In this book, researchers and healthcare professionals with personal experience of Acem Meditation review current meditation research.
• Meditation: A scientific perspective
Scientific literature indicates that meditation has profound effects on parameters such as brain activities, stress hormones and neurotransmitters, cardiovascular performance, cognitive and emotional functions. The article suggests that fundamental differences exist between concentrative and nondirected meditation techniques with regard to operational modes and effects.
• Effects of Acem Meditation
Acem Meditation brings about deeper relaxation than regular rest. Monitoring of activity patterns in the heart shows that the effects are most pronounced during the first two hours of meditation. Behavioural performance under stress shows signs of improvement. Meditators also seem to recover faster after intense physical exercise and stress. These and other results were explored in a PhD thesis on Acem Meditation.
• Coping with psychological complaints
Minor psychological problems including anxiety, apprehension, stress and depressive symptoms are reduced by regular meditation. In addition, increased well-being, quality of life and emotional stability are reported.
• Meditation in a stressful society
Lower levels of stress hormones such as cortisol have been demonstrated both during and after meditation. Mood tends to change in a healthy direction, and the ability to respond to acute challenges seems to increase.
• When painkillers don’t kill pain
In handling stress-related pain, meditation may sometimes prove more effective than medical treatment. Regular relaxation or meditation may lead to less muscular tension and pain, as well as to reduced consumption of painkillers.
• The meditating brain
During meditation, brain scanning has revealed increased activities in the prefrontal cortex, an area related to higher cognitive functions such as attention, cognitive understanding and executive control. EEG shows that not only alpha waves occur, as in relaxed wakefulness, but theta and gamma waves also emerge.
• Did the Neanderthals meditate?
The stress response is much older than homo sapiens. Meditation is probably unique to the human species. Even the Neanderthals probably had the genetic equipment required for meditating.
• Sleep, alertness and quality of life
A pilot study suggests that Acem Meditation, and to a lesser extent progressive relaxation, may lead to better sleep and quality of life, and to reduced psychological tension and blood pressure.
• Stress management with Acem Meditation
This pilot study suggests that stress management using Acem Meditation and yoga ameliorates sleep problems and the tendency to worry, and results in improved coping with emotional strain.
• Did Cinderella have muscle pain?
Meditation may reduce muscular pain by allowing rest to the persistently activated “Cinderella” muscle fibres.