Doctors have long known that the great wildcard in healing is the human mind. The will to live in a patient can make the difference between recovery and prolonged sickness, even between life and death. Now, recent scientific discoveries are leading the medical community to a far more specific conclusion: The quality of our thoughts and feelings directly affect the body’s systems, including the immune system. No longer can there be any doubt that the mind profoundly influences physical health.

Today we are witnessing a revolution in modern medical understanding: Mind and body are no longer seen as entirely separate from each other, but as two facets of one whole. As a result of this revolution, meditation has become a widely accepted tool in the treatment of heart disease and other stress-related illnesses.

How can a purely mental practice like meditation influence physical health? In the 1970’s numerous well-designed scientific studies confirmed that meditation rapidly produces a state of rest and relaxation much deeper than the deepest rest achieved during an entire night’s sleep. This profound, rejuvenating rest frees a person from stress and tension, generating well-being healing to mind, emotions, and body.

Doctors agree that a buildup of stress and tension poses one of the most substantial threats to mental, emotional, and physical health. So whether suffering from heart disease, high blood pressure, ulcers, colds and flu’s, depression, anxiety, or fatigue—or whether you simply want to feel better, more alert and alive—meditation is a tool no longer to be ignored.

An ancient Taoist proverb says, “When you have a disease, do not try to find a cure; find your center, and you will be healed.” Many cultures around the world have long recognized the power of our thoughts and feelings to affect physical health. Finally, Medical Science is placing its stamp of approval on this understanding. Isn’t it about time that we benefit from this ancient wisdom? Is it really so surprising that the wisdom of the ages might just hold the answers we seek?

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As healing as the deep rest of meditation may be, rest alone is not be the last word in terms of creating optimal health through meditation. For thousands of years, yogis have claimed that the key to health and longevity lies in the harmonious, balanced, and unrestricted flow of prana (life-force, similar to the Chinese concept of chi) through the nadis (subtle channels conducting energy). When the subtle, energetic body is in balance, the physical body enjoys improved health and vitality. This is also the basic principle of Chinese acupuncture and the health-giving practice of Tai Chi.

Indian and Tibetan manuscripts speak of particular advanced meditative and yogic practices based upon this principle. These have been employed by yogis for centuries to vastly accelerate their spiritual growth, while optimizing physical health and lifespan.

Over the past 30 years of studying with enlightened masters and yogis, Ajayan has researched these ancient techniques. In addition to beginning courses in meditation, he now teaches these practices. Effective in enlivening and refining prana and clearing the nadis, they expand consciousness while filling body and mind with the power and vitality of that consciousness. As such, they hold tremendous promise in furthering our explorations of the healing power of the mind. (See Classes.)