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A 20 Minute Vacation: The Amazing Health Benefits of Meditation

by Richard and Mary Maddux for

Meditation is gaining mainstream acceptance as a beneficial preventive health program. Once thought of as only for eastern monks practicing in remote caves in the mountains of India, today everyone from busy executives to students are enjoying the practical results of daily meditation.

Meditation is one of the better-studied alternative therapies, and it has been shown to provide a wide range of health benefits. More and more doctors and hospitals are recommending meditation as an effective stress buster and useful support for patients of heart disease and many other chronic and acute conditions.

Meditation can help you "Take a 20 Minute Vacation" without physically going anywhere. Plus it is proven to provide a range of excellent health benefits such as preventing premature aging and lowering cholesterol ... and with today's "meditation technologies" that you will read about below, meditating is much easier than you may think!

The effectiveness of meditation comes from the fact that one can achieve a state of deep relaxation in just a few minutes. When we settle down into a state of deep relaxation, the body and mind are refreshed and revitalized. This gives us many good effects that are both immediate and long lasting.

Health Benefits of Regular Meditation Include:

  • Lower Blood Pressure
  • Better Sleep
  • Anti-aging
  • Less Anxiety
  • Faster healing
  • Decreased substance abuse
  • Lower Cholesterol
  • Stronger Immune Response

Meditation, Stress and a Healthy Heart

The results above have been demonstrated in many rigorous scientific studies, a few of which are mentioned below. Researchers have found that meditation lowers levels of stress hormones. In fact, by decreasing the level of one such hormone -- epinephrine -- meditation has been shown to reduce the amount of cholesterol in the blood and therefore help arteries to remain clear. Reduction of stress hormones also supports the healthy functioning of the immune system.

This reduction in stress hormones may be explained by the relaxed state that comes about through meditation. Electroencephalograph (EEG) studies of the brain in those who are meditating show that meditation boosts the intensity of alpha waves -- associated with quiet, receptive states -- to levels not seen even during sleep. This relaxed state combats anxiety, and this is confirmed by research which has found lowered levels of lactic acid in the blood. (High levels of lactic acid are associated with anxiety.) Another effect of meditation is that breathing slows, so the body uses less oxygen.

Meditation has been found to be particularly helpful for the heart. Meditators have been found to have improved blood circulation, as well as a lowered heart rate, which places less demands on the heart.

A 1998 study published in Psychosomatic Medicine showed that people who practiced transcendental meditation (TM) had lower levels of lipid peroxide than those who didn't. Lipid peroxide can contribute to atherosclerosis and other chronic diseases associated with aging. A 1999 study published in the same journal showed that people who practiced TM had lower blood pressure immediately after meditating than did the control group.

Help for Fibromyalgia, Psoriasis, IBS, and More

A 1998 study in Alternative Therapies showed that meditation helped decrease symptoms such as pain and sleeplessness in patients with fibromyalgia, a disease characterized by muscle pain, fatigue, and mild-to-moderate depression.

In a 1998 study at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center, psoriasis patients who listened to a mindfulness meditation audiotape during their ultraviolet light therapy experienced faster healing than those who had the light therapy alone.

Meditation has also been associated with a longer life span, better quality of life, fewer hospitalizations, and reduced health-care costs. It has also shown promise as an adjunct therapy in relieving mild depression, insomnia, tension headache, irritable bowel syndrome, and premenstrual syndrome (PMS), as well as in controlling substance abuse.

Meditation is Easier Than You Think!

With such overwhelming evidence of the benefits of meditation, why isn't everyone meditating?

Often the obstacle is that meditation is thought to be difficult and requiring years of practice to become "good at it." The reality is that there are many different styles of meditation and many are very easy to learn and bring benefits from the start. Some people even find ways to meditate on their own, setting aside a quiet time to sit and "simply be." Usually, however, some instruction is needed.

There are books, CDs, classes, and websites which offer instruction in meditation. There are many different styles of meditation, and finding the right meditation for you may take some trial and error. It's important to find a method which feels natural, easy and relaxing.

An excellent way to experience the benefits of meditation without having to learn a specific practice is to use a guided meditation CD. We designed our Pure Relaxation CD [B1] to offer an easy way for anyone to experience the "meditative state" in which the mind "lets go" and the body relaxes. Tested and recommended by members of the National Health & Wellness Club, this highly acclaimed CD has given many people an easy way to relax.

The essence of successful meditation is relaxation. The health benefits can easily be seen to result from a state of relaxation in mind and body. Anything that you can do which relaxes you deeply can be thought of as meditation. Whatever way you choose, we encourage you to start and wish you peace of mind and the very best of health! columnist Mary Maddux has worked in the healing arts in both conventional and alternative settings. With an MS in clinical social work, she has worked as a counselor, helping people cope with the stresses of life. While working as a hospice counselor, she was introduced to various alternative healing arts. She eventually developed a healing arts practice and has taught many workshops.

She and husband Richard are producers of two renowned CDs, Sleep Easy: Guided Meditation for Deep Rest , and Pure Relaxation: Guided Meditations for Body, Mind & Spirit . Mary is the "voice" of these CDs while Richard, an accomplished composer of music for meditation with 20 years experience, created the music.

The #1 Recommended Relaxation CD ... by Meditation Expert
(and Author of this Article) Mary Maddux with
Meditation Music Expert Richard Maddux

Relaxation CD
  • Eliminate Stress Immediately
  • Calm Your Mind
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  • Create a State of Deep Relaxation in Your Body
  • Complete Relaxation in a Natural, Effortless Way
  • Mary Maddux's Voice has been Called "Soothing and Healing"
  • Background Music by Respected Meditation Music Veteran Richard Maddux
  • Over 70 Minutes Long
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"I'd been looking for a CD for our cardiac, pulmonary, diabetes and weight management patients to use on their own to help them practice relaxation techniques. I was delighted to find the Pure Relaxation CD -- it's a winner! The voice and music, combined with the gentle simplicity of the meditations, is extremely effective. Thank you for coming up with a perfect format that can accommodate a variety of schedules, ages, and backgrounds."

-- Sarah Mozelle, MA, CHT Lifestyle Management Coach & Health Educator, Dominican Hospital, Santa Cruz, CA

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