Monday, October 04, 2004

Healing Powers Of Meditation

By Randall Fitzgerald
Phenomena Magazine

What began as a continuous ache in his lower back intensified until my friend Donald Altman could no longer take deep breaths or sleep at night. A physician in Portland, Oregon, did an ultrasound that revealed Donald had one large kidney stone and three smaller stones in the process of formation.

Prior to seeing a urologist to begin a traditional treatment regimen, Altman began doing a meditation that he had learned years earlier from a Buddhist monk. Called the Healing Universal Smile, it is an ancient Buddhist practice of scanning (visualizing and feeling) into the interior of each body part, sending love and gratitude to those parts, and visualizing white light to purify and heal any injuries or imbalances. He did this meditation every night for 30 minutes.

When the urologist looked at the ultrasound results, he ordered a CT scan of the kidney to get a more detailed image of the stones. By the time this scan occurred at a hospital, Altman was no longer feeling much pain at all.

The urologist later called Altman to report that the CT scan was clear, showing no large stone or any formative stones. Altman explained that he had used a healing practice to dissolve the stones, to which the incredulous urologist replied, “No, you must have passed the stones through your urinary tract.”

“But wouldn’t I have felt that?” Altman protested. “Don’t you normally feel a tremendous amount of discomfort in passing them? I didn’t experience any of that.”

Not knowing what to say, which is a typical response by physicians confronting medical anomalies, the urologist simply asked Altman to report any recurrence of his symptoms. This was in February, 2004, and since then the 53-year-old Altman, author of Living Kindness, The Art Of The Inner Meal, and other well-regarded books, has experienced no recurrence.

Altman learned the healing meditation in 1996, from a Burmese monk in his 70’s who had such strong vitality and youthful appearance that Altman was prompted to inquire about how the monk maintained his health. The monk described this meditation practice that he did every morning on awakening.

“Our bodies are miraculous healing instruments,” Altman told me. “Any one of us can learn this meditative technique and put it to work, as I did, to heal any injuries or imbalances in the body.”


Meditation has been shown in clinical studies to produce greater control of the autonomic nervous system. Heart activity, skin temperature, and blood flow can be selectively regulated by veteran practitioners of mediation. In particular, meditation seems to generate a unique connection and energetic flow between the brain and the heart.

Using the mind to facilitate a feeling of love at the heart center of the body seems to be a catalyst for healing. At the Institute of HeartMath in California, medical researchers have uncovered clinical evidence that feelings of love produce real healing energies in the body, with measurable physiological effects.

Two of these effects warrant mention. Both heart rhythms and brain waves, as measured by electrocardiographs, become highly ordered and more coherent than normal when meditators feel the presence of unconditional love in their heart centers. Even more provocative is the effect on the body’s immune system. Saliva tests have found sharply elevated levels of chemicals indicating enhanced immune system functioning when love feelings are being channeled in the body.

We remain poised on the frontier of research and knowledge about how our minds can affect our health. Mind over matter medicine may be in its infancy, but its healing modalities, revolving around meditation and related subtle energy practices, no longer languish as mere metaphoric tools in the mystic’s toolbox. They are now practical and accessible to us all.

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