MadSci Network: Neuroscience

Re: Neurological/chemical effects on the human brain as a result of meditation.

Area: Neuroscience
Posted By: Salvatore Cullari, Professor and Chair,Lebanon Valley College
Date: Thu Aug 21 15:10:14 1997
Area of science: Neuroscience
ID: 867396585.Ns
     The term meditation comes from the Latin mederi, which means to heal.  
It has been employed in one form or another by virtually all religions for 
thousands of years.   In the United States meditation has grown in 
popularity over the last 40 years or so largely due to the influence  of 
Zen Buddhism and the introduction of transcendental meditation by Maharishi 
Mahesh Yogi. 
     Meditation seems to have a lot in common with other similar techniques 
such as visualization, self-hypnosis, progressive  relaxation, and 
biofeedback. In fact, some people believe that these may all be different 
variations of the same process. Some evidence in support of this is the 
finding that the physiological changes that result from meditation can also 
be achieved by any deep muscle relaxation technique.
     Meditation has been found to lower stress by reducing cortisol, a 
hormone that our body releases in response to stress.  It has also been 
found to lower blood pressure, our metabolic rate and oxygen consumption. 
There have been countless other claims about the benefits of meditation, 
such as increasing fertility, decreasing pain, anxiety and depression and 
increasing our lifespan. However, not all of these claims have been 
scientifically validated.  
     To learn more about meditation, visit these sites on the Internet:

     Some popular books that discuss meditation are Nature’s Cures, by 
Michael Castleman (1996-Rodale Press), and various books by Dr. Herbert 
Benson, such as the Relaxation Response.  If you  visit (an internet bookstore),
you will find hundreds of  books about  meditation  and related topics.

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