Winter in Minnesota. Yes, we’re a tough lot; we wear our puffy parkas as coats of honor (sometimes paired with cargo shorts) and revel in telling our friends and relatives in warmer climes about our wind chill factors. But for many people, the lack of sunlight in this season triggers an unhappy response, a clinical depression that’s commonly referred to as Seasonal Affective Disorder or S.A.D.
Meditation can be a way to release calming hormones, suppress stress hormones, induce full-body relaxation and stimulate the pineal gland, greatly alleviating the sometimes debilitating effects of S.A.D.*
E. Leskowitz of the Department of Psychiatry at Boston’s VA Outpatient Clinic conducted a study in 1989 that pointed to the role of the pineal gland on S.A.D.:
The pineal gland is responsible for the body’s sleep/wake patterns; it is a photosensitive organ (via the eyes) and its production of sleep-inducing melatonin are increased during darkness and decreased during the day. The relationship between the pineal gland and the shortened days of winter is not understood; but stimulation of the pineal gland by meditating appears to be an effective treatment.
Practicing meditation each day can stabilize fluctuating moods and energy levels associated with S.A.D. A few minutes a day spent on re-establishing the body’s innate ability to heal itself is worth it.
*If you have any specific questions about any medical matter you should consult your doctor or other professional healthcare provider.