Oct 23, 2015

Meditation: The secret to a healthy life?

Nikkei Asia
October 22, 2015

The arrival of transcendental meditation, or TM, in the U.S. and Europe in the 1960s piqued researchers' interest. Herbert Benson of Harvard Medical School conducted a series of clinical trials on meditators from various disciplines, including TM and Tibetan Buddhism. In 1975, he published a book -- "The Relaxation Response" -- in which several types of meditation for relaxation are discussed. 

TM became popular in schools, universities and companies in the U.S., Latin America, Europe and Asia. It remains one of the most widely studied techniques, with research articles numbering in the thousands. 

Research to understand the effects of meditation is a growing subfield of neurological science. Meditation techniques have been used in psychotherapy. Activation of the parasympathetic nervous system and stress relief are thought to play a positive role in treating chronic health conditions.

The 1973 Nobel laureate in physics, Brian Josephson of Cambridge University in the U.K., conducted extensive research on parapsychological phenomena -- telepathy, psychokinesis, higher states of consciousness and so on. In 1971, he began practicing TM, which had also attracted celebrities, including the Beatles.

Josephson explored the idea that there is intelligence in nature, and in 1979, he practiced a more advanced form of TM, known as TM-Sidhi. According to the professor, meditation could lead to mystical and scientific insights, which led him to believe in a creator. When I met Josephson at Cambridge in 2010, he was still practicing meditation.

Daily practice

Each day brings new challenges and opportunities. It is important to start the day with positive thoughts, and morning meditation is one of the most powerful ways to get into a good state of mind. 

     My own experience with meditation and yoga has taught me that daily practice can completely transform the quality of one's life. The benefits are manifold: We can train ourselves to maintain peace, energy and heightened awareness throughout the day. Regular meditation fosters effective communication, promotes healing and can help practitioners make the most of their talents.

Tejraj M. Aminabhavi is emeritus professor and research director at Soniya College of Pharmacy in Dharwad, India.


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