Medication and Meditation . . . What a difference a letter can make!

If you call your family physician to complain of an ailment, it’s not likely he or she will advise you to take deep cleansing breaths and settle into some mindful meditation. This kind of “prescription” may sound too vague and elusive to most people who prefer (or are accustomed to) instantly popping a pill for their headache, stomach pain or even anxiety and depression.

Featured Image: James Whitesmith / CC 2.0

But medication can often come with unpleasant side-effects, or worse, some potentially truly life-threatening ones. There’s a reason why some fast-talking stand-up comics do funny routines parodying the last ten seconds of the drug company’s commercials — they don’t want us to be able to hear some of the problems that traditional prescriptions might cause us.

Now let’s switch the “c” for a “t” and examine the risks that meditation might carry. Hmmm — well, unless you fear feeling a little silly or awkward at first, (until you get the hang of it) there aren’t any real physical threats to what I like to term, “nature’s own healer.”

Meditation has been proven to cause a shift in consciousness which in turn produces a shift in biology. When you’re peaceful and calm during meditation, you release chemicals such as serotonin, oxytocin, and dopamine which help stabilize the immune system and rejuvenate your energy. It also restricts the release of adrenaline and cortisol which are depleting to the body.

Meditation has also been shown to reduce the risk of stroke and cardiovascular disease by nearly 50% (American Heart Association, 2012) But that’s not all! Because I like to introduce creative ways to look at and remember things, here’s a list of benefits that meditation can bring you, ordered by the letters in the word “meditation!”

Minimizes the perception of physical pain. (Wake Forest University School of Medicine, 2010) [1]

Effectively helps to overcome anxiety, depression, anger and confusion. (Psychosomatic Medicine Journal) [2]

Digestion is improved and blood-pressure is lowered. (Harvard Medical School) [3]

Increases your focus and attention. (University of Wisconsin-Madison 2007) [4]

Tames daily stress. (US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health) [5]

Adds creativity so you’re more likely to think outside the box to problem solve. (ScienceDaily, 2012) [6]

Tangibly alters your breathing to promote a deep sense of relaxation. (Dartmouth College) [7]

Improves your sex life and increases your libido. (Journal of Sexual Medicine, 2009) [8]

Optimizes your mind for higher-level thinking and cognitive processing. (Harvard University Gazette, 2006) [9]

Normalizes and neutralizes mood-swings which can often accompany menopause or other hormonally challenged times of life.  (EOC Institute) [10]

So next time you’re hurting, it certainly won’t hurt (and it will definitely help!) to try meditating before medicating. You owe it to yourself to breathe easier.

 

RESOURCES:

[1] Shapiro, B (2010) Pain, Perception & Protocol, Wake Forest University School of Medicine pp. 81-89

[2] Edelstein, Bernard (2003)  Psychosomatic Medicine Journal pp. 1013-1022)

[3] http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/mindfulness-meditation-improves-connections-in-the-brain-201104082253

[4] http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/08/health/psychology/08medi.html?_r=0

[5] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3004979/

[6] http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120419102317.htm

[7] https://www.dartmouth.edu/~healthed/relax/

[8] Journal of Sexual Medicine (2009,) vol 6, n7, pp 2032-2038

[9] http://themindunleashed.org/2013/07/meditation-and-science-of-brainwaves.html

[10] http://eocinstitute.org/meditation/how-meditation-helps-those-with-bipolar-disorder/

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