There are many forms of meditation, ranging in complexity from strict, regulated practices to general recommendations. If practiced regularly, meditation is thought to help develop habitual, unconscious microbehaviours that can potentially produce widespread positive effects on physical and psychological functioning. Meditation even for 15 minutes twice a day has been shown to bring beneficial results.
Most theories are based on the assumption that meditation is a sophisticated form of relaxation involving a concept called the parasympathetic response. Psychological stress is associated with activation of the sympathetic component of the autonomic nervous system which, in its extreme, causes the ‘fight or flight response’. Meditation and any form of rest or relaxation acts to reduce sympathetic activation by reducing the release of catecholamines and other stress hormones such as
cortisol, and promoting increased parasympathetic activity which in turn slows the heart rate and
improves the flow of blood to the viscera and away from the periphery.
Other neurophysiological effects
Other proponents claim that meditation involves unique neurophysiological effects; however, this remains to be proven. Research at the Meditation Research Program suggests the limbic system may be involved in Sahaja Yoga Meditation since significant effects involving mood state have been consistently observed.