Meditation as Medicine: Activate the Power of Your Natural Healing Force

Overview

Proven effective by scientific research and presented here by Dr. Dharma Singh Khalsa and Cameron Stauth, the practice of Medical Meditation revolutionizes the healing process. By balancing and regenerating the body's ethereal and physical energies through simple meditations, Medical Meditation unites the mind, body, and spirit into a powerful triad.
Each Medical Meditation here has a specific physiological effect, targeting afflictions from arthritis to ulcers to cancer. Dr. ...

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Overview

Proven effective by scientific research and presented here by Dr. Dharma Singh Khalsa and Cameron Stauth, the practice of Medical Meditation revolutionizes the healing process. By balancing and regenerating the body's ethereal and physical energies through simple meditations, Medical Meditation unites the mind, body, and spirit into a powerful triad.
Each Medical Meditation here has a specific physiological effect, targeting afflictions from arthritis to ulcers to cancer. Dr. Khalsa details the five unique attributes that endow this type of meditation with far more power than standard meditation. The combination of special postures and movements; exact positioning of the hands and fingers; particular mantras; specific breathing patterns; and a unique focus of concentration can change your entire biochemical profile, easing you into a calm, healing state. Practiced in conjunction with conventional or alternative medical treatments, cutting-edge Medical Meditation activates the healing force within you.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
Incorporating the therapeutic benefits of meditation, the restorative benefits of yoga, and the healing power of positive thinking, Dr. Dharma Singh Khalsa formulated Medical Meditation, a combination of kundalini yoga and meditation documented to improve spiritual and physical well-being. With ample statistics to support the legitimacy of Medical Meditation, inspiring stories of patients who have benefited from it, clear illustrations of various poses, and plenty of mantras, Meditation as Medicine serves as both a primer for those new to meditation or yoga, and a thorough guide to a groundbreaking new option for alleviating the pain of any number of physical maladies: ulcers, cancer, addiction, endometriosis, osteoporosis, and indigestion among them.

Dr. Khalsa -- a distinguished physician who is also a yogi trained by kundalini yoga master Yogi Bhajan -- begins with an excellent overview of meditation and the scientific support for its efficacy as a healing practice. Readers who are unfamiliar with the basics of meditation will find this outline of the eight chakras, the nadis, the five tattwas, and more, particularly helpful. Meditation as Medicine proceeds to detail the ways in which our bodies deteriorate as we age. Various glands become overworked and start to lose their ability to distribute appropriate amounts of the different hormones that keep the body in working condition, leading to a number of conditions, from cardiovascular problems to poor eyesight to Alzheimer's disease. Through Medical Meditation, Dr. Khalsa asserts, one can learn to stimulate those glands that need stimulation and thus improve the endocrine, immune, or nervous systems, as well as the psyche.

But in addition to the use of Medical Meditation as a deterrent to the onset of aging and its related ailments, Dr. Khalsa has also found that Medical Meditation can be used quite powerfully to help battle afflictions already in progress. The use of Medical Meditation in concert with traditional medical treatment is, for many, far more effective than the traditional treatment alone could have been. Dr. Khalsa cites numerous stories of patients he has treated who experienced miraculous recoveries following a regimen of Medical Meditation.

Providing extensive scientific support for his findings, Dr. Khalsa explains how and why Medical Meditation works. And, just as important, where no scientific proof is available, Dr. Khalsa points out that he is stating a professional belief. Often, these beliefs are well grounded in ancient science, but it is always valuable to note the instances in which modern research does not yet support certain hunches. Meditation as Medicine devotes a great deal of attention to the practice of Medical Meditation, offering abundant illustrations of different positions. Also included is an invaluable chart listing a host of possible ailments, which chakra they affect, and the particular form of Medical Meditation called for. Throughout the book, Dr. Khalsa's clear and approachable writing style makes accessible to the reader what could seem, in less capable hands, like intimidating scientific jargon.

As the complex relationship between the body and the mind continues to be explored, new findings consistently support the idea that the mind does, in fact, have the power to heal the body. Why not let Meditation as Medicine help you harness some of that power for your own benefit?

--Karen Burns

From the Publisher
Andrew Weil, M.D. author of Spontaneous Healing and Eating Well for Optimum Health Meditation as Medicine is a new concept, but the techniques that it uses are ancient, part of the wisdom tradition of India...Clear and engaging...I found much practical advice here.

Deepak Chopra, M.D. author of How to Know God In Meditation as Medicine, Dr. Dharma Singh Khalsa shows us how the tremendous power of medical meditation can heal not only the body but also the mind and soul. I strongly recommend it.

The Dallas Morning News Intelligent, accessible, and free of cant and hyperbole.

Library Journal
Here, Khalsa presents a compelling look at the value of "medical meditation," a form of therapy based on the principles of kundalini yoga, a discipline that he has practiced for over 20 years. Using references to current medical research and case histories from his medical practice, Khalsa builds a case for the efficacy of medical meditation to assist in healing many diseases. A firm proponent of the power of mind, body, and spirit to overcome illness, he believes that the ethereal body can help the physical body to heal and vice versa. Throughout the program, the author stresses the need to use traditional Western medical techniques in combination with medical meditation to achieve the best results. Khalsa's narration is excellent; however, it is hard to follow some of his instructions for meditation positions. Those who are not already motivated to meditate, or who are not facing life-threatening illness, may find his daily regimen for maximum results overwhelming. Highly recommended for libraries that serve audiences interested in current techniques to increase the healing connection of mind and body. Kathleen Sullivan, Phoenix P.L. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780743400657
  • Publisher: Atria Books
  • Publication date: 5/21/2002
  • Edition description: First Fireside Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 221,266
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Dharma Singh Khalsa, M.D., is board certified in anesthesiology, pain management, and antiaging medicine. President and medical director of the Alzheimer's Prevention Foundation in Tucson, he conducts workshops on brain longevity and Medical Meditation at the Miraval, Life in Balance resort. Dr. Khalsa is one of just a few individuals in the world who are both physicians and yogis.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One: Introducing Medical Meditation

Just before dawn, in the intense quiet outside my desert home, slight sun and deep shadow swirl together, coloring the eastern sky a streaked gray, with a slash of brightness at the horizon, promising light. This is not the darkest, but the lightest hour of the night.

As the most distant stars begin to blink off, warmth fights the nighttime chill, and the mix of hot and cold twirls in a breeze that touches my face. As the stillness of night gives way, cardinals and finches begin to tentatively test the quiet. In the hills and canyons behind my house, their songs herald the sun. It reminds me of a proverb: "Faith is the bird that feels the light, and sings while the dawn is still dark."

I discovered that if I listened carefully to the birds that lived around my house, and whistled their own cries — not just generic birdcalls, but each bird's own signature song — they would often answer. A cardinal calls; I do my best to mimic his cry, and I am rewarded with a reply: "Whit-chewww! Whit-whit-whit-whit!" As we trade sounds, I focus on the exquisite beauty of the desert that surrounds my rural Tucson, Arizona, home. I see that the rugged perfection of the desert, with its infinite capacity for survival, reflects the most fundamental secrets of healing: balance, regeneration, and the ability to change.

I feel certain that if I can help my patients find these powers in themselves, I can help them heal. And on this day I will need these powers badly, because a patient is coming to me who has lost faith that a new day will always dawn for her. She has a terrible medical problem, and fears, quite realistically, that she will be paralyzed for the rest of her life.

Sadly, the grip that paralysis holds on her has practically stopped her life, even while she still draws breath. She is still struggling through the motions of life, but she doesn't have much heart or hope left. She is clinging desperately to her old habits and perceptions, as if change itself were death.

I look to the horizon, now pink with blue, close my eyes, and ask God to give me the power to speak to this frightened person in her own language, so that I can reach her center and reignite the spark that has been snuffed. In my mind I can see the sun, brilliant and pulsing, still on the other side of the world.

A force begins to flow into me as I begin my first mantra of the day: "Ong Namo, Guru Dev Namo" ("I bow before my highest self"). It's always my first mantra. On this day, I mean this mantra with all my heart, because I know that only my highest self — the part of me that can feel the universal spirit — can help heal my patient's tortured soul and broken body.

As time falls away, I chant, "Ong Namo, Guru Dev Namo." I can speak the words in English, "I bow before my highest consciousness," but it would not have the same physical effect. The ancient Sanskrit words that I chant every morning have a very specific physiological action. The reverberative sounds in them vibrate the pituitary, just above the roof of my mouth, which changes the secretions of this master gland of the endocrine system.

Obviously, the ancient yoga masters who devised this mantra had no anatomic knowledge of the pituitary, but they did know that the Ong Namo mantra worked. Quite simply, it made people feel more like themselves — their true selves, their highest selves. It doesn't concern me that the ancient masters didn't know about the pituitary, because even today doctors don't know why some of their treatments work — they still don't know why aspirin stops pain, they just know that it does.

The ancient yoga masters taught that this mantra and others should be chanted before dawn. They did not know that the hours just before sunrise are critical to the body's balance of hormones and neurotransmitters, which the pituitary influences. Modern neuroscientists know now that these are the hours during which the endocrine and neurotransmitter balance shifts from relative domination by sleep-inducing melatonin to relative domination by serotonin, norepinephrine, and cortisol. If this shift does not occur smoothly, it can have very distressing, and even disastrous, effects. It can diminish the production of stimulating neurochemicals, and leave people groggy and depressed all day. Or it can have the opposite effect, and cause overproduction of the stress hormone cortisol, which can cause agitation, immune dysfunction, memory loss, and premature aging. The ancient yoga masters knew nothing of the endocrine system, but they did know that there was something magical and empowering in the predawn hours, which they called the ambrosial hours.

As the sun slowly begins to bathe my face in radiance, my sense of personal power, serenity, and intuition continue to expand. I keep meditating, and doing exercises of kundalini yoga. These exercises heighten the presence of life energy, or vitality, which the ancient masters called kundalini. The exercises are the physical element of meditation, and are every bit as important as the mental element, since mind and body are inseparable.

I finish by chanting the Mantra of Ecstasy, "Wahe Guru" ("Out of darkness, into light"). Suddenly a hot knot of fear hits my stomach, hard as a fist. How could I possibly help heal this young woman? She has a spinal injury that is, by all conventional medical reckoning, beyond help. She clearly wants me to work a miracle, but no honest doctor can ever presume that capability.

I vowed over the phone to do whatever I could to help her. But ever since she called, I've been uneasy. Afraid to be totally honest. I was afraid I would let her down, and add to her emptiness. But I pushed down the fear and rationalized it. I went back to my work. On a conscious level, the fear went away.

During my meditation, though, my fear has resurfaced. Maybe my meditative mental state, which is analogous to a hypnotic state, has allowed the fear to break out. Or maybe the yoga I was doing released emotions that I stored in neuropeptides in my abdominal area. I know it may sound like sci-fi to say that emotions can literally be stored in the gut, but the latest neurological research, by Dr. Candace Pert and others, indicates that this astounding mind-body function is quite real. Many of your gut feelings are literally the results of the neurochemicals that abound in your upper intestine.

As quickly as my fear hit, it evaporated. I felt much better, as I always do when meditation lets me release fear or anger. Some people think that meditation is nothing but sitting around feeling blissful, like a latter-day Buddha with a big enlightened smile. But it's not like that. Meditation means opening yourself to the truth. And sometimes the truth hurts.

After I faced my fear, I found myself focusing on my patient in a much clearer, sharper way. Meditation is excellent at removing the obscuring screens of your own personal concerns, and letting you see things the way they really are.

What I see now is a young woman who is suffering more than most people can bear, and who would be grateful for any help she could get. If I can just give to her — give anything — and stop worrying about how much I can give, perhaps I can help her heal.

I open my eyes and feel a rush of compassion for my patient, warm as a wave in the Caribbean. The compassion does not feel like sadness. It feels like joy.

I stand up, and hear the beauty of birds in full concert. The desert, yellow now and vibrating with sun, is alive with the new energy of heat. My day has begun. I am ready. I have gone out of the darkness, into the light.

The Ancient Science and the New Application

When my teacher, Yogi Bhajan, the only master of white tantric yoga in the world, was a boy in India, his yoga master told him to climb into a tree. At that time, it was his teacher who was the only living master, or Mahan Tantric, of white tantric yoga, which is the ultimate yoga to purify and uplift one's being. Therefore Yogi Bhajan, who was then known merely as Harbhajan Singh, dutifully climbed the tree. His master left — and remained gone for three days and three nights. When the master finally returned, his dedicated student was still in the tree. The master asked the student what he had learned. The boy replied that he had learned how to collect water from the rain showers, and which branches the monkeys liked to sleep on. His master nodded, and spoke no more of the experience. But the master continued to teach the boy the secrets of advanced meditation, which had been taught to him — in utmost secrecy — by the yoga masters of the prior era.

For this continued teaching, Yogi Bhajan was profoundly grateful. He felt he was paying a small price for this important knowledge, which had been personally passed from master to student for centuries, and zealously guarded.

The secrets of advanced meditation were shrouded in secrecy because of respect for, and even fear of, their innate power. Just as governments guard state secrets of power, the ancient yoga masters guarded these secrets of spiritual power. They believed that power has the capacity to corrupt, and that it would be disastrous for the wrong person to learn these secrets.

Therefore, these advanced meditations were hidden from the common man, and made available only to disciples proven to have pure hearts. Proving one's purity, of course, required great discipline. For example, as young Yogi Bhajan, or Harbhajan Singh, rose in worldly status — as a prominent athlete, government official, and military officer — he was continually tested by those who guarded the secrets of advanced meditation. Once, when Harbhajan Singh was a high-ranking military officer — and already a renowned yogi — he sought to learn a particular set of meditations, or kriya, from an erudite teacher. He called on the teacher for months, but was never given an audience. Finally, the teacher sent a message that Harbhajan Singh should personally make him a carrot pudding, and deliver it to him, five miles on foot, barefoot, every day for one week. Each day the respected officer left his car and driver five miles from the teacher, took off his boots, and walked the dusty, hot path in his starched uniform, carrying the pudding. At last, he was granted the knowledge.

After many more years of practice and service, Yogi Bhajan was recognized as the Mahan Tantric, the world's leading authority on yoga and meditation. As such, he became the most recent member of the golden chain — the lineage of yoga masters, just one every generation, who have carried forward the practice of advanced meditation.

Then, in 1969, Yogi Bhajan undertook a revolutionary act. Having moved to America, he broke with tradition and began to teach the secrets of Medical Meditation to anyone who had a sincere interest. He offered a simple explanation for breaking the code of silence: "We are in the desert, and I have some water."

Since that time, partly as a result of Yogi Bhajan's efforts, the American interest in meditation has grown geometrically. Currently, over 50 million Americans, or 19 percent of the population, engage in meditation.

Until very recently, most of the interest in meditation has been focused on the most basic, fundamental forms of meditation: Transcendental Meditation, popularized by the Beatles, and the relaxation response, popularized by Harvard's Dr. Herbert Benson. Dr. Benson, who directed a postgraduate course I took at Harvard Medical School, was chiefly concerned with isolating the most obvious healing aspect of meditation, and therefore focused his research almost solely upon simple, worry-free relaxation. In so doing, he made meditation palatable to the medical community. Due to Dr. Benson's work over the past twenty-five or thirty years, a large body of studies has indicated clearly that basic meditation, including the relaxation response, is an extremely viable treatment approach. Hundreds of studies have been performed, and they indicate the following:

  • Meditation creates a unique hypometabolic state, in which the metabolism is in an even deeper state of rest than during sleep. During sleep, oxygen consumption drops by 8 percent, but during meditation, it drops by 10 to 20 percent.
  • Meditation is the only activity that reduces blood lactate, a marker of stress and anxiety.
  • The calming hormones melatonin and serotonin are increased by meditation, and the stress hormone cortisol is decreased.
  • Meditation has a profound effect upon three key indicators of aging: hearing ability, blood pressure, and vision of close objects.
  • Long-term meditators experience 80 percent less heart disease and 50 percent less cancer than nonmeditators.
  • Meditators secrete more of the youth-related hormone DHEA as they age than nonmeditators. Meditating forty-five-year-old males have an average of 23 percent more DHEA than nonmeditators, and meditating females have an average of 47 percent more. This helps decrease stress, heighten memory, preserve sexual function, and control weight.
  • 75 percent of insomniacs were able to sleep normally when they meditated.
  • 34 percent of people with chronic pain significantly reduced medication when they began meditating.

As the body of research on meditation has grown, it's become evident that meditation confers not just strong psychological benefits but also profoundly important physiological benefits. I will go into greater detail on these studies and others in chapter 3.

Another phenomenon that has emerged is that not all meditation is equally effective. For example, most doctors consider techniques such as visualization, guided imagery, progressive relaxation, and affirmations to be forms of meditation, but these techniques lack the medical efficacy of the relaxation response. Similarly, the relaxation response has been shown by studies to be less effective than Transcendental Meditation. A meta-analysis of several hundred studies indicates that Transcendental Meditation exceeds the relaxation response in reducing psychophysical arousal due to stress, decreasing anxiety, increasing mental health, and decreasing drug use. Other studies show that Transcendental Meditation is more effective than the relaxation response at reducing hypertension, reducing mortality in the elderly, and decreasing outpatient visits and medical expenditures.

parSimilarly, a smaller number of studies indicate that advanced meditation, including Medical Meditation, is more successful than any other form of meditation, including Transcendental Meditation. Some of these studies, though, are ongoing, and have not yet been published. The strongest argument for the superiority of advanced meditation comes from empirical evidence, gleaned from individual clinical practices, such as my own. In my own practice, advanced meditation has clearly outperformed any other form of meditation. When it is used, results are generally more striking, and more immediate.

Due to the progressive nature of my practice, I tend to attract patients who have already participated in other forms of meditation, and these patients are uniformly impressed with the unparalleled quality of Medical Meditation. Quite simply, it succeeds where other forms of meditation fail. Because of this inherent success, there has recently been a grassroots, word-of-mouth movement among the public toward advanced meditation. This approach is much more popular than it was even ten years ago, as is evidenced by increasing enrollment in classes that involve kundalini yoga where Medical Meditation is taught. Also, more books and articles on the subject are in print than ever before, although almost all of them until now have been printed by small specialty publishing houses.

Medical Meditation surpasses the more mundane forms of meditation, I believe, because it more fully addresses every element of our physical and ethereal makeup. It is, to put it plainly, a more full-service approach. It nurtures every aspect of our being.

Medical Meditation

So what exactly is Medical Meditation? It is one of the newest and most cutting-edge advances in the field of integrative medicine. Medical Meditation is the use of advanced meditative techniques in a modern clinical setting. During approximately twenty-five years of medical practice — in which I have specialized in the areas of anesthesiology, pain management, brain regeneration, and integrative medicine — I have adapted and refined the use of kundalini yoga, combined with meditation, as a modality that I refer to as Medical Meditation.

Medical Meditation is not the simple, word-based meditation used to elicit the relaxation response. That type of therapy can be very helpful, and is widely practiced. But it is, in effect, the kindergarten version of Medical Meditation.

Medical Meditation uses advanced meditations, which consist of these unique attributes:

  1. specific breathing patterns;
  2. special postures and movements, including exact positioning of the hands and fingers;
  3. particular mantras, consisting of distinct, vibratory sounds; and
  4. a unique mental focus.

These various attributes fully involve the mind, body, and spirit of the meditator. The combination of all of the attributes exerts a synergistic effect, and endows Medical Meditation with far more power than standard meditation, which often involves simply relaxing.

Because there are so many variables in each Medical Meditation, there are dozens of different Medical Meditations, for a wide variety of medical conditions and illnesses. I have adapted each of these Medical Meditations from ancient advanced meditations that were employed for healing long before the advent of modern medicine. I combine Medical Meditation with the best modern medical techniques.

Each Medical Meditation has a specific physiological effect. There are specific Medical Meditations for arthritis, for heart disease, for AIDS, for cancer, for migraines, for asthma — and for nervous system regeneration. All of these I will share with you.

The clinical precision of Medical Meditation is extraordinary, and is simply not present in standard meditation. Make no mistake: standard meditation is extremely valuable in medical treatment. It has helped effect many recoveries from serious illnesses, when used as an adjunctive therapy, and sometimes even as a stand-alone therapy. Furthermore, standard meditation has a long history of clinical research, and has been studied by modern clinicians far more than Medical Meditation. Nonetheless, in my clinical practice, I have employed both standard meditation and Medical Meditation, and have found Medical Meditation to be considerably more powerful, and more predictable.

The greatest advantage of Medical Meditation is its specificity. Because Medical Meditation channels healing energy so precisely, each meditation has a sharp focus. Each is a veritable knifepoint of healing power. Each Medical Meditation solves a distinct, specific problem by bringing energy to targeted organs, glands, and systems, and also to the specific areas of the ethereal body, known as the chakras.

Some researchers believe that the ethereal body can bring healing power to the physical body, and that the physical body can bring healing power to the ethereal body. But even this view, I feel, imposes an artificial distinction. I see no barriers, nor any contradictions, between the physical and ethereal. We are all one, in body, mind, and spirit. We are all physical beings, and we are all ethereal beings. Medical Meditation treats us as such.

Copyright © 2001 by Dharma Singh Khalsa, M.D.

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Table of Contents

Contents

Foreword by Joan Borysenko, Ph.D.

A Personal Prologue

PART ONE

Healing with Medical Meditation

CHAPTER ONE

Introducing Medical Meditation

CHAPTER TWO

Healing the Physical and Ethereal Bodies

How Medical Meditation Works

CHAPTER THREE

Scientific Research on Medical Meditation

PART TWO

The Healing Elements of Medical Meditation

CHAPTER FOUR

Breath

The Kiss of God

CHAPTER FIVE

Posture and Movement

Why Was I Born into This Body?

CHAPTER SIX

Mantra

The Tides and Rhythms of the Universe

CHAPTER SEVEN

Mental Focus

The Mind-Power Effect

CHAPTER EIGHT

Sadhana

Combining the Elements of Healing in Daily Practice

CHAPTER NINE

Medical Meditation Heals Body, Mind, and Spirit

Nicole's Story

PART THREE

Healing with the Chakra System

CHAPTER TEN

The Chakras and Their Dysfunctions

CHAPTER ELEVEN

The First Chakra

The Seat of Survival

CHAPTER TWELVE

The Second Chakra

The Cradle of Creativity

CHAPTER THIRTEEN

The Third Chakra

Father Sun, Mother Earth

CHAPTER FOURTEEN

The Fourth Chakra

From Passion to Compassion

CHAPTER FIFTEEN

The Fifth Chakra

The Voice of Truth

CHAPTER SIXTEEN

The Sixth Chakra

The Path of the Soul

CHAPTER SEVENTEEN

The Seventh and Eighth Chakras

Between Heaven and Earth

Epilogue

Resources and Referrals

Recommended Reading

Regarding Scientific References

Acknowledgments

Index

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First Chapter

Chapter One: Introducing Medical Meditation

Just before dawn, in the intense quiet outside my desert home, slight sun and deep shadow swirl together, coloring the eastern sky a streaked gray, with a slash of brightness at the horizon, promising light. This is not the darkest, but the lightest hour of the night.

As the most distant stars begin to blink off, warmth fights the nighttime chill, and the mix of hot and cold twirls in a breeze that touches my face. As the stillness of night gives way, cardinals and finches begin to tentatively test the quiet. In the hills and canyons behind my house, their songs herald the sun. It reminds me of a proverb: "Faith is the bird that feels the light, and sings while the dawn is still dark."

I discovered that if I listened carefully to the birds that lived around my house, and whistled their own cries — not just generic birdcalls, but each bird's own signature song — they would often answer. A cardinal calls; I do my best to mimic his cry, and I am rewarded with a reply: "Whit-chewww! Whit-whit-whit-whit!" As we trade sounds, I focus on the exquisite beauty of the desert that surrounds my rural Tucson, Arizona, home. I see that the rugged perfection of the desert, with its infinite capacity for survival, reflects the most fundamental secrets of healing: balance, regeneration, and the ability to change.

I feel certain that if I can help my patients find these powers in themselves, I can help them heal. And on this day I will need these powers badly, because a patient is coming to me who has lost faith that a new day will always dawn for her. She has a terrible medical problem, and fears, quite realistically, that she will be paralyzed for the rest of her life.

Sadly, the grip that paralysis holds on her has practically stopped her life, even while she still draws breath. She is still struggling through the motions of life, but she doesn't have much heart or hope left. She is clinging desperately to her old habits and perceptions, as if change itself were death.

I look to the horizon, now pink with blue, close my eyes, and ask God to give me the power to speak to this frightened person in her own language, so that I can reach her center and reignite the spark that has been snuffed. In my mind I can see the sun, brilliant and pulsing, still on the other side of the world.

A force begins to flow into me as I begin my first mantra of the day: "Ong Namo, Guru Dev Namo" ("I bow before my highest self"). It's always my first mantra. On this day, I mean this mantra with all my heart, because I know that only my highest self — the part of me that can feel the universal spirit — can help heal my patient's tortured soul and broken body.

As time falls away, I chant, "Ong Namo, Guru Dev Namo." I can speak the words in English, "I bow before my highest consciousness," but it would not have the same physical effect. The ancient Sanskrit words that I chant every morning have a very specific physiological action. The reverberative sounds in them vibrate the pituitary, just above the roof of my mouth, which changes the secretions of this master gland of the endocrine system.

Obviously, the ancient yoga masters who devised this mantra had no anatomic knowledge of the pituitary, but they did know that the Ong Namo mantra worked. Quite simply, it made people feel more like themselves — their true selves, their highest selves. It doesn't concern me that the ancient masters didn't know about the pituitary, because even today doctors don't know why some of their treatments work — they still don't know why aspirin stops pain, they just know that it does.

The ancient yoga masters taught that this mantra and others should be chanted before dawn. They did not know that the hours just before sunrise are critical to the body's balance of hormones and neurotransmitters, which the pituitary influences. Modern neuroscientists know now that these are the hours during which the endocrine and neurotransmitter balance shifts from relative domination by sleep-inducing melatonin to relative domination by serotonin, norepinephrine, and cortisol. If this shift does not occur smoothly, it can have very distressing, and even disastrous, effects. It can diminish the production of stimulating neurochemicals, and leave people groggy and depressed all day. Or it can have the opposite effect, and cause overproduction of the stress hormone cortisol, which can cause agitation, immune dysfunction, memory loss, and premature aging. The ancient yoga masters knew nothing of the endocrine system, but they did know that there was something magical and empowering in the predawn hours, which they called the ambrosial hours.

As the sun slowly begins to bathe my face in radiance, my sense of personal power, serenity, and intuition continue to expand. I keep meditating, and doing exercises of kundalini yoga. These exercises heighten the presence of life energy, or vitality, which the ancient masters called kundalini. The exercises are the physical element of meditation, and are every bit as important as the mental element, since mind and body are inseparable.

I finish by chanting the Mantra of Ecstasy, "Wahe Guru" ("Out of darkness, into light"). Suddenly a hot knot of fear hits my stomach, hard as a fist. How could I possibly help heal this young woman? She has a spinal injury that is, by all conventional medical reckoning, beyond help. She clearly wants me to work a miracle, but no honest doctor can ever presume that capability.

I vowed over the phone to do whatever I could to help her. But ever since she called, I've been uneasy. Afraid to be totally honest. I was afraid I would let her down, and add to her emptiness. But I pushed down the fear and rationalized it. I went back to my work. On a conscious level, the fear went away.

During my meditation, though, my fear has resurfaced. Maybe my meditative mental state, which is analogous to a hypnotic state, has allowed the fear to break out. Or maybe the yoga I was doing released emotions that I stored in neuropeptides in my abdominal area. I know it may sound like sci-fi to say that emotions can literally be stored in the gut, but the latest neurological research, by Dr. Candace Pert and others, indicates that this astounding mind-body function is quite real. Many of your gut feelings are literally the results of the neurochemicals that abound in your upper intestine.

As quickly as my fear hit, it evaporated. I felt much better, as I always do when meditation lets me release fear or anger. Some people think that meditation is nothing but sitting around feeling blissful, like a latter-day Buddha with a big enlightened smile. But it's not like that. Meditation means opening yourself to the truth. And sometimes the truth hurts.

After I faced my fear, I found myself focusing on my patient in a much clearer, sharper way. Meditation is excellent at removing the obscuring screens of your own personal concerns, and letting you see things the way they really are.

What I see now is a young woman who is suffering more than most people can bear, and who would be grateful for any help she could get. If I can just give to her — give anything — and stop worrying about how much I can give, perhaps I can help her heal.

I open my eyes and feel a rush of compassion for my patient, warm as a wave in the Caribbean. The compassion does not feel like sadness. It feels like joy.

I stand up, and hear the beauty of birds in full concert. The desert, yellow now and vibrating with sun, is alive with the new energy of heat. My day has begun. I am ready. I have gone out of the darkness, into the light.

The Ancient Science and the New Application

When my teacher, Yogi Bhajan, the only master of white tantric yoga in the world, was a boy in India, his yoga master told him to climb into a tree. At that time, it was his teacher who was the only living master, or Mahan Tantric, of white tantric yoga, which is the ultimate yoga to purify and uplift one's being. Therefore Yogi Bhajan, who was then known merely as Harbhajan Singh, dutifully climbed the tree. His master left — and remained gone for three days and three nights. When the master finally returned, his dedicated student was still in the tree. The master asked the student what he had learned. The boy replied that he had learned how to collect water from the rain showers, and which branches the monkeys liked to sleep on. His master nodded, and spoke no more of the experience. But the master continued to teach the boy the secrets of advanced meditation, which had been taught to him — in utmost secrecy — by the yoga masters of the prior era.

For this continued teaching, Yogi Bhajan was profoundly grateful. He felt he was paying a small price for this important knowledge, which had been personally passed from master to student for centuries, and zealously guarded.

The secrets of advanced meditation were shrouded in secrecy because of respect for, and even fear of, their innate power. Just as governments guard state secrets of power, the ancient yoga masters guarded these secrets of spiritual power. They believed that power has the capacity to corrupt, and that it would be disastrous for the wrong person to learn these secrets.

Therefore, these advanced meditations were hidden from the common man, and made available only to disciples proven to have pure hearts. Proving one's purity, of course, required great discipline. For example, as young Yogi Bhajan, or Harbhajan Singh, rose in worldly status — as a prominent athlete, government official, and military officer — he was continually tested by those who guarded the secrets of advanced meditation. Once, when Harbhajan Singh was a high-ranking military officer — and already a renowned yogi — he sought to learn a particular set of meditations, or kriya, from an erudite teacher. He called on the teacher for months, but was never given an audience. Finally, the teacher sent a message that Harbhajan Singh should personally make him a carrot pudding, and deliver it to him, five miles on foot, barefoot, every day for one week. Each day the respected officer left his car and driver five miles from the teacher, took off his boots, and walked the dusty, hot path in his starched uniform, carrying the pudding. At last, he was granted the knowledge.

After many more years of practice and service, Yogi Bhajan was recognized as the Mahan Tantric, the world's leading authority on yoga and meditation. As such, he became the most recent member of the golden chain — the lineage of yoga masters, just one every generation, who have carried forward the practice of advanced meditation.

Then, in 1969, Yogi Bhajan undertook a revolutionary act. Having moved to America, he broke with tradition and began to teach the secrets of Medical Meditation to anyone who had a sincere interest. He offered a simple explanation for breaking the code of silence: "We are in the desert, and I have some water."

Since that time, partly as a result of Yogi Bhajan's efforts, the American interest in meditation has grown geometrically. Currently, over 50 million Americans, or 19 percent of the population, engage in meditation.

Until very recently, most of the interest in meditation has been focused on the most basic, fundamental forms of meditation: Transcendental Meditation, popularized by the Beatles, and the relaxation response, popularized by Harvard's Dr. Herbert Benson. Dr. Benson, who directed a postgraduate course I took at Harvard Medical School, was chiefly concerned with isolating the most obvious healing aspect of meditation, and therefore focused his research almost solely upon simple, worry-free relaxation. In so doing, he made meditation palatable to the medical community. Due to Dr. Benson's work over the past twenty-five or thirty years, a large body of studies has indicated clearly that basic meditation, including the relaxation response, is an extremely viable treatment approach. Hundreds of studies have been performed, and they indicate the following:

  • Meditation creates a unique hypometabolic state, in which the metabolism is in an even deeper state of rest than during sleep. During sleep, oxygen consumption drops by 8 percent, but during meditation, it drops by 10 to 20 percent.
  • Meditation is the only activity that reduces blood lactate, a marker of stress and anxiety.
  • The calming hormones melatonin and serotonin are increased by meditation, and the stress hormone cortisol is decreased.
  • Meditation has a profound effect upon three key indicators of aging: hearing ability, blood pressure, and vision of close objects.
  • Long-term meditators experience 80 percent less heart disease and 50 percent less cancer than nonmeditators.
  • Meditators secrete more of the youth-related hormone DHEA as they age than nonmeditators. Meditating forty-five-year-old males have an average of 23 percent more DHEA than nonmeditators, and meditating females have an average of 47 percent more. This helps decrease stress, heighten memory, preserve sexual function, and control weight.
  • 75 percent of insomniacs were able to sleep normally when they meditated.
  • 34 percent of people with chronic pain significantly reduced medication when they began meditating.

As the body of research on meditation has grown, it's become evident that meditation confers not just strong psychological benefits but also profoundly important physiological benefits. I will go into greater detail on these studies and others in chapter 3.

Another phenomenon that has emerged is that not all meditation is equally effective. For example, most doctors consider techniques such as visualization, guided imagery, progressive relaxation, and affirmations to be forms of meditation, but these techniques lack the medical efficacy of the relaxation response. Similarly, the relaxation response has been shown by studies to be less effective than Transcendental Meditation. A meta-analysis of several hundred studies indicates that Transcendental Meditation exceeds the relaxation response in reducing psychophysical arousal due to stress, decreasing anxiety, increasing mental health, and decreasing drug use. Other studies show that Transcendental Meditation is more effective than the relaxation response at reducing hypertension, reducing mortality in the elderly, and decreasing outpatient visits and medical expenditures.

Similarly, a smaller number of studies indicate that advanced meditation, including Medical Meditation, is more successful than any other form of meditation, including Transcendental Meditation. Some of these studies, though, are ongoing, and have not yet been published. The strongest argument for the superiority of advanced meditation comes from empirical evidence, gleaned from individual clinical practices, such as my own. In my own practice, advanced meditation has clearly outperformed any other form of meditation. When it is used, results are generally more striking, and more immediate.

Due to the progressive nature of my practice, I tend to attract patients who have already participated in other forms of meditation, and these patients are uniformly impressed with the unparalleled quality of Medical Meditation. Quite simply, it succeeds where other forms of meditation fail. Because of this inherent success, there has recently been a grassroots, word-of-mouth movement among the public toward advanced meditation. This approach is much more popular than it was even ten years ago, as is evidenced by increasing enrollment in classes that involve kundalini yoga where Medical Meditation is taught. Also, more books and articles on the subject are in print than ever before, although almost all of them until now have been printed by small specialty publishing houses.

Medical Meditation surpasses the more mundane forms of meditation, I believe, because it more fully addresses every element of our physical and ethereal makeup. It is, to put it plainly, a more full-service approach. It nurtures every aspect of our being.

Medical Meditation

So what exactly is Medical Meditation? It is one of the newest and most cutting-edge advances in the field of integrative medicine. Medical Meditation is the use of advanced meditative techniques in a modern clinical setting. During approximately twenty-five years of medical practice — in which I have specialized in the areas of anesthesiology, pain management, brain regeneration, and integrative medicine — I have adapted and refined the use of kundalini yoga, combined with meditation, as a modality that I refer to as Medical Meditation.

Medical Meditation is not the simple, word-based meditation used to elicit the relaxation response. That type of therapy can be very helpful, and is widely practiced. But it is, in effect, the kindergarten version of Medical Meditation.

Medical Meditation uses advanced meditations, which consist of these unique attributes:

  1. specific breathing patterns;
  2. special postures and movements, including exact positioning of the hands and fingers;
  3. particular mantras, consisting of distinct, vibratory sounds; and
  4. a unique mental focus.

These various attributes fully involve the mind, body, and spirit of the meditator. The combination of all of the attributes exerts a synergistic effect, and endows Medical Meditation with far more power than standard meditation, which often involves simply relaxing.

Because there are so many variables in each Medical Meditation, there are dozens of different Medical Meditations, for a wide variety of medical conditions and illnesses. I have adapted each of these Medical Meditations from ancient advanced meditations that were employed for healing long before the advent of modern medicine. I combine Medical Meditation with the best modern medical techniques.

Each Medical Meditation has a specific physiological effect. There are specific Medical Meditations for arthritis, for heart disease, for AIDS, for cancer, for migraines, for asthma — and for nervous system regeneration. All of these I will share with you.

The clinical precision of Medical Meditation is extraordinary, and is simply not present in standard meditation. Make no mistake: standard meditation is extremely valuable in medical treatment. It has helped effect many recoveries from serious illnesses, when used as an adjunctive therapy, and sometimes even as a stand-alone therapy. Furthermore, standard meditation has a long history of clinical research, and has been studied by modern clinicians far more than Medical Meditation. Nonetheless, in my clinical practice, I have employed both standard meditation and Medical Meditation, and have found Medical Meditation to be considerably more powerful, and more predictable.

The greatest advantage of Medical Meditation is its specificity. Because Medical Meditation channels healing energy so precisely, each meditation has a sharp focus. Each is a veritable knifepoint of healing power. Each Medical Meditation solves a distinct, specific problem by bringing energy to targeted organs, glands, and systems, and also to the specific areas of the ethereal body, known as the chakras.

Some researchers believe that the ethereal body can bring healing power to the physical body, and that the physical body can bring healing power to the ethereal body. But even this view, I feel, imposes an artificial distinction. I see no barriers, nor any contradictions, between the physical and ethereal. We are all one, in body, mind, and spirit. We are all physical beings, and we are all ethereal beings. Medical Meditation treats us as such.

Copyright © 2001 by Dharma Singh Khalsa, M.D.

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  • Posted September 15, 2009

    Medicine without the pills

    I believe that most would appreciate the power of meditation. This book illustrates the value of meditation as a way to heal the mind, body and soul. It teaches and explains the benefit of balancing and centering the body's physical and spiritual energies with easy to practice meditation. I do not speculate the dissolving of western medicine with meditation, however, the combination of the two could be very effective. This book is worth the money and time -- highly recommended!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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