The true purpose of meditation is to connect with spirit. But a wonderful side-effect is that it alleviates stress and the effects of stress on our bodies.
When the body experiences stress it releases hormones that cause a number of physiological changes:
- heartbeat increases
- blood pressure rises
- breathing speeds up
- sweating increases
- blood platelets become sticky
All of these changes were essential to primitive man. This is what is known as the fight/flight response and the changes that occur prepare the body to literally fight or run for its life.
However, in modern life we rarely have this urgent survival need. Yet we still experience "stress" when we perceive a threat to our happiness or the manifestation of our desires. These days most of our stresses are mental or emotional - they are caused by how we react to circumstances. And it doesn't matter if the perceived threat is real or imaginary - the body will still have the same changes in "reactive response" as it does in "fight/flight response".
Nowadays, instead of fighting or fleeing in times of stress, we tend to stew in it a little bit (or even alot!). Consquently, the stress hormones that are coursing through our veins are not being properly discharged, and over time they accumulate and erode our immunity. Ongoing stress causes anxiety, depletes seretonin (leading to depression), aggravates the symptoms of pre-existing medical conditions, and can be the seed that leads to the development of a wide range of physical illnesses.
What can meditation do about all of this?
In meditation we enter a state called restful awareness. And in this state the body also undergoes a number of physiological changes:
- heartbeat decreases
- blood pressure normalises
- breathing quietens
- sweating is reduced
- immunity is increased
The physiological changes experienced during meditation are the reverse of those experienced during stress! In a nutshell: meditation is the antidote to stress.
During meditation the body receives a very deep level of rest, allowing healing to take place. When practiced regularly it can heal the accumulated effects of stress already present in the body. Plus (for reasons to be discussed in the post on spiritual benefits), when you meditate you integrate qualities of peace and stillness in your everyday life. This has the side effect of making you less reactive to situations that would have previously irritated, frustrated, worried or upset you. So, by meditating, not only do you get to alleviate the effects of stress that already exist in your body, but you also become less likely to become stressed in the present.
It's all good really ;-)
What about serious chronic and terminal illnesses?
All illnesses have a spiritual origin and a spiritual solution. Spiritual practices can and do lead to miraculous healings all the time. But having a spiritual practice is not a cast-iron guarantee to anything - there will be other factors involved in the healing or non-healing of any disease.
Having said that, regular meditation strengthens your immunity and raises your energetic vibration - thereby working in your favour when it comes to looking for recovery from physical illness. Everything that exists in the physical world, though it appears to be solid matter, is energy vibrating at different frequencies and this includes the state of your health. The vibration of health is a high one, while sickness is a low vibration. To recover from illness you need to raise your energy vibration and meditation helps with that.
The presence of stress in the body or mind aggravates existing medical conditions. As meditation alleviates stress and improves immunity, it helps with the overall wellness of both the body and mind. It has been shown that many conditions such as PMS, anxiety/depression, diabetes (types 1 and 2), high cholestorel, and irritable bowel syndrome can all be alleviated with meditation.
It is possible that (twice) daily meditation could lead to complete recovery. But when it comes to cases where a cure is not the outcome of a meditation practice, there are still benefits to be experienced. We all die of something at some point, and healing doesn't necessarily involve a cure. But it does involve the alleviation of suffering, and that will be discussed more in the next couple of posts.
Whether the problems in your life relate to physical illness, relationship difficulties, financial hardship or any other crisis, meditation absolutely can help to provide a solution.
I hope you'll stay tuned to find out more ;-)
First post in this series: Could meditation be the solution to everything?
Next post: Meditation: the benefits to the subtle body