One question beginning meditators tend to ask quite frequency is how does meditation actually work? Sure, we all know that it helps to reduce stress and anxiety and can be quite effective in lowering your blood pressure. But how?
Roger Dobson, in this latest Independent post, takes a look at numerous studies currently underway that hope to find out how and why meditation is effective in the treatment of depression, IBS, obesity, social anxiety, pain, insomnia, PMS, several chronic diseases, and multiple sclerosis.
According to Dobson, one reason just might be meditation’s effect on the body’s sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems; the way your body controls your fight or flight response to certain situations.
It has also been suggested that meditation might work by affecting the autonomic or involuntary nervous system, which regulates many organs and muscles, controlling functions such as heartbeat, sweating, breathing and digestion. It consists of the sympathetic nervous system, which prepares the body for action and the “fight-or-flight response”, where heart and breathing rates increase and blood vessels narrow, restricting the flow; and the parasympathetic nervous system, which causes the heart and breathing rates to slow, and blood vessels to widen, improving, blood flow. It is thought that meditation may reduce activity in the sympathetic nervous system and increase activity in the para-sympathetic system. More than 50 clinical trials are under way looking at the effects of meditation in various conditions, or at how it may work.
Read more on how meditation affects the parasympathetic nervous system here.