Health benefits of meditation

There’s been a lot of information in the media reporting the positive results of research into the health benefits of meditation in recent years. However, this new Huffington Post article gives an especially useful summary of them in an informative diagram (scroll down below the article).

Meditation, Practice

About Robert M Ellis

Robert M Ellis is the founder and chair of the Middle Way Society, and author of a number of books on Middle Way Philosophy, including the introductory 'Migglism' and the more in-depth 'Middle Way Philosophy' series. He has a Christian background, and about 20 years' past experience of practising Buddhism, but it was his Ph.D. studies in Philosophy that set him on the track of developing a systematic account of the Middle Way beyond any specific tradition. He has earned his living mainly by teaching, and more recently by online tutoring.

5 thoughts on “Health benefits of meditation

  1. The bit I liked best was the evidence supporting meditation as a way of “restructuring the brian”.

    I was thinking that meditation wasn’t working for me, but having read this I’ve changed my mnid.

  2. It is very difficult to know what lasting effects might have – it certainly feels like it does something positive, but then so can smoking! The evidence seems quite consistent in suggesting that are measurable benefits, and this also seems to be supported anecdotally.

    As meditation is supposed to be something that one does repeatedly over a long period of time the benefits may be subtle but incremental, meaning that they could be difficult to identify. However, in the short time that I have been meditating (about three years) there has been one quite drastic benefit, that for me makes meditation worth pursuing even if the evidence were to say that there was no other benefits. I have suffered from insomnia for about eight years, and found nothing that really helped (Horlicks and earplugs were the most effective). Meditation, on the other hand, has almost cured me. I know that it is the meditation, because if I stop meditating for a couple of weeks then the insomnia comes back with a vengeance – only to leave once I start meditating again. This effect, although it took a couple of years to cultivate, is now almost instant.

    1. Hi Peter and Rich, giving our minds a break from their endless activity does wonders, I certainly feel the benefits of meditation. I used to go to classes in Brighton, now I prefer to be at home.
      I have started to learn the moves in Chi Gung, with the help of a DVD, the teaching has been specifically designed for senior citizens. I understand that the excercises have health giving properties, I hope it will integrate my mind and body, and the moves become like a dance, that I can perform without having to think too hard about what I’m doing. One participant in the video was 90yrs. so no excuses for me!
      Robert, I hope the meditation class you have arranged to lead, is well attended.

      1. That sounds good, Norma. I tried Chi Gung classes myself (in a large mixed class with a very good teacher and her assistants) but the movements were too complex for me and I got rather bored with it. On the other hand, watching those who had mastered the technique was rather beautiful and looked worth working towards.

        I wonder if you’ve tried Zhan Zhuang (or Standing Like A Tree)? I practised this for almost a year, about a half hour daily, and felt enormous benefits mentally and physically. However, as far as my wife was concerned she thought the effects were equivocal – in her opinion I became more withdrawn, aloof and self-preoccupied. I discontinued the practice partly because of her observations, and partly because I felt stale. I think stopping also coincided with a recurrence of my cyclical tendency to black depression.

        I value my wife’s opinion of me and my temperament, and over the 40 or so years of our marriage I would say that she’s spot on in her judgement of that. She doesn’t rush to judgement either, she offers an opinion if I ask for it, and it’s always honest and objective, I think. My immediate family tend my psychospiritual condition with great care and kindness. Without them I would probably not have survived without some sort of human calamity, I’ve had several ‘near misses’.

        Although I have respect for meditators, and although I have meditated discontinuously for well over twenty years – simple sitting and watching the breath – I have not ‘progressed’ in the practice, and I sometimes wonder if it’s really “all it’s cracked up to be”. I have a strong allegiance to various forms of embodied awareness that I’ve developed over the years, many of them linked to nursing activities, and these are still my mainstay.

        My practice “Bibles” are a few simple texts by George Draffan (NaturalWareness.net), Will Johnson’s “Aligned,Relaxed, Resilient”, and Reginald Ray’s masterpiece “Touching Enlightenment – Finding Realisation in the Body”. All are worth a look, you may find. They’re all free of dogma, although they make reference to Buddhist teaching and practice here and there.

        I’m looking forward to the possibility of working with others (through local meetings) to share ideas, and to support each others’ endeavours in the Middle Way as pioneer co-migglers. Robert’s idea of a short course on Focusing is brilliant, and I do hope you’ll be a part of that. You have so much to offer, Norma.

        BTW I think Santa may deliver me a device I can use for on-line Skype meetings in the New Year, so I’m trying to be good in case his elves are doing the rounds in Essex, looking for good boys to reward on Christmas morning in the early hours………..

      2. Hi Peter, I read your thread with great interest, thank you for the recommendations, I will search for the authors you mentioned.
        No, I haven’t come across Zhan Zhuang, I’ll also look for DVDs of that online. The DVD I’m following is very simple to learn, a good start I think, it also teaches acupuncture points to massage. I have had acupuncture and found it helpful to relieve the tiredness I felt, after helping to nurse my sister in her last weeks, with her husband, at their home in Devon.
        I used to have depressions, when I sort of shut down, but just about managed to go to work and care for the family, a few in particular were serious episodes, although I was not formally diagnosed or treated as bi-polar. I was very fortunate to undergo six moths of talking therapy on the NHS, over twenty years ago now, since then I haven’t felt depressed, sad yes, which I’m sure you know, is totally different in character. Your wife sounds a wonderfully strong and loving partner. I would feel it a near ‘disaster’ to quote Elizabeth Bishop, without family ties to keep me going.
        Your plan to have local meetings and go a miggling, sounds a great thing to do, I wish you success. When Robert, Emilie and I had the Skype chat, Emilie and I said we would like to join the focussing class, if enough people joined to bring down the cost a little.
        I hope Santa is generous and you can Skype with us next year, I rambled on, said things about art which, with hindsight, I would revise, but enjoyed the experience. I commented that they were the nearest thing to being in the same room as you all, which for me may not be possible. Future discussions I expect will be more structured, using Robert’s advice on reading matter to work with, or a mixture of both would be lovely, general conversation about the Middle Way one week, then a more serious discussion another, even, may I suggest Robert, a meditation twenty minutes beforehand? … There is much to look forward to in 2014.

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