It’s not as if there’s some particular creed or religion that leads to a healthier life. Meditation will do the trick just fine. The physical benefits of meditation are well known — like prayer, it bolsters the immune system, lowers blood pressure, and over time can improve stress-related conditions, including insomnia, arthritis, and heart disease. Nonbelievers, rejoice! And new research is turning up more and unexpected health benefits to meditation.
For one thing, it seems to make people smarter. A recent study showed that the brain area responsible for planning, decision making, and other high-level activities doesn’t deteriorate with age in longtime meditators. And even newer research suggests that meditators may be getting the same mental and physical pick-me-up that we normally get from sleep. Bruce O’Hara, Ph.D., an associate professor of biology at the University of Kentucky, has discovered that meditation gives people a huge performance boost: 40 minutes in the lotus position is the equivalent of drinking 4 to 5 cups of coffee. In his latest research, which isn’t yet published, he got a clue as to why. O’Hara recorded meditators’ brain waves with an EEG (electroencephalogram) machine and found that their brain cells were firing in unison, much the way they do during deep slumber. “Meditation could be restorative in the same way as sleep,” he says.
Source : Choosing a Religion