Friday, February 16, 2007

New Harvard report

I love it how these reports regularly come out that tell us what we already know about meditation! Take a look:
BOSTON, Feb. 14 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Exercises that elicit the relaxation response can help your body erase the cumulative effects of stress, according to "Stress Management: Techniques for Preventing and Easing Stress," a new report from Harvard Medical School. The report explains that stress has been linked with such physical problems as heart attack, stroke, gastrointestinal problems and asthma, as well as emotional problems like depression, anxiety and an inability to enjoy life.

The relaxation response, the opposite of the stress response, is a state of profound rest and release. A number of physiological changes occur during the relaxation response. When a person meditates, for example, heartbeat and respiration slow down. The body uses less oxygen and produces less carbon dioxide. Blood lactate levels, which some researchers believe are linked with anxiety attacks, decline markedly. Blood pressure tends to stabilize in healthy individuals and drop significantly in people with hypertension. Studies have shown that this decrease in blood pressure persists with regular meditation.

Meditation is only one way to elicit the relaxation response. Other methods include deep breathing exercises, yoga, tai chi and repetitive prayer. What's crucial is that the method enables a person to interrupt everyday thoughts by focusing on a word, phrase, prayer or repetitive muscular activity. The report recommends practicing relaxation techniques once or twice a day, for a total of 10 to 20 minutes daily. Evidence suggests the more often a person practices these techniques, the better the outcome.
Common sense, people. Common sense!

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