Anti-Cancer by Dr. David Servan-Schreiber explains much of the science behind the connection between stress reduction, cancer, biological rhythms and meditation:
NIH researchers Julian Thayer and Esther Sternberg published a 2006 review in The Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences showing that coherence of biological rhythms is associated with better functioning of the immune system, reduction of inflammation, and better regulation of blood sugar levels, all of which act against the development of cancer.
According to Dr. Linda Carlson at the University of Calgary, after only 8 weeks of meditation, breast and prostate cancer patient’s white blood cell counts and natural killer cells increased to normal levels.
Dr. Matthieu Ricard, PhD found that during meditation, brain rhythms oscillate in harmony and this lasts well beyond the meditation session.
Dr. Keith Block at the Block Integrative Cancer Treatment Center maintains, “A daily practice that produces the body’s relaxation response can yield the following biomedical benefits”:
- Decreases elevated heart rate, blood pressure, and oxygen consumption
- Enhances immune system factors by increasing the number and activity of natural killer cells
- Reduces inflammation
- Helps regulate glucose response
- Diminishes stress hormones adrenaline, noradrenaline and cortisol
- Assists desirable DNA repair mechanisms
- Inhibits cancer promoting gene expression.
Learning to meditate is actually quite easy. Get comfortable and close your eyes. Breathe slowly and deeply from your diaphragm, progressively relaxing each of the muscles in your body while focusing on your breathing for 10 to 20 minutes each day. When thoughts come, (and they will), simply go back to focusing your attention on your breath.
You can also repeat a “mantra” like “Ave Maria,” or any repetitive word pattern that is soothing to you.
Dr. Luciano Bernardi of the University of Pavia in Italy explored stress and body rhythm fluctuations. He found that while meditating, if his subjects recited a string of “Ave Maria’s in Latin, their stress levels decreased and all their biological rhythms, like heart rate, blood pressure, breathing etc. lined up to create a harmonious pattern. The same thing happened when he had his subjects recite the best-known Buddhist mantra Om Mani Padme Hum.
Check out this website for more beginner Meditation 101 tips. Then enjoy the wonderful feeling of complete relaxation while meditating.