations at Work
In this study subjects practicing meditation showed significant improvements at work, compared with members of a control group. Job performance and job satisfaction increased while desire to change jobs decreased. This study also found significant improvements in relations with managers and fellow workers after an average of eleven months practicing meditation, in comparison to control subjects. People at every level of the organization benefited from practicing meditation.
(Academy of Management Journal, 17: 362-368, 1974.)

Improved Mental Well-Being at Work

In this three-month study two companies introduced meditation at work. Managers and employees who regularly practiced meditation improved significantly in overall physical health, mental well-being and vitality when compared to control subjects with similar jobs in the same companies. Meditation practitioners also reported significant reductions in health problems such as headaches and backaches, improved quality of sleep, and a significant reduction in the use of alcohol and cigarettes, compared to personnel in the control groups.

(Anxiety, Stress and Coping International Journal, 6: 245-262, 1993.)