As Christian meditation and secular mindfulness meditation become popular, a growing number of well researched studies suggest that a person can receive multiple psychological and physical benefits to the ancient art.
Continued reviews and meta-analyses of documented research results highlight significant improved changes for the majority of participants. Meditation training has been reported to reduce stress, decrease anxiety, minimize pain, while enhancing overall physical health, quality of life, and mental health.
Although intuitively one may associate times of relaxation with better heath, the studies suggest that meditation provides longer lasting benefits than a vacation. An article published by the Journal of occupational health in 2009 exposes the investigative synthesis of top ranking doctors that although a vacation has a positive effect on health and well-being, it is on temporary.
A new study conducted with 91 female volunteers, all of whom were healthy and with no major health issues resulted in striking results. The meditation intervention consisted daily meditation, contemplative exercise, like yoga, and self-reflective exercises over a one week period. The volunteers were separated into three groups. Each group consisting of about 30 women: a group who attended the event as a vacation only, a group of inexperienced novices, and a final group of experienced meditators.
Using clinically-established questionnaires all groups showed statistical improvements in areas of stress and depression. On the surface it may seem that if a person simply took a vacation he, or she, may reap the same benefits as proficient participants.
The most important results came at the end of a ten month followup. Regular meditators still showed significant improved scores, the novice group analysis resulted in the highest scores, while “vacationers” scores dropped to baseline. Researchers reported that women in all groups were of equal age, employment status, income earning range, education level, and physically similar. The research indicates that previous findings of the temporary benefits vacation are only temporal, while meditation is a powerful therapy with the most positive long lasting effects.
So What About The Long Term Effects Of Meditation?
Blood samples were extracted before and after the week long study. Tests from all women shows remarkable improved changes in immune function with regular meditators displaying more interesting enhancements. Study author Eric Schadt, Ph.D., Director of the Icahn Institute at Mount Sinai explained the results like this:
“Regular meditators showed both the same types of ‘improvements’ at the molecular level as the others, but on top of that exhibited changes that were also associated with some aging/disease processes that also correlated with biomarkers of aging in a favorable direction. I think there is some suggestion there of improved healthy aging, so hopefully that motivates further study in this direction.”
The vacation experimentation was conduction on a relatively small number of of people, so it is noteworthy that more research is needed. But mounting evidence clearly signals that a meditative discipline has long lasting positive psychological and physical effects on the human body.
What About Christian Meditation?
As a regular reader you probably know that Christian meditation comes in two forms that unite in quiet time before the Lord. The first is a practice prescribed by Jesus himself. In John 14:23 Jesus describes that His true followers will “keep” His word. In other words we are to study, concentrate, and meditate on His word until it becomes the natural thought of the mind. That's how we keep His word.
The next is a method of breathing and concentrating on Jesus via a silent prayer mantra like, “Jesus” or Yes, Jesus”. Using both techniques unites us with the living word through whom we have access to God the Father, a concept edified by John 14:23, “We will dwell in you”.
Recalling that the vacation study included a time of self reflection and instruction which resulted in extraordinary results for the regular meditators we can draw a parallel to spending focused meditative time in the Bible. Deep study of scripture allows one to reflect deeply on God and one's personal life.
Proverbs 4:22 declares this about those who observe the word of God with profound intent: “For they are life to those who find them, and health to all their flesh.” Life and health to the flesh comes from one activity, genetics, and gene activity is controlled by molecular activity which was proven by Dr. Eric Schadt.
It seems that the study of science has taken nearly 3000 years to catch up to Bible revelations . Even better news is that although Dr. Schadt discovered molecular and genetic changes solely based on meditation and reflection. The Bible states that profound reflection on God's word is life, and life is Jesus (John 14:6) and that God's presence will increase in us if we “keep” or meditate on His word (John 14:23)
If God's presence and life increases in you will that change you molecular and genetic activity? It appears to be true. So go ahead, take a permanent vacation. Doctor's orders.
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