Is meditation a means to improve health? Does meditation practice lead to good health? Meditation as a state of being does not necessarily bring good health, but tends toward it. It provides a fertile ground in which the seeds of good health can grow. Practices can lead directly to better health; but for that to happen, what is gained through practice must be applied in thinking and activity.
Meditation does have healthy side effects. Through sitting quietly, relaxing, balancing of the breath and its flowing through the body; and by taking on the "quiet open mind", there is a greater mental and spiritual balance and harmony. This is reflected in greater peace, relaxation, and harmony within the body. These are by-products. Better health is found in the integration of body, mind, and spirit; and meditation aids in the process.
Are there practices that can be done specifically to increase health? Yes, there are; and some follow in this article. These practices are concentrations and visualizations. In meditation there is a natural integration and balancing of the breath, mind, and body. When one adds the element of spirit, it becomes complete. So in seeking good health, we try to remember that there are many components. Focusing on one alone will not achieve the result of good health; and excess of one or more will not result in balance.
One of the secondary benefits of meditation is increased intuition and clarity. That includes a sense of what it right for us at any particular time. There are many approaches to better health. It is right to use the methods that work for you when they are appropriate. Just as taking vitamins is useful and appropriate in one circumstance; it can cause disharmony or ill-health if used in excess or at the wrong time. This greater clarity of feeling and sense helps you to apply these approaches or methods appropriately.
Are there physical effects of meditation? Yes, and some of these have been well documented. There is a calming and slowing of the heartbeat and respiration. There is relaxation, so less tension and anxiety. There is an increased feeling of well-being, lessening depression. Better balance and harmony are reflected in better digestion. There is an increase in energy and vitality, the lessening of a tendency toward sickness, and quicker healing. There is a dropping away of self-destructive habits and addictive behavior as the positive unfolds through meditation - especially when it contains elements of the spirit. However, from a spiritual point of view, we do not seek these effects so much as to recognize them as part of the more inclusive goal of integration into and harmony with life.
Here are some practices related to health, harmony, and the body. They are part of integrating body, mind, breath, and spirit; and while more useful as part of a larger practice of growth or development; they can be used to improve health. Being able to concentrate is needed to do them. If your mind wanders, bring it gently back to what you are doing.
Breathing: This is very simple. Breathe in all the peace you can and then breathe out all the peace you can. Let it penetrate all that you are. Let the quality fill you and flow through you and out. Become it as much as you can. Breathe it out as far as you can. Do the same with joy, harmony, and love.
Calming: Feel a blue/green healing light descending into and through you from the head down through the feet. On each in breath it calms, fills, and flows through you more and more, until you bathe in it. On your out breath it flows away all tension.
Regeneration and Affirmation: (It is very helpful to become familiar with the structure of the body using books with overlays of the body systems). Do this at night lying down. Each structure of the body has a corresponding color and tone. Should you sense one, feel the healthy tone and color getting stronger. If you sense any dis-ease, let that dissipate. Accept that health with replace it. Start at the feet. Put all your attention there. With your eyes closed, "look" at your toes and feel and see them healthy. Put your attention there. Examine them one by one. Then look inside them at the bones, blood vessels, nerves, muscles, etc. See and feel them healthy and getting stronger and having more vitality. Do this throughout you entire body, moving from feet to head, including all your organs. Expand to include all your body at once. Accept Health.
Cleansing: Feel and see a white light being drawn in to the center of the body on the in-breath and cleaning it. The light penetrates the entire body clearing impurities. On the out-breath it expands from the body and cleans it.
Purification: Slow down your breath. Clear your mind of thoughts. Refine your breath. Surround yourself with silence. Just be aware of your breath. Become conscious of contraction as you inhale and expansion as you exhale. Concentration as you inhale, radiation as you exhale. With the exhalation expel all the polluted magnetism from your being. Reach out as far as you can go and draw in cosmic energy as you inhale. Draw magnetism into your solar plexus as you inhale. As you breathe out, breathe from the center of the heart, radiating into the entire universe, broadcasting magnetism, warmth, love, understanding, and energy, like the sun.