We all know that the mind has control over the body. But what most people don’t realize is that the body also has a good control over the mind. This sounds puzzling, but if we think in the way of hormones and how they affect our daily moods, the previous statement is true.
Some people think of meditation as relaxation, but it has been proven to have more than that. Relaxation can be done differently for different people. Some people watch the TV, some listen to musics, and some cook. While relaxation is an action of being free, meditation is an action of being present. See the difference? Let’s look more into them!
How Hormones React to Meditation
Hormones are released in response to one’s change in condition. For example, if the weather is hot, the thyroid hormone is released to control the body’s metabolism. Some hormones react to mental changes too. Serotonin, for example, decreases as anxiety grows.
A research conducted in Clark University, Massachusetts, by two students, William C. Daube and Charles E. Jakobsche, concluded a good point into this. The two students gathered data of changes in hormone in response to meditation. They did this through an analytical method, such as urine, blood, and saliva test. Several hormonal changes were tested in various groups of people, including meditators.
- Cortisol – Cortisol is a hormone that increases as one’s physical or mental short-term stress increases. These situations happen when the body, along with the brain, processes an exhausting amount of information in a short period of time. A group of trained meditatiors were asked to meditate in 30 minutes, while a group of untrained were asked to relax. Afterwards, their cortisol levels were recorded. The meditators showed a decrease of 27% in the cortisol level, while the untrained showed little to no change in it. Another group of people were asked to meditate, but had hard times trying to focus. Surprisingly, their levels of cortisol decreased.
- Serotonin – Serotonin indicates the level of anxiety someone has. If it is low, anxiety must be present. Some people use anti-depressant, like Prozac, to increase the level of serotonin and counter anxiety. A group of 22 students that practice meditation, Group 1, were tested along with a group of 33 untrained students, Group 2. Urine analysis is used to record the level of serotonin. Group 1’s urine analysis during the night and in the morning showed in average 70% more level of serotonin than Group 2’s.
- Adrenaline – Also known as epinephrine, adrenaline is associated with biological response to fear and physical exertion. A group of 19 regular meditation practitioners were urine-tested along with 16 healthy subjects. The average morning concentration of adrenaline in the meditators was 30-40% lower than the other group.
Okay, So What is the Point?
From the data gathered, the body reacts to meditation through its hormonal release. Depending on the task, the hormonal release can increase or decrease. The meditation done doesn’t have to be perfectly tranquil, and it still has its effect. This conclusion, at the other hand, makes sense. The mind does control the body. Therefore, a state of awareness can make difference in hormonal release, preventing the body from doing a bigger control than it should.
Relaxation is not meditation. Some acts of relaxation don’t require tranquility, while in essence, meditation requires focus. The group that was asked to relax didn’t show much difference in their hormone level.
Daube, William C. and Jakobsche, Charles E. (2015) “Biochemical Effects of Meditation: A Literature Review,”ScholarlyUndergraduate Research Journal at Clark: Vol. 1 , Article 10.Available at:https://commons.clarku.edu/surj/vol1/iss1/10
Benson, H.; Klipper, M. Z. The Relaxation Response. Harper Col-lins, New York, 2009 (1975).