Sometimes it's what you do between training sessions that can affect your physical abilities the most. With that in mind, Robert Wang, M.D., explores the short- and long-term physiological benefits of meditation.

Meditation is an integral part of many Asian systems of self-defense. As martial artists, we understand that meditation techniques can bring a sense of calm and centeredness that's especially crucial in chaotic situations. Whether we're talking about training, real-life combat or just everyday life, having the right state of mind in the face of adversity is something we all desire. Like with any other skill, our ability in meditation techniques improves with practice. Those who practice meditation techniques regularly say they feel calmer, more resourceful and more prepared to handle whatever challenges they encounter. For centuries, martial arts masters have taught their students that meditation fosters an optimal state of mind and helps increase martial power. They've also preached meditation benefits such as improvements in overall health by bolstering stress management and even combating disease. These meditation benefits that masters have always known are getting closer to being proven by science.


Get your FREE to famous Bruce Lee quotes and their interpretation by Richard Bustillo, Taky Kimura, Ted Wong and others!
Bruce Lee Quotes: 10 Jeet Kune Do Masters Examine Bruce Lee's Philosophy

A team of psychiatrists from Harvard Medical School is researching how meditation techniques can affect the genes and the brain activity of people who suffer from chronic stress. Through a rigorous five-year study using the latest neuroimaging and genomic technology, scientists are investigating how mind-body harmony through meditation techniques can turn on and off genes that have been linked to stress and immune function. This research into meditation benefits is exciting because it takes us deeper into the relationship between meditation and human physiology.

Other studies have reported the discovery of meditation benefits, but those findings were based on variables such as participant-reported feelings, heart rate and blood pressure. The Harvard study regarding meditation benefits is enabling us to examine on a deeper level the effects of meditation techniques on the human body. The evidence indicates that the reason we feel less stressed and healthier when we meditate is the genes that control stress and the immune system are being manipulated.

Inflammation and stress are generally bad for the body — particularly if they're present for sustained periods. We know that stress is a natural part of life, however. As martial artists, we face it constantly in the dojo. What enables us to cope — and even thrive — is the subsequent recovery period during which the stress is removed. We desperately need time to recuperate so we can be ready and refreshed when we have to tackle another stressor. Meditation seems to control our genes in a way that helps shut down stress, thus allowing us to consciously bring about that recuperation period.

Need more evidence regarding meditation benefits? You've probably wondered why masters who meditate appear healthier, more vibrant and younger than others their age. Well, scientists at UCLA found that engaging in 12 minutes of yoga meditation daily for eight weeks increased the body's supply of telomerase, which they've dubbed the “immortality enzyme." Telomerase actually slows the cellular aging process.

As we live our lives, we should remember that although pharmaceuticals are necessary for the treatment of many illnesses and conditions, meditation techniques are a tried-and-true way to help us reduce stress and — when combined with proper nutrition, rest and exercise — avoid those illnesses in the first place.

About the Author:

Robert Wang, M.D., is a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. He's an orthopedic surgeon specializing in sports medicine.

Related Martial Arts Books, E-Books,
DVDs and Video Downloads

Full-Contact Karate: Advanced Sparring Techniques and Hard-Core Physical Conditioning

The Complete Ninja Collection by Stephen K. Hayes

Bruce Lee: Wisdom for the Way

SUBSCRIBE TO BLACKBELT MAGAZINE TODAY!
Don't miss a single issue of the world largest magazine of martial arts.

Talks About Being a Smaller Fighter in a Combat Sport Ruled by Giants

At first glance, most people — most martial artists, even — will zero in on the smaller person in any fight and deem him or her to be at a distinct disadvantage. It's a natural tendency to draw this conclusion based on obvious attributes such as height, weight and reach. However, that tendency does not always lead to accurate conclusions.

Keep Reading Show less

Intuition is always right in at least two important ways. It is always in response to something. It always has your best interest at heart. ­— Gavin de Becker

When intuition grabs our attention to warn us of danger in our surroundings, it often feels like an alarm going off in our body. When danger is present, the sensation we feel, in the words of some people, is like an electric current that starts in the gut and radiates outward. Others have described the feeling as a chill running up the spine or a generalized lack of comfort.

The commonality is a definite sense of unease, a nagging feeling that won't go away. There also might be a flash of insight or a sensation that comes to us, one that we never sought out.

Keep Reading Show less

Bellator 242 Official Fight Bard

Bellator 242 will officially be the promotions return to the spotlight on July 24th since canceling its remaining events due to COVID earlier this year. The main event for the card will feature Ricky Bandejas vs. Sergio Pettis.

As promoters and fans alike begin to settle in to the new normal, Bellator MMA has announced it will resume fights beginning with Bellator 242 July 24th. With UFC, One Championship, Invicta FC, and many other small promotions having already returned fans have been anxiously awaiting Bellators next move.

Keep Reading Show less

ONE Championship is set to return on July 31 in Bangkok, and now the full card has been finalized with four ONE Super Series bouts and two mixed martial arts affairs.

Previously announced was the top of the ticket with two title tilts and an epic trilogy bout of two high-profile signees making their organizational debut.

In the main event, Rodtang Jitmuangnon puts his ONE Flyweight World Championship on the line against Petchdam Petchyindee Academy. This will also be a trilogy bout for the headliners with the series even at 1-1.

Keep Reading Show less
Free Bruce Lee Guide
Have you ever wondered how Bruce Lee’s boxing influenced his jeet kune do techniques? Read all about it in this free guide.
Don’t miss a thing Subscribe to Our Newsletter