WHAT SCIENCE KNOWS
AND THE TRANSPERSONAL SELF
MEDITATION MAY BOOST IMMUNE SYSTEM
A study conducted by university
researchers is the first to
suggest that meditation may have positive biological effects
on the body's ability to fight infection and disease. Also,
the meditation group exhibited increased activity in the
left side of the frontal part of the brain, indicating lower
anxiety levels and a more positive emotional state.
In "The Meditative Mind: The Varieties of Meditation Experience", Daniel Goleman, psychologist and frequent writer for The New York Times, summarizes a number of remarkable physical and physiological effects of meditation (and relaxation):
Other meditation research has demonstrated this wide range of psychological benefits:
Of special interest is Daniel Goleman's own research demonstrating the greater tolerance for stress by those who meditate. He gives us some insight into how meditation accomplishes this:
People who are chronically anxious or who have a psychosomatic disorder share a specific pattern of reaction to stress; their bodies mobilize to meet the challenge, then fail to stop reacting when the problem is over. Their bodies stay aroused for danger when they should be relaxed, recouping spent energies and gathering resources for the next brush with stress.
The anxious person meets life's normal events as though they were crises. Each minor happening increases his tension, and his tension in turn magnifies the next ordinary event - a deadline, an interview, a doctor's appointment - into a threat. Because the anxious person's body stays mobilized after one event has passed, he has a lower threat threshold for the next. Had he been in a relaxed state, he would have taken the second event in stride.
A meditator handles stress in a way that breaks up the threat 'arousal' threat spiral. The meditator relaxes after a challenge passes, more often than the non-meditator. This makes him unlikely to see innocent occurrences as harmful. He perceives threat more accurately, and reacts with arousal only when necessary. Once aroused, his rapid recovery makes him less likely than the anxious person to see the next deadline as a threat.
(From The Meditative Mind, pp. 164-165)
From Creative Meditation by Richard Peterson, Ph.D. A.R.E. Press, 1990.
Meditation is the key to relaxation
09 July 2001
Yoga fanatics and laid-back celebrities have been chanting about the benefits of meditation for years, but now it looks as if they could be right.A US study has found that practising meditation can reduce the mental and medical symptoms of stress.
Researchers from West Virginia University carried out a study of 62 stressed people, which involved an eight-week course with classes once a week and one eight-hour retreat. Participants learnt four types of meditation, some basic yoga postures and how to use meditation in their normal lives once the course had finished.
The findings of the study, published in the latest issue of the American Journal of Health Promotion, showed over half the subjects experienced a drop in psychological distress by an average of 54 per cent. The trainees also said there was a 46 per cent drop in the medical symptoms they had experienced as a result of stress.
Dr Kimberly Williams, who led the research, said, "The purpose of training is for participants to gain greater insight into their perceptions, reactions and behaviours in life situations. Through the practice of mindfulness, subjects are taught to consciously respond to stressful situations in their daily life." A spokesman for the International Stress Management Association UK supported the study's findings, emphasising how important it is to take positive action to combat stress. He said, "Don't feel guilty about including a period of relaxation every day. Find something you enjoy that fits into your life. Also consider a stress-management course." © Health Media Ltd 2001
Sentenced to three years hard
Governments determined to turn prisons into effective rehabilitation institutions may have to change their focus from long sentences and turn to more alternative methods. New research suggests the ancient Indian art of Vipassana meditation could help to improve discipline and co-operation among prisoners.
Vipassana, which means to see things as they really are, is one of India's most ancient techniques of meditation. Practiced for over 2,500 years, it is a type of "mindfulness" meditation that brings enhanced self-awareness. The technique has been employed in several prisons in India, the US and New Zealand with "remarkable success", researchers reported at this week's Royal College of Psychiatrists annual conference.
It has now been tried on an experimental basis in the UK's Lancaster prison with similar success. Inmates practising the technique became more disciplined and co-operative, said prison staff. In addition, inmates became less prone to depression and hostility, suggesting the technique could play a role in the treatment of mental illness. Because roughly a third of prisoners have very significant psychiatric problems, this could be an effective alternative to potentially addictive psychiatric medications, Dr Kishore Chandiramini, of the Queen Elizabeth Psychiatric Hospital in Birmingham, told delegates.
The institutional cost involved in running the training courses is minimal, costing less than alternative ways of modifying behaviour, he added. Vipassana was also readily accepted by the inmates, and several hundred police officers and prison staff have since voluntarily learned the technique for their personal development. Further US research will establish if Vipassana could lead to a reduction in inmate drug and alcohol addictions and criminal behaviour. © Health Media Ltd 2001
DOES YOGA HOLD THE KEY TO EPILEPSY? Patients involved in a novel experiment aimed at finding a treatment for epilepsy are not being asked to take drugs or to have injections - they are learning yoga instead. Full story: http://www.healthypages.net/news.asp?newsid=107
Global Consciousness Is Being Measured
by William Lee Rand
A team of researchers headed by Roger Nelson of Princeton University has been conducting an experiment to measure the effects of focused global consciousness on random events. They have had some very interesting results.
Called the Global Consciousness Project, their experiment involves the use of 37 computers located around the world using random number generators to flip virtual coins. The experiment has been going on since 1998. Each computer flips 200 virtual coins at a time and the results of all computers are compared. The results are usually completely random with the virtual coin tosses come up heads or tails 50% of the time. However, when a global event takes place that focuses the attention of billions of people, the randomness of the coin tosses changes and they tend to go significantly more one way than another. In other words they become more coherent or non-random. This took place on September 11 when so many people worldwide were focused on the events of the World Trade Center disaster. This produced the strongest effect so far, but other events have coincided with changes in randomness too, including: each New Years Eve, the papal visti to Israel, the first hour of NATO bombing in Yugoslavia, a variety of global meditations, several major earthquakes, the funeral for Princess Diana and last years sinking of Russia's Kursk submarine. This seems to indicate that consciousness has an effect on other wise random events.
This is a profound scientific discovery as it tends to validate the basis of Reiki and other forms of spiritual healing. Of course anyone who has sent distant Reiki knows this is true from personal experience, but it is important that science is discovering ways to measure these effects. As more attention is focused on scientific studies of this type, they are bound to motivate larger groups of people to use Reiki and other kinds of healing. It is also possible that a better understanding of healing and prayer will develop. This is an important indication that a paradym shift is taking place which will usher in the age of consciousness which I have previously written about in "The Spirit of Reiki." Any scientific method that demonstrates a measureable connection between the mind and events in the physical world is revolutionary in nature and worthy of further study . The Global Consciousness Project will continue.
The Global Consciousness Project: http://noosphere.princeton.edu/
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