An increasing body of medical evidence confirms that meditation has a wide range of positive effects for the practitioner. The probably most influential and respected print media in Germany, der Spiegel, recently ran the article: Der heilende Geist: Gesund durch Meditation und Entspannung (The healing spirit: Healthy through meditation and relaxation) on its front page.
The four pages long article states that meditation is no longer restricted to being an esoteric exercise for a minority of people. Meditation, helped by new scientific evidence, has moved into the mainstream of medical practice as a tool with proved beneficial effects for the body as well as for the mind. Scientists have discovered several of the mechanisms through which meditation can influence a person´s health and well-being, and der Spiegel describes in particular the stimulation of the nervous system through a pathway called nervus vagus, which is said to be an important link between body and mind.Meditation has been found beneficial for the function of organs such as the heart and the intestines, among others. On the psychological level, meditation has been shown to be useful when it comes to dealing with depression and anxiety, as well as with stress and handling of challenges in general. Brain research is briefly mentioned as well.
What is described as particularly appealing is that people through these techniques and practices can empower themselves and take control of their situation, instead of passively being treated.
According to Der Spiegel, meditation is no longer necessarily connected to esoteric practices and far-eastern religious thinking. That is indeed so: Myself, I have practiced Acem Meditation for more than 30 years. I have found Acem Meditation particularly appealing because it has a down-to earth, purely psychological approach.Over the last years I have been teaching Acem Meditation in Germany, and the non-religious, non-esoteric ways of Acem Meditation clearly goes very well with Germans. I have myself noted that meditation is well respected and not a controversial thing to do among ordinary Germans. We can look forward to exciting times for the spread of meditation now that it seems to have become part of mainstream thinking in medicine and is described as a respectable phenomenon in the foremost media in Germany.
I wouldn´t sign off on all of der Spiegel´s opinions, though. The authors get a bit lost in the woods when they describe “positive thinking”, for example. They may lack deeper understanding of the subject. But I agree when it comes to what sort of technique a person should choose to start with. Der Spiegel notes that you have to find out yourself. As I did myself, when I chose Acem Meditation for its serious approach and Western understanding of meditation as a phenomenon. I haven´t regretted that decision.