Healing Through Meditation
In the Mind-Body Connection spirit of this site and blog, invited guest contributor Shielagh Shusta-Hochberg, Ph.D. offers a post on Healing Through Meditation. Research has identified a mechanism by which mindful meditation affects the body at the molecular level, altering activity of genes that control inflammation (a precursor of disease), increases our ability to deal with stress, lowers the risk of heart attack and stroke, relieves chronic lower back pain and aids in cancer therapy. The RIPK2 and COX2 genes, which increase inflammation, were found to be less active in people practicing meditation than in test-subjects. The researchers noted that these genes are being studied as targets for many inflammation-reducing medications. Meditation has also been shown to produce changes in the brain’s structure. People who have meditated for many years have more gray matter than non-meditators. – Joan Healing Through Meditation Shielagh Shusta-Hochberg, Ph.D. Meditation is an ancient practice that has become very mainstream over the past few decades. Celebrities extoll its virtues, doctors recommend it for patients, therapists urge clients to try it, and libraries, community centers and health clubs offer classes in meditation along with yoga, tai chi, and aerobics. Chances are you know someone who practices meditation. Perhaps you yourself already meditate. If so, you already know the benefits. If not, perhaps reading this will inspire you to try meditation or return to it if you left it. Meditation’s History and Variations There are many forms of meditation: Loving Kindness (metta), Insight (vipassana,) Calm Abiding (shamatha), Concentration (dhyana), Mindfulness (sati), Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction (MBSR), chanting, Zen parables (koans), Transcendental Meditation (TM), and quite a few others. Meditation comes to us from India where it was practiced in the earliest Hindu and Buddhist traditions.