There is some evidence that meditation boosts the immune response in vaccine recipients and people with cancer, protects against a relapse in major depression, soothes skin conditions and even slows the progression of HIV. Meditation might even slow the aging process. Telomeres, the protective caps on the ends of chromosomes, get shorter every time a cell divides and so play a role in aging. Clifford Saron of the Center for Mind and Brain at the University of California, Davis, and colleagues showed in 2011 that levels of an enzyme that builds up telomeres were higher in people who attended a three-month meditation retreat than in a control group.
As with social interaction, meditation probably works largely by influencing stress response pathways. People who meditate have lower cortisol levels, and one study showed they have changes in their amygdala, a brain area involved in fear and the response to threat."
Fascinating read on the science behind how our minds affect our bodies, from loneliness to optimism to meditation
Thomas Merton, Honorable Reader: Reflections On My Work
WEBMD: Even very brief instruction in meditation appears to help people cope with pain, and a newly published brain imaging study may explain why.
After just four, 20-minute instructional sessions in mindfulness meditation, most participants in the small study experienced big reductions in pain intensity and unpleasantness when subjected to painful stimuli.
Prior to learning the meditation technique, brain imaging showed significant activity in a key area of the brain when the participants were subjected to intense heat, but this activity was reduced when they were meditating.
Sound of Flowing Cloud (by zeissizm)
When we dance, the journey itself is the point, as when we play music the playing itself is the point. And exactly the same thing is true in meditation. Meditation is the discovery that the point of life is always arrived at in the immediate moment."
"Just try this some time. Take into your mind an image––somebody that you care for, some image that you would care to contemplate––and try to hold this image still in your mind. You will find that you are immediately thinking of other images, associated with the first; for the mind continues spontaneously to move. Yoga is the intentional stopping of this spontaneous activity of the mind stuff. It is an intentional bringing to rest of this continuous action.
"But why should one wish to do this?
"A favorite simile used in Indian discussions of this is that of the surface of a pond with its waves in action––a wind blowing over the pond and the waves moving. If you look at the surface of a pond moving in this way you will see the many reflections––many broken forms; nothing will be perfect, nothing complete; you will have only broken images before you. But if the wind dies down and the waters become perfectly still and clear, suddenly the whole perspective shifts and you are not seeing a lot of broken images, reflecting things round about. You are looking down through the clear water to the lovely sandy bottom, and perhaps you will see fish in the water. The whole perspective changes and you behold, not a multitude of broken images, but a single, still, unmoving image.
"This is the idea of yoga. The notion is that what we see when we look around, like this, are the broken images of a perfect form. And what is that form? It is the form of a divine reality, which appears to us only in broken images when our mind stuff is in action.""
Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet, translation by Stephen Mitchell
1. Recognize that the voice in your head is not “you”
2. Learn to observe that voice and its effect upon emotion
3. Recognize that that voice is under your control
4. Through practice learn to control that voice and to quiet it at will
Yogic meditation is a technique for reining in the inner voice and obtaining a state known as mindfulness. First described nearly 3000 years ago it is practiced by Hindus, Buddhists, Taoists and anybody else who seeks a quiet mind.