There are three basic components to meditation that makes it so magically reviving. First – body relaxation – obviously tensed muscles create stress so the opposite is good, complete short term drop of tension.
Second – the mind is taken off its usual worry circuit and into an empty plain, which again gives the body a chance to relax and recoup instead of constantly reacting to our thought process. This state of calm means that the body could begin to self-heal.
The third one might come as a surprise to some people. During the proper meditation the breathing activity slows down. There are longer intervals between each exhale and inhale (the pause before the next inhalation). And the breathing becomes shallower like in a deep sleep.
This third effect I would like to look at more closely today. As it’s also the cause of profound healing that is happening to the body during and as the result of meditation. Yogis for the longest time were practicing pranayama – the art or technique of controlling and slowing one’s breathing ascribing wonderful properties to such practices. The extreme example was of some ascetically accomplished persons to stay underwater for about 30 days without breathing.
Yet we all know that oxygen is absolute must for our body cells to support life. So we are always advised to inhale deeper and keep it longer inside before exhaling. It took a scientist totally unfamiliar with yoga to prove the deep breathing wrong. Konstantin Buteyko, Soviet professor of medicine, claimed that deep breathing only increases the amount of unusable oxygen in the blood stream which doesn’t guarantee but hinders its reception by the body cells. He is said to help Prince Charles to overcome his allergy, who referred to controlled breathing as a real help to allergy and asthma sufferers in his passionate essay for The Guardian in 2004.
The controlled breathing method is based on the fact that proper absorption of the oxygen is dependent on the level of CO2 (carbon dioxide) in the blood. At maximum it must be equal to 6.7 % in the blood stream. Routinely people have up to 3,7 %. By slowing down the breathing process and making it shallower the body’s ability to retain CO2 increases which then supports the ability of the cells to receive oxygen from the blood stream.
By practicing slower and shallower breathing for couple of weeks you can increase the level of CO2 (which body produces naturally as the result of its function) by one to two points. At such a mark things like asthma and other respiratory illnesses including allergy immune disorders are claimed to improve to the point on nonexistence.
The Buteyko method of controlled breathing recommends practicing relaxation with slower and shallower breathing 15 minutes three times a day. This brings us back to meditation. Its profound healing effect does have a scientific basis although not widely recognised.
© Dana Johnson