“The purpose of meditation is to help the practitioner to reach a deep understanding of reality, that vision that is able to free us from fear, anxiety and melancholy and can generate understanding and compassion in us, improve the quality of our life and give freedom, peace and joy to ourselves and those around us” (Thich Nhat Hanh).
According to a recent study published in the Journal of Neuroscience, meditation would be able to decrease pain by an average of 40% with peaks of 90%, while painkillers usually reach 25%. In fact, the countless beneficial effects of meditation have been known for some time. This practice has in fact proved to be a valuable aid in alleviating psychological and physical symptoms and useful in preventing or delaying the evolution of various diseases.
What does it mean to practice meditation?
“Meditation” means generating the energy of mindfulness, maintaining concentration. Therefore, the practice of meditation requires keeping the mind completely free from the stimuli of the surrounding environment, in order to reach a state of attention or awareness. Thus the mind is free to accept any sensation, idea, image or vision, letting associations flow over all aspects of the object or thought, to understand its shape, profile, color, essence. “… Feel your abdomen expand when you inhale, feel it contract when you exhale. There is nothing to accomplish, nothing to achieve. Note thoughts, sensations, perceptions; Do not attack or reject them: just observe them, keep breathing…” (Claude Anshin Thomas).
It is, therefore, the art of observing without thinking, without criticizing intellectually. It is possible to meditate sitting, walking, standing or lying down, therefore also carrying out the normal activities of daily life. The ultimate goal is to make sure that you learn to be present here and now, whatever you are doing.
What happens at a physiological level in our body when we meditate?
According to the oncologist Paolo Lissoni the practice of meditation would be effective, for example, for the prevention and treatment of tumors thanks to a hormone of well-being (melatonin), which during this practice increases.
In fact, when you meditate, the body relaxes, the mind calms down, the breath slows down and it happens that:
- at the brain level decreases the activity of thoughts and emotions and all incoming signals, and slower and deeper electrical waves similar to those that regulate sleep appear;
- in the blood increase the hormones of well-being such as melatonin or serotonin, while those of stress, cortisol and adrenaline decrease;
- decrease lipids in the carotid artery that carries blood to the brain;
- heartbeat, vessel movements, lymphatic flow harmonize;
- decreases muscle tension.