I’m finally getting around to meditating as part of my strategy to deal with cancer. The practice was touted by Dr. Servan-Schreiber in the best cancer book I’ve read, AntiCancer: A New Way of Life. He noted that when breast and prostate cancer patients in a Calgary University study began meditating, “Their white blood cells, including NK cells, recovered a normal profile … more propitious for fighting cancer.” This result was duplicated in studies at Imperial College, London, and Ohio State University.
According to neurologist Andrew Newberg, meditating for as little as 12 minutes a day can:
- reduce stress, the #1 killer in America,
- improve memory and cognition,
- strengthen the immune system,
- slow the aging process in the brain,
- minimize the deterioration of diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.
Newberg and his colleagues have shown that regular meditation positively rewires the brain:
Our brain-scan study showed that (meditation) strengthens a specific circuit—involving the prefrontal and orbital-frontal lobe, the anterior cingulated, basal ganglia, and thalamus—that would otherwise deteriorate with age. The circuit governs a wide variety of activities involved with consciousness, clarity of mind, reality formation, error detection, empathy, compassion, emotional balance and the suppression of anger and fear.
The content of the meditation doesn’t matter; the act of focusing and becoming aware of your inner state is what counts. The more senses you involve the better: controlling your breathing, repeating a phrase or mantra, touching fingertips together, etc.
Initially I ignored meditation because of its association with eastern religions and new age mysticism. I downplayed the fact that it’s been a valued discipline in Christianity from the beginning.
I also suffered from the error of Naaman the Leper (2 Kings 5). The prophet Elisha told this Syrian general he could be cured by dunking himself seven times in the Jordan River. Naaman rejected this as too easy, but his servant finally talked him into it —and it worked!
I’ve done months of chemo; spent weeks preparing for and undergoing a bone marrow transplant, driven across town for radiation treatments 33 times but have balked at meditating for 12 minutes at home! But no more. Meditation is now part of my daily regime. I’ve even come up with my own mantra.