THE BLOG

Meditation Instead of Medication

10/15/2013 06:00 pm ET | Updated Jan 23, 2014

In many parts of the world, evidence shows that meditation has been around for thousands of years. Some scholars even believe the ancient cave paintings in Spain and France depict meditators as far back as 14,000 B.C. From the sages of old to modern gurus, across the globe, we have been told that meditation has far reaching healing powers, both psychological and physical. There have been tons of articles, blogs, emails and pop-up ads that proclaim meditation can reduce stress, depression and blood pressure, alleviate eating disorders and anxiety and actually make you more intelligent.

I've witnessed the calm demeanor that surrounds lifelong meditators, including myself, but as a practicing skeptic, I crave scientific proof as well, that the behavior is directly related to meditation. Now, thanks to brain scan imaging, we have solid, visual evidence that differences in the brain do occur. Neuroscientists have shown us the magic of neuroplasticity, the ability of a brain to realign and reinterpret the outside world.

Have you ever reacted poorly towards a friend or family member, only to regret your reaction later, thinking, "I should have been more understanding, more patient, more lovable." If, by meditating, you became slower to anger and quicker to love, how might that affect your relationships?

How many distractions do we live with today? Diversions include smart phones, laptops, iTunes, Netflix, social media and texting, to name a few. What if, in the midst of all this, you could maintain more focus? How would that affect your future?

Science is wonderful. But brain scans cannot show how the heart changes. I heard a news piece on NPR this month, describing a program called, Honoring the Path of the Warrior. Based in Northern California, they offer meditation retreats to returning combat veterans, most suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. I clicked on their website and discovered this statement which deeply touched my heart. The words were written by a participating soldier. He wrote, "The experience of the mindfulness/meditation and events afterward have inspired me to practice taking a small respite every day. I encourage any veteran to participate in these events that give a battered mind a place to heal." -- Mike Smith, U.S. Army

Stress, in any form is detrimental to health and happiness. If meditation can alleviate the stress of a brave warrior, what might the practice do for you? Science and spirituality agree. Meditation can work wonders. You deserve the gift of serenity today. Follow this link to begin your journey into peace of mind today.

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For more by Dr. Marcia Hootman, click here.

For more on meditation, click here.

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