Traditional meditation has now wider acceptance among the public including many well-known politicians, actors and intellectuals around the globe; but still some western experts view it with suspicion or dismiss it downright as nonscientiﬁc stuff. Many term it as obscure and mystical ritual that is being practiced by gullible people and preached by vested interests for exploitation. Some scientists even summarily denounce it as Oriental nonsense!
In this chapter, I present the ﬁndings of several research studies on meditation. Several neuroscientists, psychologists, and medical institutes carried out these studies independently. Most of these experts were taken by surprise to discover a wide range of beneﬁts that related to not only stress and depression but also to cardiovascular diseases, the aging process and disorders affecting memory, attention, and sleep. Even more striking was the evidence that meditation bolsters the immune system. This explains why meditation has curative effects on many illnesses.
Logically, the anti-stress beneﬁts are the most critical in view of the fact that persistent anxieties, stress, and depression are the causative factors of several serious illnesses. There is no doubt that these afﬂictions have wide-ranging negative effects on health and our immune system. The inevitable question arises: how does meditation lead to anti-stress beneﬁts? Some experts might suggest that it must be a sort of faith healing, but that is not the case at all.
The answer is linked to the way meditation slows down and streamlines the activities of certain regions of the brain that become hyperactive to create stress and depression. It also rewires the brain in the long run to bring about a functional equilibrium in the cerebral regions, which are responsible for persistent anxieties and stress. Neuroscientists with the help of the latest brain-scanning devices have observed the benign workings of meditation minutely.
Therefore, this chapter is devoted to the workings of meditation and how such wide-ranging beneﬁts accrue. I have tried to provide extensive details of the scientiﬁc studies. In the latter part, I have explained how awareness meditation is a more effective and intelligent method compared to the traditional practices that are quite prevalent now. Some methods of how to effect emotional cleansing and live life more intelligently are elucidated as well. I have no doubt that anyone practising regular meditation with an open mind would be able to experience such beneﬁts directly. I hope that this will provide enough food for thought to the skeptics who tend to dismiss meditation as an obscure practice.
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