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Meditation has been getting some hot news this year. Check out the Yoga magazine which devoted an issue to the healing effects of meditation.
Yoga Magazine on Meditation    (requires a subscription to Yoga Magazine)
As Leila Easa says in her intro, "My friend's teachers believe that meditation has a deep power to heal the body and boost the immune system."
In response to this here are a few observations about the benefits of meditation from my own experience.
Meditation tames the monkey mind -- monkeys flit from tree to tree, and the mind moves from idea to idea. This lets one see the impact of thoughts. It enables a sense of insight without words. This allows feelings to surface. Suddenly one finds a safe haven of peace. The awareness level changes, things come into focus that had not been seen. The ability to focus increases. The listening skills hones with an ability to become a receptor -- clearing excess thoughts, feelings, and emotions.
Meditation quiets the body, mind, and spirit. The most obvious sign is a lowered pulse. Over time it smooths out the nerves -- a calming effect. It activates the channels and fills the chakras. One feels a warm, embracing feeling. It harmonizes the channels as they soften and deepen. This quieting increases the exchange of oxygen via slow breathing. It promotes longevity.
Meditation experiments with energy flows within the body. With this flow another set of changes occur. One begins to tune into the sacred nature of life. Life can be taken or spared with the breath. One senses the connection of the energy with the breath. The pathways of Qi become sensations that are palpable. It builds fields of strength -- where the Qi gathers. This can be felt markedly in the chakras and the center of the hands & feet. Qi pathways begin to work as nerve pathways. Qi becomes the safer path of least resistance in the body changes. That energy begins to connect with that spirit-that-moves-through-all- things. A new respect for life arises. Healing modalities develop as our gift or gifts are understood. We begin to sense the gifts and inner workings of others -- within all life's kingdoms.
I believe meditation is within many different modalites from the gentle stretching of yoga to the slow movements within the tai chi ch'uan forms. The powerful Qi Qong that we learn is a meditative experience. Be sure and embrace the meditative side for it will begin to teach and guide one through a remarkable journey. The door is only waiting for one to open it.