Imagine that on a journey through India, you witnessed the spectacle of a young man whose tongue and cheeks have been pierced with large bamboo needles – yet there is no bleeding, and the man feels no pain.
Such a spectacle has been recorded on film and documented in National Geographic. The young man in the photo was a Hindu adept, who at the time had achieved a state of consciousness that allowed him to mentally control his bodily functions.
While some suggest that meditation can actually restore the body to optimal health, there is as yet no scientific basis for this. However, mesothelioma and other cancer patients have successfully used meditation techniques to control the symptoms of the disease as well as the side effects of mesothelioma treatment.
Meditation Throughout History and the World
Anecdotal evidence suggests that practitioners of Eastern religions can control their heart rate and even take poisons without suffering any effects, through the art of meditation. It has been suggested that similar mediation techniques were once part of the Western Abrahamic traditions during the early and High Middle Ages as well. Several forms of Christian mysticism were prevalent at the time (its eradication was a major goal of the Holy Inquisition), and such mysticism – of which meditation is a large component – remains an element of Hassidic and Kabbalic Judaism and Sufi Islam to the present day.
Meditation is defined as mental focus on a single point of reference – or none at all (the Buddhist concept of “non-being”). An entry on the topic at Wikipedia describes no less than fifteen different forms of meditation associated with virtually every major religious faith on the planet.
Whether it is a religious practice or one of the several secular forms of meditation developed in recent decades (such as bio-feedback or autogenic training), all forms of meditative practice have the same components:
Highly focused concentration
Altered state of consciousness
Suspension of left-brain functions
High and sustained level of self-awareness
Benefits and Implications for Cancer Patients
There have been numerous medical studies into the physiological effects of meditation techniques; such techniques are now actually part of mainstream medicine as a way for patients to deal with pain without resorting to medication.
Of greater interest to asbestos cancer patients is a 30-year-old report, originally published in the Medical Journal of Australia, in which author Ainsley Meares documented cases in which tumors began a degree of regression after periods of deep meditation.
In general, meditation is one of the most effective ways known for relaxing the body, strengthening the immune system and altering one’s consciousness.
Those who seek to alter their consciousness by way of drugs and hallucinogenic substances are essentially taking a “short cut;” aside from the chemical effects on the physiology of brain and body, these short-cuts take the user to a level of consciousness for which they are frequently ill-prepared. Traditional meditation techniques take time to learn, allowing the subject to become “acclimatized” to these higher levels of consciousness. In addition, there are no harmful physiological side effects, and no monetary costs involved.
It Does Not Replace Conventional Therapy
The observations of Ainsley Meares notwithstanding, it is important for mesothelioma patients to continue with all conventional therapies as prescribed by their oncologists. Patients who are considering meditation should consider speaking with a fellow patient who has used, or is currently using, meditation techniques.
This said, meditation, like all CAM therapies, is not a substitute replacement for conventional treatment. Nonetheless, it has been shown to be an effective supplement for such treatments.