Meditation has gotten a reputation over the years as a hippie practice requiring incense and the Grateful Dead.

While we at Lake Highlands Acupuncture can sing you every lyric to "Ripple," some of the most experienced meditators I know are devout Christians (Psalms 104:34: May my meditation be pleasing to Him, for I rejoice in the Lord.)

Others are atheists or agnostics. Meditation has no requirements, other than sitting in a chair for a little while. But why do it?

It could be your ticket to better health and reduced pain.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has always seen the body and the mind as inextricably linked. All this means is that the stuff going on in your head can affect what is going on in your body.

Your heart beats faster when someone cuts you off in traffic, or you’ve got a lot on your mind so you can’t sleep. Nothing new there.

The body-mind connection can work on a more subtle level too. For example, have you ever had a headache and then gotten wrapped up in a movie or a great conversation?

Sometimes, you forget you have a headache. In other words, intense focus altered how you experienced pain. In that same vein, modern researchers think that meditation helps retrain the brain’s perception of pain.

A 2011 study in The Journal of Neuroscience illustrated how a little over one hour of meditation instruction deactivated the pain-related brain centers in people who had never meditated before. That’s a pretty powerful finding.

When we think of the body making profound changes, we think of extreme events: “Well, of course that Olympian has a resting heart rate of 30. He’s run 20 miles a day for 5 years.”

But here we have proof that you can change the entire way your brain processes pain, just by sitting down and focusing for a few minutes each day. And it happens fast.

The benefits extend beyond pain though. According to Mayo Clinic, studies suggest that meditation may also be helpful with:

• allergies

• anxiety disorders

• asthma

• binge eating

• cancer

• depression

• fatigue

• heart disease

• high blood pressure

• irritable bowel syndrome

• sleep problems

• substance abuse

Other studies have shown promising effects on Parkinson’s, dementia, and other neurological conditions.

In our own backyard, a forthcoming study out of Texas Women’s University by Dr. Linda Csiza examines the effects of meditation on multiple sclerosis (MS) pain and fatigue, and the initial results are extremely promising.

Lake Highlands Acupuncture is glad to see modern research catching up with ancient Chinese medicine's view of an integrated mind and body.

LakeHighlandsAcupunctureMeditator

Emerson demonstrates a calming meditation he learned from Lake Highlands Acupuncture.