When Meditation Can Be Useful

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Stress is responsible for many lost working days due to mental and/or physical illness. It has been scientifically proven that meditation can lower blood pressure, help recovery from illness and prevent illnesses by strengthening the immune system.


Uncontrolled pressure resulting in stress symptoms is one of the main reasons why people seek help from Antonia at Alpha Waves.

IT’S ALL IN THE MIND! Well….sometimes it is, but you can be sure that whatever happens inside your head is directly reflected in the state of your body.

The reverse is also true, but that is a different story.

I will refer to ‘body/mind’ in this article so that you know that any one part of you will be responding to every other part of you, such as emotions, thought patterns, body posture, immune system, etc. This happens in a real live situation or just when you are imagining a stressful, fearful time.

As a simplistic but true example, think of a time where you might have heard or read a truly scary and believable story. I am sure that you would have felt fear (emotion), you breathing would have altered, and your heartbeat would have beaten more beats to the minute. All of this happens in a split second and nothing happened in reality…you just listened to a tale!

Wherever your thoughts go your body will respond accordingly. If the mind is restless and out of control because of stress, you body will suffer.


The stress reactions in the body are a result of the Fight and Flight syndrome. It is in fact the body/mind protecting itself, so that it can cope with any acute dangerous event that might occur. It is a response that goes back to ancient man (and woman!). Nowadays this response is, generally speaking, an out of date reaction. Where in the distant past we might have had to deal with hunting or running away from a dangerous animal, these days our stressors are far more insidious and chronic, rather than acute and immediate.

However our body/mind doesn’t distinguish between acute or chronic stress and during a stressful time the body is flooded with ACTH, the stress hormone, ready to defend itself or to run away-hence the term Fight or Flight.

After a real or imaginary stressor has affected the body, the body then has to work hard to cope with these powerful hormones that flood the body and have nowhere to go. Over time it finds it hard to restore balance and normality again.

After prolonged chronic stress or very acute stress the body often can’t cope and physical or mental illness follows.

When the body gets ready to fight or run away it prepares for danger by, for example:

  • Shutting off the digestive system. That is why we often have a dry mouth when under stress. The stomach stops digesting food and acid is still produced, hence the chance of stomach ulcers and other digestive problems.
  • Adding a clotting agent to the blood, so that in case of physical injury the blood will clot and the body will heal quicker. If this happens regularly people develop cardiac problems and circulation problems.
  • Tightening the skeletal muscles ready for action. Over time this becomes habitual and there is a chance of muscular and skeletal deformity and pain, such as back and neck pain.
  • Increasing the blood supply to the brain for quick emergency thinking. This will ultimately leave a person confused, with loss of memory, light headed, headachy, having panic attacks and mood swings. Too much ‘thinking’ also disturbs sleeping patterns.
  • The list could go on!



Government figures suggest that at least 40 million hours a year are lost due to stress and it costs medical and social services an estimated £55 million per year. I believe that this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Many people won’t admit to suffering from the effects of uncontrolled pressure, because it is still seen as some kind of weakness. In many cases admittance of this can affect promotion at work.

Pressure is cumulative, i.e. it adds up to dangerous stress, unless it is released. Meditation is a perfect way of doing this. There are many different methods and we will help you to discover which one is specifically right for you.


Herbert Benson, a Harvard Professor, has been researching the effects of relaxation techniques on people since the 1960s. He researches the effects of meditation by looking at the effects of a simple meditation form over a period of time.

He found that people who practised this very simple relaxation technique for 20 minutes twice a day:

  • did not suffer the stress reaction their peers suffered
  • had better sleeping patterns
  • became measurably physically younger than their peers.
  • had a stronger bone structure
  • had a healthier cardiac system
  • had a  mental state that was much more stable
  • had stronger, healthier teeth!
  • had much more energy than others. And much more

In fact research shows that meditators are physically younger than their peers!

Professor Benson has written many respected papers on the subject and a popular reading is his book ‘The Relaxation Response’,  ISBN0-00-626148-5.

He also found that:

Oxygen consumption went down 20% during the first 3 minutes of meditation

Oxygen consumption goes down during sleep by 8%, but only after 4-5 hours sleep.

Alpha brain waves are present during meditation and not during sleep.

In Britain Dr. Chandra Patel has completed an enormous amount of research with patients, many of whom had high blood pressure and cardiac disease. She found that by teaching the patients a simple relaxation/ meditation technique, they could measurably lower their blood pressure.

She used Biofeedback to measure the actions of the autonomic nervous system, such as heart beat, blood pressure, skin temperature and brain wave pattern. (See Fighting Heart Disease. Dr Chandra Patel. DK London ISBN 0-86318-165-1)

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