|MadSci Network: Neuroscience|
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: www.rsl.ukans.edu/~pkanagar/meditation/ www.tm.org/research/bibliographies/volumn_1.html#anchor176525/ 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 www.amazon.com (an internet bookstore), you will find hundreds of books about meditation and related topics.
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