The benign effect of meditation proven scientifically help understand and appreciate this practice more.
Blood Pressure: Meditation is shown to lower High Blood Pressure or Hypertension in many studies. It not only controls Hypertension but has also shown to help in the prevention of angina and heart attacks. The studies of H. Benson (USA), C. Patel (U.K.), Van Dixhoom (Netherlands) and Dean Ornish (U.S.A.) must be mentioned in this context.
Cardio-vascular capacity: With meditation, the oxygen consumption of the body decreases considerably thereby a person can stay longer in even very low Oxygen condition. The body, in fact, requires less oxygen for its maintenance. Dr. B.K. Anand, Dr. G.S. Chinna and Dr. Baldev Singh of AIIMs published their revolutionary study on meditation in the early sixties. Dr. R.K. Wallace (U.S.A.) in 1972 confirmed these findings.
Respiratory Rate: During meditation, the respiratory rate decreases considerably. In regular meditators, the rate can be as low as 4-5 per minute. This gives a better gaseous exchange in the lungs and the deep breathing utilizes more of lungs capacity. This process also acts as a cleanser.
EMG or Electromyography: This measures the tension in our muscles. Those who work under a lot of mental stress, for example, the business people maintain a higher degree of tension in their muscles and naturally complain of body aches and muscular pains. It has been shown by EMG recording that during meditation the muscles relax and the tension in the muscles is relieved. People suffering from stress-induced aches and pains are often advised meditation by doctors to relax the muscular system.
Metabolic Rate: Metabolic rate stands for the need for energy by our body. It has been shown by R.K. Wallace (U.S.A.) that the body passes into a hypo-metabolic state and needs fewer calories for its maintenance during meditation. Thus meditation by those who have body aches and pains due to the mental strains is medically advised.
ECG Recording: Electrocardiographic monitoring the heart during meditation has been carried out by a number of researches. It has been found that by using this technique the heart rate becomes slow, the rhythm becomes regular and the heart becomes less prone to Myocardial Infarction (heart attacks).
Cholesterol: High blood cholesterol, which is dangerous for heart patients, can be brought down by regular practice of meditation and yoga. Meditation along with Yoga can stop deposits of cholesterol inside the arteries and can even reduce the deposits. This has been proved for certain (Dean Ornish, USA, 1990).
Bio-Chemical and Physiological Changes induced by Yoga
Catechol Amines: These are hormones which are directly related to stress. Increase in Catecholamines (Adrenaline and Noradrenaline) cause increased heart rate, blood pressure, blood sugar and sweating. The production of these hormones during anxiety was discussed in the first section of this book. The release of these hormones set off increased sympathetic activity and cause damaging to most organs of the body. Aggressive and impatient people have high sympathetic activity and Catecholamine secretion. Meditation is very useful to such personalities as it helps reduce the hormonal secretion by calming the system to below these anxiety levels.
Blood Sugar: Practice of meditation can lead to better control of blood sugar in diabetic persons. Some yogasanas are also of benefit to the patients.
EEG or Electroencephalography: This is the electrical recording of the brain’s activity. EEG of the brain has shown that many beneficial changes occur in the brain during meditation. The Alpha waves, which produce a pleasant, soothing feeling, bring relaxation and lower anxiety become more prominent during meditation practice. The increase in Alpha waves is more predominant in long time meditation and regular meditators.
Pain reduction is accomplished not only by the physiological effects of meditation but also by the mental changes that mindfulness brings. Mindfulness practice encourages the development of observing awareness that notices pain without becoming emotionally involved in it. Being the observer of pain, whether physical or emotional, is an entirely different experience than being the victim of pain. The result of this shift is a reduction of suffering and a disruption of the vicious cycle of helplessness, anger, and tension which can sustain pain.
Reduces High Blood Pressure
The relaxation and exercise components of yoga have a major role to play in the treatment and prevention of high blood pressure (hypertension). A combination of kayotsarga and shwaas and chanting Om has been found to lower blood pressure and reduce the need for high blood pressure medication in people suffering from it.