Healing from Within

Dr. Tom Diamond’s system of Health Meditating is geared to work for today’s Western mind.

“Once you experience self-healing—once you know what it feels like—it stays deep within you, ambulance ” says Tom Diamond.

Photo by Boomer Jerritt

When Tom Diamond was 15, phthisiatrician he discovered the healing power of meditation first hand.  He’d been a fairly typical high-school student, with no particular interest in esoteric practices or alternative healing.  And at first, the flu he caught seemed typical as well, but unlike typical flus, it didn’t go away.  And didn’t go away.  And didn’t go away.  There were doctor visits, tests, hypotheses, but the end result was a medical diagnosis of “mysterious virus” and a shrug in place of a treatment plan.

The situation was miserable: Diamond was unable to go school or do much of anything, feeling lousy all the time, and with no prognosis of improvement.

“I felt helpless,” says Diamond.  After about six months of this, Diamond found meditation on his own, falling into a practice that he made up as he went along, encouraged by the simple fact that it was working.  The first thing that improved was his sleep, and once he was well-rested, he felt like getting up—at that point, a novel and miraculous feeling.  Within a month, he was back to his regular life.  He didn’t, however, forget about meditation.

“Once you experience self-healing—once you know what it feels like—it stays deep within you.  I had such a sense of power!” says Diamond.  He began to read and study about healing, meditation and the science of the mind-body connection… and he hasn’t stopped since.

Now, some 35 years later and living in the Comox Valley, Dr. Diamond is on a mission to “bring meditation to the masses” as founder and teacher of Health Meditating, a user-friendly system that combines ancient wisdom and modern science, offering an approach to meditation expressly designed for the modern western mind.

Over the past few decades, Diamond’s powerful initiation into meditation has been augmented by a MA and PhD psychology, years of professional experience as a clinical psychologist, organizational psychology consultant, researcher and university teacher, and decades of studies in various forms of meditation and alternative healing, including a formative year spent in India and Nepal learning from the masters.

His vision is that meditating, which he likes to call “neuro-fitness,” will become as mainstream as physical fitness.  There are easily as many meditation techniques as there are types of exercise, Diamond points out (in fact, one branch of Buddhism claims to include 84,000 ways to meditate).  Just as it is now the norm for people to go the gym, jog, play sports, or go to fitness classes, he envisions it being the norm for people to meditate regularly.

The result would be better health, longer lives, and happier relationships, says Diamond.  And if you’re thinking that claim sounds just a tad unrealistic, take note: it’s backed up by hard science.

Although rigorous research into the health effects of meditation is still fairly new, the results are making the medical establishment sit up and take notice.  Meditation has been proven to help measurably with a host of medical problems including blood pressure, headaches, thyroid imbalance, arthritis, skin conditions, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, asthma, cancer, depression, anxiety and the common cold.

Diamond can cite specific studies and has a lengthy list of references on his website.  Here’s a smattering of some of his favorite facts: meditation lowers risk of death from heart disease by 77 per cent, reduces early death by 50 per cent, prolongs life by 10 years, and reduces measures of physiological age in seniors by up to 25 years.  It has been proven to improve sports, career and academic performance, and to contribute to the ability to maintain healthy personal relationships.

In his classes, Diamond uses technology such as the Proteus light sound stimulation system, a tool that teaches the brain to relax. He also uses biofeedback aids to measure the effects of different meditative techniques.

Photo by Boomer Jerritt

At its heart, meditation is about something very simple—the creation of a state of profound relaxation.  Relaxation—true, deep relaxation, not just taking it easy in front of the TV—is essential for our well-being.

“Meditation is in fact a natural thing to do,” says Diamond.  “But we in North America don’t value rest and relaxation as much as we should.  We need a way to slow down.  Stress is on the rise throughout the west.  Sleep is on the decline.  Obesity is on the rise.  Diabetes is on the rise.  These are all linked to stress.  In fact, according to the American Medical Association, 60 per cent of all disease is caused by stress in some way.  Meditation is a clear and reasonable antidote.”

Studies of meditators show significant decreases in stress hormones and concurrent increases in hormones and neurotransmitters that help the body heal and restore itself, as well as induce feelings of well-being.

“The body changes when you meditate.  The brain changes; some areas get active, some get calm, some grow.  Meditators actually grow neuronal connections that make staying in silence easy,” says Diamond.

Diamond wants these benefits to be available to everyone, but he’s observed that many traditional meditation approaches don’t lend themselves to the sort of mass appeal he believes is warranted.

“Many [meditation] traditions have overtones of religion and superstition that aren’t necessary from a scientific, medical point of view.  I wanted to take away the clutter and get right to profound relaxation.

“If the spirituality is there for someone, that’s great, but it should never be forced on anyone.  Meditation has such a widespread set of tools that can help anyone with so many of the important things in life—sports, career, love, health, family, wellbeing.  This has to be available to everyone, regardless of their spiritual beliefs.  And spirituality is such a private experience, when you start mixing it with group dynamics and leaders and commerce… it’s not always a good mix.”

At the same time, Diamond has great respect for, and curiosity about, the many ancient meditation and healing traditions.  Indeed, he has studied a number of them in depth, and he weaves their teachings into the blend that creates the foundation of Health Meditating.

“I’m not doing my system in opposition to others,” he says.  “But rather I’m taking the best of different systems to offer something that works for the Western mind.”

In particular, Health Meditating reflects Diamond’s studies of Kundalini Yoga, Buddhism and Yoga Nidra (a yogic deep meditation tradition).  To these ingredients, he adds his psychology background, elements of biofeedback, and his own techniques, which he began developing in his teens.

A Health Meditating session (Diamond offers workshops, courses and private consultations) tends to include a wide variety of practices.  Diamond might begin by explaining, in clear lay terms, the science and physiology of stress, meditation, and the mind-body connection.  He’ll follow this with simple, small-scale yoga movements, gentle warm-up and energy-stimulation exercises, breathing practices, Acupressure, and guided visualisations.

Diamond also brings in technology—there are low tech foot and back massage tools that simply feel good, and also there are biofeedback aids that students can use to measure the effects of different meditative techniques.  Diamond says that most people, in one session, can learn to bring down stress levels in a measurable way (i.e. changing their heart rate, blood pressure, and galvanic skin response) purely through mental practices.  The biofeedback technology makes this immediately visible and provides objective, unbiased information about the effects of the techniques being taught.

Diamond has been teaching a series of workshops and courses at the Comox Recreation Centre, each focusing on a theme he feels is particularly relevant to people today: Better Sleep, Energy and Vitality Booster, Senior Health and Vitality, and Extreme Stress Buster.  More topics are coming soon, such as Healthy Weight and Body Image, and Sports Focus and Performance.  He also offers an “All You Can Meditate” fall pass that gets students into all classes.

This nod to gym culture is deliberate, he says.  “Gyms have been very successful at making fitness a regular part of people’s lives.  This can happen with meditation.  I’d like to see meditation happening in the mall, at conferences and in airports.  I want to make it easy, local and cheap for everyone.

“My vision is not only to make it mainstream, but to have it become a daily practice.  I really struck gold in my life when meditation became a daily part of my life.  It’s more restful than sleep!  In fact, studies have shown that experienced, regular meditators need less sleep.”

While Diamond’s passion for sharing meditation is clearly focused on health and neuro-fitness, on a personal level he also values the less measurable gifts that meditation brings.

“Meditation has brought me some amazing inner experiences.  When I came back from India, my eyes were so open; I saw beauty everywhere I looked.  To me, enlightenment means every minute is beautiful and it’s a joy to be alive,” he says.

If Diamond’s teen discovery of meditation set the seed for the creation of Health Meditating, it was the year-long trip to India and Nepal that prompted that seed to germinate.  But it took another 10 years or so for it to bear fruit.  Diamond was busy with a successful career as a psychologist and academic, and at the same time he was also working out some big, archetypal questions.

“I’d always had two strong bents: I was a scientist, and I was a meditator,” he explains.  “A lot of times those two sides had battled, and a lot of times they had come together.  Basically, it was a split between intuition and rationality.  After India, the battle intensified.  The internal dialogue and the search for a resolution intensified.”

India, he says, provided incredible nourishment for his intuitive side.

“India is so rich in culture and experience.  You can travel 10 feet and hear 10 different languages.  It’s packed with sights and smells and ideas.  There’s a vibrancy to the Indian mind that’s very open.  There’s no sense of guardedness.  You can meet someone new and within minutes you’re having a very deep, very meaningful conversation,” he says.  And while immersed in this very rich, open and transformative culture, he was also studying meditation, travelling to ashrams, visiting gurus and even learning from a traditional wandering yogi.

“It rocked my world,” he says of the experience.  He returned home brimming with energy and life—and the realization that he had to fit himself back into the intellectual and domestic concerns of Western life.  He didn’t want to lose what he’d experienced in India, nor to reject Western values.  Instead, he wanted to integrate all of it.

“It took about a decade to resolve all that,” he says with a bit of a laugh.  “And during that time my interest in my professional life was waning.  It became clear to me that what I really wanted to do involved meditation.  So I thought a lot about how to do that.  I spent a lot of time meditating on meditation!”

The result was the creation of Health Meditating as a unique approach to meditation, and as a business.  For Diamond, it is the perfect blend of science and spirituality, feeling and intellect, intuition and logic.  And both sides of him—his intuition and his intellect—tell him it’s an effective way to bring meditation to the masses, so that everyone can have access to the sort of healing and life-enriching benefits Diamond has experienced.

For more information on Health Meditating and Dr. Tom Diamond call 250-941-5596 or visit