We have already seen that: (a) University of Massachusetts study, and (b) Dr. Singh’s (Editors) study confirm that meditation increases melatonin levels which is an important factor for decreasing the risk of cancer (e.g.breast and prostate).
The objective of this University of Massachusetts study was to test the hypothesis that the regular practice of mindfulness meditation is associated with increased physiological levels of melatonin. Melatonin may be related to a variety of biologic functions important in maintaining health and preventing disease, including breast and prostate cancer. Previous studies have shown melatonin production as photosensitive and they suggest here that is also may be psychosenstitive. Moreover,Â another study by Dr. Singh found additional benefits of meditation with mantra intonations (see the book Self-Healing Powerful Techniques).
- Higher states of consciousness were induced.
- Increases in positive mood, decreases in anxiety, decreases in stress.
- Decreases in blood pressure, and heart rate.
In this publication we will consider the numerous benefits of meditation that several scientific studies have shown. In the years ahead, we will provide you with several powerful techniques to develop your powers of concentration, visualization, imagery, and ability to meditate effectively to optimize your health (Physically, Psychologically, and Spiritually).
Samples of Scientific Studies Confirming the Health Producing Effects of Meditation:
A) Meditation decreases heart rate.
- Heart Rate: Many contemporary studies have indicated that the heart rate usually slows in quiet meditation and quickens during active disciplines or moments of ecstasy, as we would expect from contemplative writings that describe the calming effect of silent meditation and the stimulation of exercises such as Tantric visualization or devotional chanting.
- Most studies of Transcendental Meditation (TM), Zen Buddhist sitting, Herbert Benson’s “relaxation response,” and other calming forms of meditation indicate that meditating subjects generally experience a lowering of the heart rate. The results of such studies vary to some degree, since they depend on different kinds of subject groups and various experimental procedures, with some showing an average decline of seven beats or more per minute among their subjects and some showing two or three beats per minute among some of their subjects. Bagga and Gandhi (1983) found an average decline as high as fifteen beats per minute among some of their subjects. Some studies indicate that meditation lowers the heart rate more than biofeedback, progressive relaxation, other therapies, or simple sitting, while other studies indicate that these various activities have an equivalent effect on the heart rate.
- The following studies show a decrease in heart rate during meditation. Bono (1984) found that the reduction of heart rate during TM was greater than the reduction resulting from sitting quietly with eyes closed. Delmonte (1984f) found that heart rates were slightly lower during meditation than rest for fifty-two subjects.
- Bagga and Gandhi (1983) compared groups of six TM practitioners and six Shavasana practitioners (relaxing while lying on one’s back) with six controls, and found significantly reduced heart rates for those practicing a combination of meditation and exercise. Throll (1982) found that a Transcendental Meditation group displayed a more significant decrease in heart rate than a group using Jacobson’s progressive relaxation.
- Pollard and-Ashton (1982) divided sixty subjects into six groups in a comparison of heart rate decrease obtained by visual feedback, auditory feedback, combined visual and auditory feedback, instructions to decrease heart rate without biofeedback, sitting quietly, and abbreviated relaxation training. A comparison group of meditators with a minimum of six years of experience was also studied. The results indicated that there was no advantage of a heart rate decrease task for subjects receiving visual, auditory, or combined biofeedback, though all groups showed evidence of a decline in heart rate over the testing session. The meditation group showed the greatest overall decline, with a decrease in heart rate of approximately seven beats per minute, versus three beats per minute for the groups using biofeedback techniques.
- Cuthbert et al. (1981) had results demonstrating clear superiority for meditators using Benson’s relaxation response versus heart rate biofeedback especially when the subject experimenter relationship was supportive. Lang et al. (1979) placed the heart rate decrease for advanced TM meditators withmore than four years of practice at 9%. Bauhofer (1978) found that the heart rates of experienced TM meditators were lowered by TM more than those of less experienced TM meditators. Corey (1977) and Routt (1977) reported that Transcendental Meditation appeared to decrease heart rate under non-stress conditions.
B) Mediation Causes greater Blood flow in fingers.
- Delmonte (19841) tested fifty-two subjects and found that meditators showed a significantly greater increase in digital blood volume during meditation than rest. Jevning, Wilson, and O’Halloran (1982) studied muscle and skin blood flow and metabolism during states of decreased activation in TM. They concluded that acute decline of forearm oxygen consumption has been observed during an acute, wakeful behaviorally induced rest/relaxation state.
C) Meditation increases brain and skin blood flow and cardiac output.
- Earlier, Jevning and Wilson (1978) reported that TM increased cardiac output among twenty-seven subjects by an average of 16% (ml/min measured by dye dilution methods), decreased hepatic blood flow by an average of 34% (ml/min measured by clearance methods), and decreased renal blood flow by an average of 29% (ml/min measured by clearance methods), suggesting an increase of approximately 44% in the nonrenal, nohepatic component of blood flow (versus an increase of approximately 12% for an eyes closed rest-relaxation control group). Increased cerebral or skin blood flow may account for part of this redistribution.
- Jevning et al, (1976) found an average 15% increase in cardiac output, and average 20% decline in liver blood flow, and an average 20% decrease in renal blood flow among a group of six meditators practicing TM.
D)Meditation increases brain and forearm blood flow and decreases blood lactate (a potential toxic build up in muscles).
- Wallace et al. (1971a) speculated that the fall in blood lactate during meditation might be due to increased skeletal muscle blood flow with consequent increased aerobic metabolism. These researchers referred to Riechert (1976), who recorded forearm blood flow increases of 30% with unchanged finger blood flow (using aplethysmograph). Jevning and Wilson (1978) found that frontal cerebral blood flow increased an average of 65% during TM for ten teachers of the technique (five to eight years of regular practice), and remained elevated afterwards, with brief increases up to 100-200% (measured by quadripolar rheoencephalography). Levander et al. (1972) measured forearm blood flow (using a water plethysmograph) in five subjects 180 times and reported that the pretest period mean blood flow of 1.41 ml/100ml tissue volume/min increased to 1.86 ml/100ml tissue volume/min during TM, and returned to pretest values during post-testing. Wallace and Benson (1972) found an increase in forearm blood flow of 32% for their TM subjects.
E) Meditation Lowers Blood Pressure.
- 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 nineteen studies, some of which have shown systolic reductions among their subjects of 25mmHg or more. In some studies a combination of meditation with biofeedback or other relaxation techniques proved to be more effective than meditation alone for some subjects. Several studies, however, have shown that relief from high blood pressure diminishes or disappears entirely if meditation is discontinued, and few people with acute hypertension have experienced lower blood pressure in experiments of this kind.
Cort (1988a) It was hypothesized that the large variability of results in different studies on the effect of meditation on hypertension may be due to differences in compliance to the meditation regimens. This study of fiftyone black adults supports the claim that greater compliance to a mediation program leads to greater decreases in blood pressure.
Wallace et al. (1983b) This study measured systolic blood pressure using a standard mercury pshygmomanomter on 112 Transcendental Meditators. The subject has a mean systolic blood pressure 13.7 to 24.5 less than the population mean. The analysis also showed that meditators with more than five years of experience had a mean systolic blood pressure 7.5 lower than meditators with less than five years of experience.
- Bagga and Gandhi (1983) The authors studied a group of eighteen people who were equally divided into a TM, Shavasana (relaxing while lying on one’s back), or control group. After Twelve weeks of practicing, the TM and Shavasana groups showed significant declines in systolic blood pressure as high as 10mmHg, whereas the control group demonstrated no decline.
- Pollack et al. (1977) Twenty hypertensive patients, nine of whom were on stable dosages of hypotensive medication, were taught TM. Blood pressure reductions were 10 mmHg systolic/2 mmHg diastolic after three months and 6 mmHg systolic/2 mmHg diastolic after six months. The only statistically significant reduction in blood pressure occurred after three months. Meditation plus biofeedback produced decreases in diastolic blood pressure earlier in the training program than meditation alone.
F) Meditation relaxes many large muscle groups
- At the time of this writing, speculation regarding the mechanisms mediating meditation’s beneficial effects on high blood pressure appears to be inconclusive. Meditation often helps relax the large muscle groups pressing on the circulatory system in various parts of the body. It might also help relax the small muscles that control the blood vessels themselves; when that happens, the resulting elasticity of blood vessel walls would help reduce the pressure inside them. Other mechanisms may be involved, which further research will reveal. The following studies explored meditation’s effect on blood pressure and hypertension. Blood pressure is one of the easiest physiological variables to measure. The evidence just presented shows that many patients with moderate hypertension improve with meditation. Because these studies involved different types of meditation, different levels of meditation experience among subjects, and different kinds of measurement, the mechanisms mediating the improvement are uncertain. Most studies indicate that benefits disappear without continued practice.
G) Yoga relaxation methods lower blood pressure.
- Patel and North (1975) Thirty-four hypertensive patients were assigned at random either to six weeks of treatment by yoga relaxation methods with biofeedback or to placebo therapy (general relaxation). Both groups showed a reduction in blood pressure (from 168/100 to 141/84 mmHg in the treated croup and from 169/101 to 160/96 mmHg in the control group The difference was highly significant. The control group was then trained in yogaÂrelaxation, and the blood pressure fell to that of the other group (now used as controls).
H) A combination of yoga breathing meditation, muscle relaxation, and meditation lowered blood pressure.
- Patel (1973) Twenty hypertension patients using hypotensive drugs were taught yoga, breath meditation, muscle relaxation, and meditation concentration. Their average blood pressure was reduced from 159.1/100.1 mmHg to 138.7/85.9 mmHg. The average blood pressure of twenty control subjects, who rested on a couch for the same number of sessions and who were given no relaxation training, was reduced from 163.1/99.1 mmHg to 162.6/97.0 mmHg.
I) In experienced meditators showed lowered blood pressure when given short TM meditation training.
- Benson and Wallace (1972a) Twenty-two hypertensives with no meditation experience were given the standard TM training. Their mean blood presure before meditation was 150/94 mmHg. After four to sixty-three weeks of meditation practice their mean blood pressure was reduced to 141/87 mmHg.
J) Meditation relieves cardiovascular disease.
- Evidence that meditation helps relieve certain forms of cardiovascular disease generally conforms to assertions that yoga, tai chi, and other transformational disciplines promote health. Similarly, evidence that meditators recover more quickly from stressful impacts and demonstrate fewer chronic or inappropriate emergency responses than nonmeditators agrees in a general way with teachings about the alert calm and peace of yogic practice or the effortless but appropriate behavior of Zen Buddhist and Taoist adepts.
K) Meditation relieves high cholesterol and angina pectoris.
- Contemporary scientific evidence suggests that meditation assists individuals with forms of cardiovascular disease, hypercholesterolemia and angina pectoris.
-By Dr. Ranjie Singh