Benefits of Meditation and Praying

I write this article because I do believe in the power of prayer. I have witnessed how prayer and mediation have provided physical and mental healing. Especially nowadays when the world has to go through lots of changes and chaotic situations and when people feel despair or sorrow, I recommend that we turn to prayer in hope it will ease our stress or grief. Why? Because a prayer will be able to make us calm and soothe our spirits, as we will have something to hold on to.

Some of you may have a deep religious faith, hoping prayer will amazingly rescue you in time of hardship or difficulty. In fact, prayer, in one way or another, will heal us spiritually. Prayer together with meditation will effectively improve everyone’s health. You will be surprised that prayer has actually many more benefits. Prayer can actually improve your physical health, which can be scientifically proved. To elaborate, prayer is a kind of meditation, and meditation of any sort can be an invaluable aid in keeping one mentally and physically grounded.

There have been lots of studies by scientists confirming the impact of prayer on the heart and brainwaves. The study results showed that most people who had meditated for years would experience a state of physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing. Recent scientific and medical studies have evidenced that those with diabetes, cancer, HIV/Aids, showed positive results. Those with diabetes have lower levels of blood sugar after months of moving meditation practices.

Meditation is also helpful for patients with high blood pressure, and cardiovascular disease. In cancer patients, it resulted in the decrease of white blood cells and cancer cells. Patients with psychosomatic disorders also improved through laughing meditation. Yoga meditation was found helpful for street children and prison inmates. It helped them to reduce the use of drugs, by healing their insomnia, increasing their appetite, and lessening their worries. For patients who suffered from burns, meditation helps them sleep better, boost their spirits, and ease their physical and mental wounds.

Meditation can be interpreted in many ways: it is a religious psychology, a relaxation technique, and a mind-body medicine which has an effect on the human’s psychoneuroimmunology. It is recommended that you should practice how to control and train the five senses – sight, sound, smell, touch and taste – along with body movement, as they will have certain effects on the functions of the central nervous system, peripheral nervous system, autonomic nervous system, immune system, cardiovascular system, and limbic system which control human emotions and behavior.

No one can argue that when our body and mind work in perfect harmony, it will result in the balance of our body and nerve cells. When you pray, you will focus your mind and spirit on an external object such as the changed mantra, or a word/phrase, church music, a peaceful scene or image, a candle, or even a set of pray beads. As a result, you are bridged to inner stillness, and will be moved deeper into the next phase of meditation.

Since you have focused on the words or phrases from a mantra or any object when praying, it will trigger two changes in the nervous system, depending on the speed of praying. If you pray at a fast speed, it will accelerate the function of the sympathetic nervous system which works to speed up the heart. The result of fast prayer will be like that of running, jogging or aerobic exercises. What you’ll get is a substance called beta-endorphin, which promotes a feeling of happiness, but it won’t lead to calmness because in the process, your metabolism is also high.

I recommend that you do it in a slow rhythm so the nerve signals will register at the right part of the brain. In addition to beta-endorphin that creates a sense of happiness, slow praying will relax the central nervous system. When you pray slowly and repeatedly, the process will reduce glutamate acid, which is a workhorse neurotransmitter of the brain, while increasing “Gaba” (Gamma Amino Butyric Acid) that helps to control the sensory perception of what’s going on around us. When Gaba increases, your sensory perceptions will be better controlled, and the brain will begin to relax.

Your frustration will be calmed down, and your aggression will weaken. This occurs after you continue praying for 10 minutes. After 15 minutes of praying, the brain will send signals to the body, making cells begin to relax. You will surprisingly feel your worries are eased. At the same time, the parasympathetic nervous system, which initiates responses associated with rest and energy conservation, will function better.

This allows the hypothalamus, which is responsible for maintaining a regulation of blood pressure, heart rate and temperature, to function efficiently. It will make you a calmer while stimulating the secretion of several neurotransmitters and pituitary hormones. These include serotonin which works to ease stress and acetylcholine that boosts short-term memory, thus causing you to have good consciousness. Serotonin is a precursor to melatonin, a miracle hormone that works like an elixir. It helps human cells live longer and induces a fair, glowing complexion.

The hypothalamus will also inhibit the production of a hormone called dopamine which helps for the healing of Parkinson’s disease and arginine vasopressin that regulates the kidneys’ function. At the same time, it reduces the production of the stress hormone cortisol, thus boosting a person’s immunity, and decreases the production of adrenalin and noradrenalin, helping to slow the cardiac function. As a result, cardiac patients will have relaxed muscles and become less tired. When you continue praying for 20-30 minutes, free-radicals will also be excreted from cell membranes. If you pray with the right method, your muscles will relax, you will breathe slowly and your heart beat will slow. The waste in your body cells will be released.

However, praying for healing is, to a certain degree, different from praying for religious faith. In religious prayer, you chant several long mantras for the worship of a god or the sacred deities. But to pray for healing, the mantra should be cut short and recited repeatedly. The chanting mantra can be compared to music therapy in a way that they carry short and repeated phrases. Yet music therapy works slower than praying, because the signal that gets into your ear will work more slowly than the one registered through your speech. Also, note that not every prayer will get all those beneficial substances and hormones. If you are interrupted in the middle of the prayer, you can’t obtain the full benefit.

In sum, prayer is a kind of still meditation, yet moving meditation gives better result. When you pray, it involves three functions – the mouth when you chant, ear as you hear the chanting, and eyes are closed. But in moving meditation, you will have to control more of your functions. The more you can control them, the better you can balance your mind and body.

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