This paper reflects the research and thoughts of a student at the time the paper was written for a course at Bryn Mawr College. Like other materials on Serendip, it is not intended to be "authoritative" but rather to help others further develop their own explorations. Web links were active as of the time the paper was posted but are not updated.

Contribute Thoughts | Search Serendip for Other Papers | Serendip Home Page

Biology 202
2002 Second Paper
On Serendip

Meditation: Does it Alter the Mind and the Body?

Erica Carlos

BEEP BEEP BEEP!!!! 9:00 am starts flashing on your alarm clock and you immediately run through your "to do list" for the day. It's a long list, filled with classes, meetings, homework, meals, exams...etc. Being the master of multitasking, I have a tendency to perform various tasks at once. As a result, my concentration level decreases while my stress level increases. How can this lack of concentration and stress level be fixed? Many people turn to meditation, but does this practice actually work? And if so, how does meditation work to change the mind and the body?

Meditation is defined as "...engagement in contemplation, especially of a spiritual or devotional attempt to concentrate mind on a single form or an idea or an aspect of divinity at the exclusion of all other forms and the ideas. The mind is focused inwards, and this effort of concentration acts as stimulus to gain access to the knowledge of the object of meditation" (1). The practice of meditation involves both psychological and physiological changes. For example, the altering of breathing patterns and thought processes. But does meditation guarantee mental and physical change?

Meditation forces an individual to gain complete control of their inner self. But, what exactly is the inner self? The subconscious is an integral constituent of the internal mind. It is located deep in the core of the mind, acting as the center of emotions, behavior, creativity, and imagination. In addition, subconscious maintains good health (2). Does meditation allow an individual to open the hidden doors of the subconscious mind? What is the difference between the subconscious and conscious mind? You can think of the conscious mind as known knowledge while the subconscious mind is unknown knowledge. Meditation taps into the subconscious mind and uncovers veiled realities about the inner self. To investigate whether meditation affects the mind, studies were performed on subjects practicing meditation techniques. In conclusion, the experimenters discovered an increase in productivity, improved relations at work, increased inner potential, increased strength of self-concept, and reduced anxiety (3). All these factors can be thought of as being an element of an individual's subconscious mind because it involves behavior and thought procedures. Moreover, the focus of one image steers an individual away from multitasking and toward greater concentration. In a sense, an individual becomes more aware of their inner self as a result of focused attentiveness.

How does meditation physiologically change the body? There has to be a reason why so many therapists suggest meditation as a solution to some physical dilemmas. Experiments were performed demonstrating that meditation does better the health and well being of an individual by altering the autonomic system of the brain. Instead of the fight or flight mechanism, which causes blood pressure to rise, the rate of the heart beat to speed up...etc., meditation aims to replace the sympathetic panicked feelings. Rather, meditation calms the nervous system. Among the various physiological changes experienced by subjects practicing meditation are lower blood pressure, slower heartbeat, rate of respiration, and rate of metabolism, and skin (stimuli) resistance (1). This particular web site stresses the presence of changes in neurophysiology with meditation, concluding that neurotransmitters and neuro-modulators, chemical substances released at the synapse, are modified when meditation is a constant stimulus. The website further explains how neurotransmitters and neuro-modulators create new brain connections and activate undeveloped neurons. This hypothesis along with the experiments investigating the effects of meditation on the body may elucidate the question of how meditation alters the physiological state.

Meditation effects both physiological and psychological changes of the mind and the body. It forces an individual to put the conscious mind aside and unleash the hidden truths about one's inner self. The conscious mind equates exposed knowledge while the subconscious mind is the unexposed deeper knowledge. Meditation can serve as a tool to cleanse the mind and reveal unknown components of an individual's inner self. Becoming aware of one's inner self may shed light on factors like behavior patterns, which can ultimately be changed to better the well being of the individual. Even practicing Buddhists use meditation as a cleansing tool to rid them of evil and negative thoughts and exchange them with good and positive ones (4). Physically, meditation can improve an individual's health by altering the body's condition. Therefore, meditation changes mental and physical well being through a heightened sense of control, concentration, and relaxation. This exploration of mediation on the mind and the body opens up a can of new questions. For example, does mediation result in an out-of-body experience or is it a learned concept of thinking? Does meditation remove a person from their mind and body? Or, does meditation require a new philosophy of learned behavior? Further investigations may be able to answer these questions. For now, sign up for that yoga class or take time out of your busy day to breath slowly, close your eyes, and focus on one image. Meditation can alter your lifestyle and ultimately your mind and body.


1)qnest home page, a good source about meditation. The practice of meditation

2)Inner Sphere Home page, another good meditation source.

3) TM Home Page, defines meditation

4)Self Hypothesis Home Page, Great source describing a hypothesis about meditation

| Forums | Serendip Home |

Send us your comments at Serendip

© by Serendip 1994- - Last Modified: Wednesday, 02-May-2018 10:53:08 CDT