This chapter examines the psychology of meditation as well as its physiological effects. Relief from the distractions of wandering thoughts and the relaxation of muscle tension are among the conceptual goals of meditation. The physiological consequences of meditation are not inherently obvious; its practitioners describe it as a healthful expression of mental and emotional relaxation. This relaxation generally leads to reduced muscle tension, and this condition is reflected in slowed respiration and depressed metabolism. Beyond its modest decline of about ten percent during sleep, a further depression of the metabolic rate for whatever reason is noteworthy in humans due to its uncommon occurrence. In contrast, submerged resting seals and sea lions are likely to routinely experience metabolic suppression to half or less of their nondiving value, and hibernating bears to one-quarter of their nonhibernating condition. In recent years, the more contemplative aspects of yoga have been adopted by devotees of Transcendental Meditation (TM).
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