Neuroscience is increasingly showing how the spirit is able to heal our bodies.
The soul, through meditation, can change the biological structure of the body and help it overcome illness.
Herbert Benson’s studies show that meditation can modify and depotentiate health-threatening cell sequences. Benson analysed the genetic (DNA) profiles of 26 volunteers – none had ever meditated on a regular basis – and then started them on a regular relaxation technique lasting 10-20 minutes.
After eight weeks, he analysed the volunteers’ genetic profiles again: the results showed that sequences of genes important for health became more active, while sequences of potentially harmful genes became less dangerous.
The changes occurred within minutes of the start of relaxation.
Sara Lazar, a neuroscientist at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, was one of the first scientists to affirm the benefits of meditation in reducing stress by testing brain scan images. She found that meditation not only reduces stress, but also shapes our brains. In one of her studies, Lazar compared brain images of people who practiced meditation with another group from a similar social environment, but who did not practice meditation, and found that there was an increase in the amount of grey matter in people who meditated, especially in the pre-frontal cortical area of the brain, an area associated with memory and decision-making.
A team of psychiatrists at Massachusetts General Hospital demonstrated how meditation can affect the brain, particularly in brain regions related to memory, self-awareness, empathy, and stress.
They analysed MRI scans of the brain structures of 16 volunteers before and after following a stress-reducing meditation programme for eight weeks.
The analysis showed an increase in grey matter density in the hippocampus, important for memory and learning, and in other structures associated with self-awareness and compassion.
Two psychologists, Vladimir Bostanov and Philipp Keune, measured the spirit’s healing action on the human body by means of a neurological examination of the brain – measuring the electrical activity of brain cells – of subjects under investigation before and after a meditation course.
The results of this study showed that the brain significantly increased its reactivity after the eight-week meditation course. The brains of the subjects who worked meditatively had learnt not to continuously brood, directing the freed attention resources by focusing on the test.
“Meditating helps patients control their attention”, said Dr. Keune, “and makes them less prone to getting lost in negative thoughts”.
A 2014 study highlighted the beneficial effects of meditation in preventing and combating dementia.
Chronic stress is common in people with cognitive impairment and is a cause of both the development and progression of the disease.
Stress results in reduced synaptic plasticity, reduced survival and ability of neurons to regenerate, and also causes negative changes in the hippocampus, prefrontal cortex and other brain structures. All these changes can profoundly affect mood, sleep, memory, cognitive dysfunction and increase the risk of dementia.
THE BENEFITS OF MEDITATING WHILE CONTEMPLATING NATURE
1) Medical benefits Simply observing Nature can help our bodies heal faster. Literature states that patients in hospital recover sooner and feel less pain if they have access to the sights, sights and sounds of Nature. Observing and listening to natural scenery has positive effects on health recovery and enables a better quality of life.
2) Emotional benefits Every day life requires us to have high levels of concentration in order to carry out daily actions, whether at home, in the family or at work. This can cause irritability, tiredness and stress. Nature can help improve overall well-being, providing a real restorative effect. The benefits of spending time outdoors are evident on both adults and youngsters.
3) Therapeutic benefits According to the latest research, direct contact with nature can offer support that should not be underestimated for those suffering from disorders such as anxiety or depression. In some educational institutions, teachers are encouraged to spend time outdoors with hyperactive children so that they can concentrate more in class and in other activities during the day. In the case of serious illnesses, eco-therapy can be a valuable support to normal treatment.