Many religious traditions believe that one through meditation can cause a positive disturbance into the cosmos and tap into the natural healing energy. Some cultures call this Chi. While this is only an Eastern belief, meditation from a secular point of view can also elicit responses through the Relaxation Response to help heal the body. In fact, whichever religious tradition, the utilization of meditation within the particular creed seems to all cause the Relaxation Response.
In previous blogs and articles, we know that the Relaxation Response is the opposite of the Fight or Flight Response. The Relaxation Response reverses the blood pressure, higher heart rate, and heavier breathing caused by the sympathetic nervous system in time of physical need, or stress. Adrenaline is pumped into the body during physical emergencies to enable the body to better react to the issue at hand, however, this response is more damaging when responding to only emotional and mental stresses of the modern world. Hence, anxiety and stress can cause an array of physical ailments to the heart and blood pressure.
The ability of the mind via meditation and breathing to induce the Relaxation Response is key to healing. It is only doubled when combined with the faith factor. Positive vibes and beliefs through meditation and even basic mindset can produce within the body multiple cures over minor issues and also maintain optimal health. Likewise, negative beliefs and lack of faith can lead to physical ailments. The mind body connection is real and the ability to control the negative responses of the body to stress as well as produce healthier mental images, is key to overall health.
Does this mean one should never go to the doctor but only procure a healthy mindset? Definitely not, but Herbert Benson in “Beyond the Relaxation Response” believes that a healthy mindset and faith factor tied to meditation can procure within the Relaxation Response a more general bill of health, as well as better responses to illness. He reviews the importance of the placebo effect for both positive and negative results.
One can see through studies and throughout history, the power of the mind in helping someone recover from an illness, likewise, the power of the mind to produce illness. Meditation and the Relaxation Response with a strong faith factor reveals that many individuals are able to control negative responses from the Sympathetic Response system and maintain better health in part by preventing illness as well as aiding the body heal itself. A person with a positive mindset and faith factor has a better chance of healing or overcoming a major operation and illness than one with a negative.
Part of this is the placebo effect of the medication. Many medications are strengthened by the belief of the person. Furthermore, a strong trust in the physician who is optimistic can help trigger a better faith factor which can help a patient recover faster. In many cases, medications produce more side effects than good, and the faith factor and optimistic view is strong enough to help someone. It is important to know if the medication one is on is completely necessary for health and wellness.
The faith factor is just a religious ideal but one that places faith in something, whether it be God, medication, a physician or one’s own ability to heal. It is a critical element in self healing and overall mental, emotional and physical health. Through the studies on meditation, we clearly see a connection between mind and body and vice versa. The mind has an ability to control many of our responses, including heartbeat and blood pressure, it also has the ability to aid the body in recovery with positive imagery. This is not a cure all. While mental positive images can help, they cannot overcome certain obstacles or devastating disease or injury, but they can help the body recover and maintain itself.
It is important to procure this type of positive attitude and with a strong faith factor, coupled with meditation and the triggering of the Relaxation Response, one can better achieve better health and a more peaceful life in response to stress and anxiety.
Anxiety looks to tear into the body causing a brutal cycle where the body is forced to respond to a physical threat that is not present. By eliminating this cycle through the Relaxation Response, one is able to lower breathing, heart rate and blood pressure and allow the body to relax from the hormonal onslaught. Remember, it is about how we view stress, cope with it, and our overall outlook on life that helps prepare us to handle these stresses. Through meditation we are able to heal the body from stress and prepare it to handle it later.
For purposes of the review, the steps are simple. Find a quiet place, focus on breathing, find an object or mental image to dwell upon, use a mantra or prayer to stay on path and avoid distractions and maintain a passive mind. These steps are part of almost every religious tradition. While religious traditions may have different spiritual ends, they all through meditation induce a particular physical reaction which is beneficial to the body. That response is the Relaxation Response.
If you would like to learn more, please review Herbert Benson’s revolutionary work on meditation. If you would like to earn a certification in Meditation Instruction, then please review AIHCP’s Meditation Instructor Program and see if it meets your academic and professional goals. The program is online and independent study and open to qualified professionals seeking a four year certification in Meditation Instruction.
Also, feel free to review AIHCP’s Stress Management Consulting Program which also closely ties to meditation and its uses as a way to monitor and overcome stress.