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Meditation Balances the Body's Systems

The mind, heart, and body can improve with regular meditation.

Meditation Changes Brain in Good Ways

Monks who practiced Buddhist meditation had evidence of significantly greater brain activity, called gamma wave activity, in areas associated with learning and happiness compared with those who didn't practice meditation, according to a recent study. Gamma waves involve mental processes including attention, memory, learning, and conscious perception. The monks also showed higher activity in areas associated with positive emotions, like happiness.

"There's no doubt from the standpoint of research and my own clinical experience that meditation can reduce both the experience of pain and help people manage stress resulting from having pain," Chapman tells WebMD.

Meditation is a therapy offered in all comprehensive pain centers, he says.

How do you know if meditation is "working" - if your body is actually getting that relaxation response? If you get feelings of warmth, heaviness, and calm when you meditate, it mean that you've gone deep enough, says Chapman. It you just can't reach that level, enroll in a class, he suggests. "Sometimes it helps to have someone guide you, to help you know when you're making progress."

If meditation just doesn't seem to work, move on to another relaxation method, Benson advises. "Any practice that can evoke the relaxation response is of benefit, be it meditation, yoga, breathing, or repetitive prayer. There is no reason to believe that one is better than the other. The key is repetition, but the repetition can be a word, sound, mantra, prayer, breathing, or movement."

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Edited by Louise Chang, MD on March 01, 2006

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