Meditation has not only been used as an important therapy for psychological and nervous disorders, from simple insomnia to severe emotional disturbances, but lately physicians have also prescribed it for curing various physical ailments as well. It is useful in chronic and debilitating diseases like allergies or arthritis, in which stress or hypersensitivity of the nervous system are involved. Regular meditation practices have also been known to help in dealing with pain and a number of painful diseases, whether chronic or acute. The act of meditation comes in useful because it helps the mind to detach itself from all material and physical attachments—and that is the ultimate cure for all diseases or at least the way to transcend them when we cannot avoid them.
Research has found meditation, especially Transcendental Meditation, to be extremely successful in treating physiological problems. Research on Transcendental Meditation has been conducted at more than 200 universities, hospitals, and research institutions in 27 countries. As a result, more than 500 research and review papers have been written covering a wide variety of physiological, psychological, and sociological effects.
Transcendental Meditation allows mental activity to settle down in a natural way while alertness is maintained and enhanced. Following Transcendental Meditation, individuals have reported feeling refreshed physically as well as mentally. The mind has become calmer and more alert, thinking clearer, and energy levels have increased. Those with busy schedules have noted that Transcendental Meditation brings increased efficiency in activity; time is used more effectively. When mental and physical well being are enhanced, personal relationships also improve, a commonly reported and valued benefit of Transcendental Meditation.
Physiological research has shown that Transcendental Meditation gives rise to a state of deep rest characterized by marked reductions in metabolic activity, increased orderliness and integration of brain functioning, increased cerebral blood flow and features directly opposite to the physiological and biochemical effects of stress. Taken together, these studies clearly distinguish the physiology of Transcendental Meditation from sleep or simple relaxation.
A review of research on behavioral therapy for hypertension concluded that Transcendental Meditation provides an optimal non-clinical treatment and preventive program for high blood pressure because the technique:
• produces rapid, clinically significant blood pressure reductions;
• is distinctly more effective than other meditation and relaxation procedures;
• is continued by a high proportion of subjects (in contrast to lower continuation rates for relaxation techniques and the frequent problem of poor compliance with anti-hypertensive drugs);
• has documented acceptability and effectiveness in a wide range of populations;
• is effective in reducing high blood pressure both when used as sole treatment and when used in concert with medication;
• reduces high blood pressure in `real life` environments outside the clinic;
• is free from harmful side-effects or adverse reactions;
• reduces other cardiovascular risk factors and improves health in a general way.
However, all forms of meditation are not good for everyone, any more than all foods or herbs are. For this reason both yoga and ayurveda recommends a proper lifestyle and an integral approach to meditation that considers both our different faculties as well as our individual nature.