Heartfulness Meditation, a meditation practice adapted from Raja Yoga system, improves immunity against infections and cancer. It is an effective adjunct in the treatment of several autoimmune disorders. In the current context of COVID 19 Pandemic when vaccines have yet not seen light of the day, it has been advocated strongly by medical and other research fraternities that the fundamental defence against the virus is to have strong immunity.
In an article published in the International Journal of Recent Scientific Research, authors Dr. Raja Amarnath G. Director, Critical Care Services – Sree Balaji Medical College, Chennai, Dr. Natwar Sharma, Pediatrics In charge – Saveetha Medical College, Chennai Dr. Prasanthi J., Diabetologist, Chennai, Dr. Sugirtha Jenitha, Critical Care – Sree Balaji Medical College, Dr. Chitra Rajan Consultant Environmental Sustainability – IIT Chennai and Dr. Subbulakshmi Balasubramanian, RRT, Michigan USA have drawn a comparison between stress and immunity.
Commenting on the far reaching benefits of meditation Kamlesh Patel, Guide of Heartfulness said, “meditation should be made an integral part of life, it acts as a silent regulator for all systems in our being – physical, mental, emotional and spiritual to function in harmony. The impact of this is the ability of the body and mind to respond to internal and external stress with extreme effectiveness. Scientific backing forms the core of the offerings at Heartfulness. The recent study that shows Heartfulness meditation helps in improving immunity should be motivating for many to embrace the practice, to help deal with situations like we are facing now as well as to strengthen oneself internally for the future challenges.”
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According to the authors, when stress becomes chronic, many organ systems in the body are affected. Persistent stress results in excessive levels of cortisol and other corticosteroids circulating in the blood for a longer period that produces irregularities in the immune responses. This results in increased susceptibility to infections, increased risk of cancer, tendency to develop an allergy, increased gastrointestinal problems and an increased risk of autoimmune disorders. Chronic stress also leads to anxiety, depression, sleep deprivation, hypertension, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome.
The authors stress that managing stress through relaxation techniques, meditation, yoga, positive thinking and moulding a healthy lifestyle can dramatically improve mood and strengthen the immune system. They cite several studies, Studies revealed that the relaxation produced after meditation reduces the levels of IL-6, a proinflammatory cytokine produced by T cells, that plays a major role in the pathophysiology of several autoimmune diseases, different types of cancers and Alzheimer’s diseases.
According to them, meditation increases telomerase activity and lengthens telomeres and thus promotes immune cell longevity. Beneficial effects of meditation also include reducing the activity of nuclear factor-kB (NF-kB) which is a mediator in the pathogenesis of certain cancers, arthritis, chronic inflammatory conditions, asthma and neurodegenerative diseases and lowering C – reactive protein levels that are high in lymphoma, systemic lupus erythematosus, arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease.
Regular practice of Heartfulness Meditation can aid in stress reduction and general well-being. Shifting the autonomic balance towards parasympathetic from sympathetic and reducing the secretion of stress hormones are the key reasons. Relaxation response produced from meditation reduces metabolic rate, moderates fight or flight response, reduces breathing and heart rate (HR), lowers blood pressure, brings cortisol and lactate levels down, and elevates blood flow to the key internal organs. Heartfulness Meditation alleviates physical and psychological stress and restores mental harmony, and if practised regularly – it is a remarkable medium for maintaining and promoting physical, mental, and spiritual health.
It is the common man’s perspective that most of the traditional methods of meditation are not very easy to follow with all the required diligence. Choosing a simple and effective method suiting the current day’s busy lifestyles appears to be the key to enable better adherence.
Modified Raja Yoga systems like ‘Heartfulness meditation’, which are simple and practised by the majority of spiritual seekers around the world over the last several decades, needs to be explored much deeper through large, controlled trials in this regard.