Category Archives: Health

Meditation Benefits

A great deal of research has been done to study meditation in the last 50 years or more. This expansive body of research has also revealed numerous psychological benefits of meditation to which most committed meditators can testify. While it may be a new field of exploration for western science, the connections between the body and the mind are not new to the spiritual sciences.

Much attention has been given to the physiological benefits of meditation and they are numerous. All the physiological benefits of meditation quite naturally have a corresponding benefit at the psychological level.

The reduction of stress at the physiological level that meditation brings, produces a reduction in the feelings of anxiety at the psychological level. A methodical review of nearly 150 studies showed that practicing meditation was distinctly more effective at diminishing anxiety than other techniques. Sometimes anxiety becomes paralyzing and overwhelming in the form of panic attacks. Panic attacks are often treated with drugs, but studies by Jon Kabat-Zinn, Ph.D., associate professor of medicine at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center in Worcester and director of the medical centers Stress Reduction Clinic, show that if people who are suceptable to panic attacks start focused, meditative breathing as soon as they feel the first signs of an attack, they are significantly less likely to have a full-blown episode.

Meditation has also consistently proven to reduce depression, aggression, and unstable emotions. Psychologists read this as indicating growth of a more stable, balanced, and resilient personality. Another review analyzing the statistics from over forty independent research studies, found meditation to effectively increase self-actualization (a broad evaluation of positive mental health and self development). More study revealed meditation to be remarkably effective in progressing three separate characteristics of self-actualization, those being, emotional maturity, a strong and resilient sense of self, and a positive, cohesive view of oneself and the world.

Feelings of helplessness, hopelessness and isolation are hallmarks of depression which is America’s most common mental health problem. Meditation has been found to increase both self-confidence and feelings of connection to others. Numerous studies have demonstarted that people experiencing depression feel much better after experiencing the ‘relaxation response’ of meditation. Practicing meditation has also proven to reduce relapse rates by 50%. Brain scans studies show that meditation shifts activity in the prefrontal cortex (behind the forehead) from the right hemisphere to the left. People who have a negative disposition tend to be right-prefrontal dominant while those who are left-prefrontal dominant have more enthusiasm, interests, relax more, and tend to just be happier.

The research on meditation has shown significant improvements in mental health, memory, concentration, and productivity. Studies testing beginer meditators using a button-pressing task that required speed and concentration showed performance was better for 40 minutes of meditation than after a 40-minute nap.

Meditators notice more, but react more calmly than non-meditators to emotionally arousing stimuli. Those with smoking, alcohol, and eating addictions who have been taught meditation break their addictions with significantly lower relapse rates than those receiving standard therapies.

Middle school children who practice meditation show improved work habits, attendance, and GPA (grade point average).

Brain scans of meditators show increased thickness in regions of the cortex associated with higher functions like memory and decision making.

Meditation appears to slow aging. Those meditating five years or more were 12 years younger than their chronological age. Obviously this has both physical and mental benefits.

Overall meditation can help most people feel less anxious and more in control. The awareness that meditation brings can also be a source of personal insight and self-understanding.

The research results will continue highlighting specific points of benefit from meditating, and this will only help to broaden the acceptance of meditation in the culture at large. This type of research can analyse in minute detail the subtle chemical changes in the brain and body that practising meditation produces. It can also measure the psychological improvements, all of this data from reductionist science however, doesn’t really help us to understand meditation.

The first thing that leads to these benefits is not the practice of meditation itself but the desire and commitment to do it. Wanting to meditate and being willing to do it indicates the desire for greater self-awareness and well-being. It is a willingness to take time to be with oneself, no matter what. This in itself is an enormous step for many people. Modern culture is completely oriented towards self distraction through an endless barrage of images and information. The focus is completely external and stimulates the perpetuation of desire.

Each of us regardless of a life circumstances carries within us pains and fears from the past. For the vast majority of us, for the vast majority of the time, these feelings, emotions, and their responding beliefs, influence us subconsciously. Meditation creates the opportunity for our attention to turn inwards and for these things to be made conscious. Without this conscious awareness of our inner fears, pains, and limiting beliefs, the habitual tendency is to project them outwards onto other people and the world at large. Through the practice of meditation, as these things reveal themselves within us, we can expand the depth of our self-awareness, self-responsibility, and develop an increasing empathy for others.

Reasons to Use a Self-Healing Meditation

Do you want to take control of your health? Join the club! Many people are actively changing their lifestyles for the better, to boost their health and reduce their dependence on the medical establishment, and for many, self-healing meditation plays an important role in this process. Here we’ll take a look at some of the reasons why meditating for better health is a great thing to do.

Firstly, it makes sense because the mind and body are inextricably connected, and your mental state exerts a huge influence over your physical health. Sure, most people depend on drugs and surgery to deal with illness; after all, this approach has the backing of science, and is what just about everybody does. But the fact remains that while such interventions can useful or even essential in some cases, true healing comes from within, and we’re all much more powerful than conventional medicine would have us believe. The existence of people who have overcome serious illnesses by using visualisation and similar mind-body techniques is testament to that.

Secondly, it costs nothing to meditate, except some of your time, and possibly a meditation recording if you choose to use one. It’s certainly much cheaper to meditate then it is to pay for conventional treatment. Now while you should always follow your doctor’s advice, and continue with any necessary medications or other treatment plans for your condition, there’s usually no reason why you can’t add meditation as part of your healing regime as well. If nothing else, it’ll help you feel more relaxed and less stressed, which can in itself have a positive knock-on effect on your general well-being.

Thirdly, a self-healing meditation can be used to great effect by those who are currently healthy, as a preventative measure. Do this and you may be less likely to become ill, because meditation provides an effective way to deal with stress, which underlies many modern illnesses. In addition, you’ll gain a great sense of self-empowerment by taking more responsibility for your own health and well-being – which is something that far more people need to do in this era where we’re actively encouraged hand over our power to the medical establishment and the big-business pharmaceutical industry.

While there are many health-related meditations available, the most powerful include brainwave entrainment recordings which take your brain down into a delta brainwave state. Delta waves are very low-frequency brain waves which are predominantly produced when we’re in deep sleep, and delta wave production is associated with enhanced bodily healing and regeneration. This is partly why getting plenty of sleep of the right type is so important to your health.

Using a suitable brainwave recording can help you to spend more time in the delta state even while you’re still awake, thus giving your body an extra chance to boost its healing processes.

The Proven Physical Benefits of Meditation

It’s generally accepted that meditation is an exceptional exercise for your mental well-being; it’s helpful to recognize that meditation can have just as many benefits for your physical well-being.

Meditation is constantly undergoing scientific scrutiny. Through several studies, researchers have proven that meditation can have some surprisingly beneficial effects for your body. Outlined below are some of the physical benefits of meditation that have been proven by scientific research.

Meditation can help prevent sickness and alleviate its physical symptoms.

Stress has a direct impact on the responsiveness of your immune system. Meditation is an effective practice for reducing stress, which may explain how it also improves immune response.

In a study published in the Psychosomatic Medicine journal, a group of meditators that were given a flu-shot showed higher levels of antibodies than the non-meditating group. The same study also showed that meditators had increased brain activity in areas linked with positive emotions.

This improved immune response can be beneficial for alleviating the symptoms of a broad range of health related issues.
Meditation should never replace conventional medical treatment recommended by your doctor. If you have questions about whether meditation can help in your particular case, then you may want to discuss the benefits and potential side effects with your health professional.

Meditation reduces fatigue

If you’re having trouble getting through the day, then it might be time for a meditation break. Studies show that meditation helps increase alertness, and counteracts fatigue. During testing, the reduction in fatigue allowed meditators to perform at high levels of cognitive performance, even if they had missed sleeping the night before.

Meditation reduces the impact of physical pain

Reducing pain can be an important benefit for people who suffer chronic physical pain. Chronic pain can often lead to mental health issues, with symptoms such as depressed, worried and anxious thinking. Fortunately, studies show that meditation can help relieve the direct experience of physical pain. It can also give sufferers the mental fortitude to consciously direct their response in times of difficult circumstances. The reduction in perceived physical pain can be beneficial to mental and emotional health as well.

The Several Health Benefits of Qigong Meditation

Qigong certainly has several health benefits. In China, it already became a part of their national health care system. More and more people also from other parts of the world today are beginning to acknowledge the wisdom of practicing this kind of health meditation. By practicing Qigong, it will help you feel good by bringing you relaxation, better energy, a calmer mind and a happier state of being. There are already several scientific researches that document Qigong’s healing effects.

According to Qigong master Kenneth Cohen, this ancient form of meditation can be translated as ‘working with life energy, learning how to control the flow and distribution of qi to improve the health and harmony of mind and body.’ In this kind of meditation, we develop our ability to feel qi, build and store qi, as well as circulate qi smoothly throughout the body. With this smooth flow of qi, we can attain physical health, emotional balance, mental clarity, and spiritual integration. This article will talk about the several benefits of Qigong meditation.

Develops Invigorating Energy and Mental Alertness

One of the health benefits of Qigong is that it builds invigorating energy within your body. With regular practice of Qigong, you can obtain mental alertness and physical energy that will last throughout the day. For advance practitioners, there are some exercises that are strenuous enough that it can build physical stamina and strength to the body.

One of the best exercises of Qigong is its breathing techniques. It makes efficient use of oxygen and circulation of oxygen in the blood that the practitioner will become invigorated with physical energy. With the efficient breathing techniques, Qigong able to promote mental alertness and mental health of the individual since the brain use up more than 80% of all the oxygen in the body.

Great Way to Keep Fit

If you want to keep fit, then, Qigong has a lot to offer to you. You can tailor this kind of meditation to enhance your physical abilities. There are various ways to practice Qigong and each one has a specific goal. There are over a thousand different styles of Qigong exercises which ranges from standing, sitting, or lying down meditation to very complex movements.

Even with the dynamic Qigong, where movement is required, the exercises can range from simple non-strenuous movements to long sets of very complex movements. These may put you through a very thorough workout. But the benefit here is that you can choose the style that best suits your body and your needs. Thus, regardless of how fit or unfit you are, there are a number of exercises that best suits you.

Ability to Lose Weight

Qigong has also the ability to manage weight. Today, there are several individuals all over the world who are practicing this kind of meditation in order to treat illnesses such as diabetes and other obesity-related problems. There are particular types of Qigong that are specifically designed for managing weight. By combining yogic breathing with exercise, this kind of meditation makes efficient use of oxygen for digestion as well as balancing the metabolism.

Stress Reliever

Usually, we interpret stress as being caused by external events. However, such events in themselves are not stressful. What makes them stressful is the way you interpret and react to these events. Meanwhile, the body’s reaction to stress is meant to protect us as it adjusts to its surroundings, maintaining homeostasis (the property of a system that regulates its internal environment while tending to maintain a stable and constant condition of properties). However, when it is prolonged, it will increase your heart and breathing rates as well as your blood pressure. It also lowers your digestive and immune function. With Qigong meditation, you can balance and enhance the natural healing resources in your body’s system. It also decreases the stress hormone cortisol, lowers blood pressure, reduces heart rate, and relaxes muscle tissue

Health Benefits Of Yoga

Both yoga and meditation have been around for thousands of years. To understand their connection, it helps to understand what each one is individually.

Yoga is a spiritual Hindu practice that incorporates breath, a simple form of meditation and physical incorporation of the body to bring the mind and body together, creating harmony. First introduced to the west in the early 1900’s, by mid century, yoga has grown exponentially in popularity and has continued to grow over the last few decades.

Meditation is best described as a training of the mind to reach different levels of consciousness and awareness. These levels of consciousness can include access to parts of the brain that control imagination, creativity, memory and more. Through meditation, these characteristics can be explored and possibly enhanced through practice.

The health benefits of yoga and meditation seem to go hand in hand, but let’s break the two down, anyway.

Health benefits of meditation

    • Blood pressure- Studies have shown the ability of meditation to lower blood pressure and in some cases, reverse the effects of heart disease.
    • Pain management- Meditation has been used to treat chronic and substance abuse withdrawal pains effectively. The results have been impressive; patients report feeling less discomfort when meditation has been introduced.
    • Stress and anxiety- If anyone has ever gotten overwhelmed with stress, took a moment, stopped and took a deep breath to recollect has witnessed the ability of meditation to reduce stress. Meditations number one benefit is the ability to relax, fighting off stress and anxiety.
  • Sleep- Meditation continues to be explored and implemented for its effectiveness for insomnia. Many times insomnia is caused by our inability to slow the mind down, whereas meditations greatest gift is the ability to do so.

Health benefits of yoga

Not only can yoga help with high blood pressure, pain management, stress, anxiety and sleep, but can also benefit the body more directly:

    • Core strength- Yoga can develop and nurture a strong core strength through its poses and stamina required to maintain those poses.
    • Posture- The simple act of lifting your chin when walking can have profound effects on posture. The poses present in yoga are embedded with improvements for posture, while developing the core strength can help maintain good posture out of the classroom.
  • Balance- The very nature of yoga and its form of exercise helps develop and maintain physical balance, but also fosters an emotional balance for the mind.

The benefits of meditation almost seem inherent to that of yoga, considering meditation is an integral part of the yoga practice. Some benefits are exclusive to yoga because of the physical qualities involved, but both are highly effective in bettering our health.

How Science Proves The Effectiveness of Meditation

When people hear the term meditation, they instantly connect it with archaic spiritual and pseudoscientific practices,but the truth remains that not only meditation has immense scientifically proved benefits but it also based on the principles of science. Contrary to the common belief that meditation is all about sitting still, there are actually numerous ways to meditate even on the go.

A lot of the methods involve meditation in some sort of motion, but does this really have a scientific base or are we just romanticizing a concept based on more of a placebo effect? While some continue to negate the link, here’s taking a look at how science proves the healing power of meditation.

Effect of Meditation on Brain Waves, and consequently on the state of the mind– It is already established that brain uses electromagnetic waves to function. There are different types of brain waves- the Beta Wave that are responsible for logical thinking, awareness, the Alpha Wave concerned with meditation, relaxation, the Theta wave concerned with an out-of-the body experience or daydreaming. A study testing the efficacy of Sahaja Yoga confirmed that during the test phase the meditators experienced pre-dominant Alpha waves.

Meditation Increases Concentration Span– Well this is actually no rocket science. In today’s era where the maximum attention span is of 6 seconds, it is very difficult to concentrate on anything for long. A study published in PLOS Biology suggests that three months of consistent meditation can train the brain to increase the attention span. The director of the Center for Mind and Brain at the California University spoke in context of the study and called it neuroscience evidence’ that changes the working of the brain through meditation.

Meditation can help lower blood pressure– In a study conducted on 200 heart patients, it was found that patients who meditated on a regular scale had over the time shown a decrease in the blood pressure. It is to be noted that all of these patients had heart conditions. Those who meditated were also disease free comparatively than those who did not meditate. It was also found that meditation helps to reduce the systolic blood pressure by an average of five millimeters of mercury.

Meditation increases the reasoning power- When a person meditates, their minds are in a state of calm. The basic principle of meditation is to induce calm by getting rid of the random thoughts that charge throughout the mind, and one which makes reasoning difficult by clouding it with other unrelated thoughts. A research conducted at UCLA using MRI showed that among the group of subjects, certain areas of the brain of those who meditated regularly were larger. Basically these areas were the ones associated with emotions, which is why meditation is also recommended to those with emotionally triggered disorders. Since meditation gives the power to control the emotions, it indirectly also makes a person’s ability to reason out better.

Meditation builds up a healthier brain– Ask someone who meditates on a regular basis and have been doing so for years, they will tell you how they do not need a lot of sleep or tons of caffeine to charge their minds and bodies. Those who meditate condition their brains over a period of time to become healthier. Getting rid of negative thoughts, improving concentration power and attention span, and the ability to think and reason out better are all important requirements of a healthy brain and hence a healthy body. And studies conducted on a group of meditators proved that meditation does indeed help in improving the overall health of the brain.

Meditation reduces anxiety, stress, and depression- Probably a no-brainer since meditation is highly recommended for anyone going through or has stress and depression issues. According to a study published in Psychosomatic Medicine in 2009, the effects of meditation on stress and depression was calculated and it was established that meditation does indeed help to both reduce the level of stress and anxiety, and help with depression while at the same time it empowers the meditator to fight against these, thus working as a preventive measure as well.

The concept is still in its infancy and every day a number of studies and researches are being conducted to understand the link better and to scientifically quantify or deny meditation which has a therapeutic effect. Having said that, meditation does indeed work wonders for our overall mental and physical health, from attaining peace of mind to control over emotions.

While we are yet to prove the concept of meditation through scientific laws and formulas, it is safe to say that the benefits of meditation have already been established as per studies and experiments. For anyone looking to overcome emotional problems and mental disorders, meditation does make it a lot easier, and this is why even doctors strongly recommend this.

Four Significant Benefits of Meditation

Often related to spiritual purposes, meditation offers several health benefits. There are even a number of researches which scientifically proved that it is a safe way to balance one’s physical, emotional, and mental state. In fact, meditation has been practiced for thousands of years already. Today, meditation for health has been prescribed by several doctors to cure stress-related illnesses such as anxiety, trauma and insomnia. However, there are several health benefits of meditation that you may not be aware of. Here are some of them:

Lowers the Risk of Heart Disease

According to a particular research, meditation may help reduce the risk of heart disease. As researcher Vernon Barnes, MD, a physiologist at the Medical College of Georgia, stated in a news release, “Our blood vessels are not rigid pipes. They need to dilate and constrict, according to the needs of the body.” Based on his study conducted on a group of black adolescents with high blood pressure, meditation significantly improved the ability of the blood vessel lining, known as the endothelium, to expand and contract. The dysfunction in the ability of the endothelium to dilate is an initial of heart disease. With this, meditation also helps lower blood pressure.

A Way to Relieve Stress

One of the common reasons why meditation is gaining popularity all over the world these days is that it can wipe away the day’s stress, resulting to inner peace. By spending a few minutes doing meditation, it can restore your calm and inner peace. It is regarded as a type of mind and body complementary medicine. During the state of meditation, you are focusing your attention and eliminate those jumbled thoughts that may cause you worries and stress. As a result, it enhances your physical and emotional well-being.

As an Anti-Aging Medicine

Based on the study by Harvard instructor Dr. Sara W. Lazar, meditation has shown to help reduce the effects of aging in the brain. Her study provided showed some strong physical evidence that there are some long-term physical effects of meditation. Through practice, the mind can increase the thickness of the prefrontal cortex. This thickening of the cortex is the opposite of what usually happens as the brain ages and it has been concluded that the meditation was responsible for it. Thus, meditation is considered as one of the weapons in the arsenal of fighting aging of the brain.

Helps Lose Weight

When we think of losing weight, we typically think of physical activities and changing our dietary habits. While we may not be aware of it, the first step to losing weight is within the mind. Once you practice meditation, you will feel more balanced and calm. With this, it enables you to be in the right mood to exercise. We may have already seen a lot of individuals who often fail to lose weight by dieting. This is because it does not help them commit to a lifestyle change. With meditation, it can help you to stay determined in your weight-loss goal.

Health Benefits of Meditation

There are many health benefits of meditation. Simply by meditating on a regular basis you can improve your physical and mental health.

It sounds too easy to be true. So what’s the catch? Can anyone gain the health and physical benefits of meditation?

Quite simply, meditating on a regular basis helps you to quiet your mind. You’ll know when you reach this quiet spot as everything takes on a calmness that isn’t necessarily there in your day to day life.

You can use your meditation sessions to concentrate on one particular part of your body. When you concentrate your mind, you will start to feel the health benefits of meditation work their way through into whichever part of your body you are concentrating on. Amazing as it may sound, simply concentrating on one part of your body will increase the flow of blood (and therefore oxygen and other vital nutrients) to that body part. This factor alone helps to explain why there are medical benefits of meditation, although mainstream Western medicine doesn’t always acknowledge these benefits.

By helping to calm your mind you are also strengthening your mind. Like any muscle, your mind needs exercise. Meditation is one way that you can satisfy this need.

Amongst the physical benefits of meditation, it has been found that athletes who meditate on a regular basis will also perform better in their sport.

Some of the health benefits of meditation are:

  • Lower oxygen consumption
  • Decreased breathing rate
  • Increased blood flow
  • Lower heart rate, which can help reduce blood pressure
  • Generally more relaxed
  • Reduced anxiety
  • Decreased muscle tension and headaches

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Helpful Information on the Medical Health

Information on the medical health benefits of meditation shows that meditation is a safe and simple way to balance your physical, mental and emotional states. It has been in practice for thousands of years. It has been shown to work particularly well for those experiencing stress. In fact, more and more doctors are prescribing meditation to cure many stress related illnesses including anxiety, trauma and insomnia.

Most people experience stress everyday. Be it at work or at home, there are situations that put us in fear or anxiety which triggers stress. It could be at the workplace where you are faced with something that you have never done before, or it could be at home if a emergency were to happen.

Stress is sometimes good because it causes one to take action to respond to the situation at hand. However, stress also happens during traffic jams, or when someone raises their voice or work is not done the way you like. If allowed to run its course, people could be in a continuous state of stress which is unhealthy.

Information on the medical health benefits of meditation shows that meditation releases stress from our bodies. Regular practice leads you to a deeper state of relaxation. Meditation is an excellent way to be relieved of stress and pressure and live a life that is peaceful, calm, relaxed and happy.

Stress is not the only problem that can be relieved through meditation. There are also sources of information on the medical health benefits of meditation, that say that it leads to reduction in pain, even in such cases like cancer and heart problems. It has been reported that people have even experienced improved eyesight as well as hearing.

Aside from the effects that meditation has on the body, it also positively effects the mind. Improvement in memory and intelligence are also reported in information on the medical health benefits of meditation. Increased concentration and awareness are a couple of other benefits.

It is the psychological effects that are quite significant. There is an increased feeling of identity and people demonstrate greater self reliance. People who meditate also have a stronger sense of self because of the positive experience that they feel.

They also show an increased empathy and therefore openness when dealing with other people. That is not all. They also better appreciate other people and the good things that they get in life. Often we see people who complain and grumble despite having a good life.

What is really nice is that your creativity improves through increased intuition and inspiration. Fear reduces.

In fact, there are also reductions in addictions and other bad habits as well as improvements in dealing with depression and hyperactivity.

Based on information on the medical health benefits of meditation, it is apparent that regular practice of meditation will help you feel much calmer and in control. You improve your ability to concentrate. Instead of being stressed, you can be more peaceful and relaxed. Just go with the flow of things and live and enjoy life.

Meditation and Its Benefits

Meditation is rooted in Eastern culture and has been practiced for thousands of years by different cultures throughout the world. The term meditation encompasses a wide variety of techniques and practices, including mindful meditation, transcendental meditation, and guided meditation. The various forms of meditation implement techniques such as focusing attention on an object, a word, or the breath. A specific posture is sometimes used but not necessary.

Meditation is easy to learn, requires no special equipment, and can be done most anywhere. Stress reduction is often experienced after just the first session. For long-term health benefits, most research agrees that a mere 20 minutes a day is all that is needed. However, even 10 minutes a few times a week can make a difference.

The regular practice of meditation contributes to both psychological and physiological health. Meditation brings the brainwave pattern into an alpha state, which is a level of consciousness that promotes healing. Meditation is used as a form of relaxation, to promote mental acuity, to promote psychological health, to aid in treatment in various physical disorders and diseases, and for overall mind/body health.

The psychological benefits of meditation can include:

  • Decreased anxiety
  • Decreased depression
  • Decreased stress
  • Decreased moodiness and/or irritability
  • Increased emotional stability
  • Greater creativity
  • Increased learning ability
  • Increased memory
  • Increased vitality
  • Increased happiness

The physiological benefits of meditation can include:

  • Lower heart rate, resulting in a reduced workload on the heart
  • Increased blood flow
  • Lower levels of cortisol, a corticosteroid hormone produced in the adrenal gland that is connected to stress levels
  • Reduction of free radicals, an unstable molecule within the body that can cause tissue damage and lead to disease
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Lower cholesterol levels
  • Improved air flow
  • Decreased muscle tension, thereby reducing tension headaches and various pain conditions.
  • Increases activity of natural-killer cells, thereby improving the function of the immune system
  • Increased exercise tolerance
  • Increased serotonin production, which may help relieve insomnia
  • A decrease in the intensity of some symptoms associated with various chronic illnesses

Much research has been done to back up the beneficial claims of meditation. Some of that research follows:

In order to determine exactly what part of the brain meditation acts on, researchers at Harvard Medical School used an MRI to monitor the brain activity of participants while they meditated. The research found that meditation activates the sections of the brain in charge of the autonomic nervous system, which controls body functions such as digestion and blood pressure. Since these functions are often compromised by stress, it makes sense that meditation would benefit stress-related conditions such as heart disease and digestive disorders.

Jon Kabat-Zin, Ph.D., associate professor of medicine at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center and director of the Medical Center’s Stress Reduction Clinic, recorded the brain waves of stressed employees of a Madison, Wisconsin firm. Kabat-Zin found that people who meditate shift their brain activity from the stress-prone right frontal cortex of the brain to the calmer left frontal cortex. This shift decreases the negative effects of stress, anxiety, and mild depression. Kabat-Zin also noted that the amygdala, the section of the brain that processes fear, became less active.

In a separate study by Kabat-Zin, patients with chronic pain conditions participated in mindful meditation for an eight-week period. Seventy-two-percent of those patients experienced at least a 33-percent reduction in pain. Sixty-one-percent of patients felt their pain had been reduced by a minimum of 50-percent.

The arthritis self-help course at Stanford University employed meditative techniques as a key element of their program. More than 100,000 people with arthritis have taken the 12-hour course to learn meditation-style relaxation exercises. Graduates report a 15- to 20-percent reduction in pain.

The journal Stroke published a study of 60 African-Americans with atherosclerosis, divided into groups that either did or did not practice meditation for six to nine months. African-Americans were specifically chosen for this study because they are twice as likely to die from cardiovascular disease as are whites. The study participants who meditated showed a marked decrease in the thickness of their artery walls. Contrarily, the participants who did not meditate showed an increase of their artery walls. The reduction of artery wall thickness in the meditation group could potentially decrease the risk of heart attack by 8-percent and the risk of stroke by 8- to 15-percent.

A study published in Psychosomatic Medicine had 90 cancer patients practice mindful meditation for seven weeks. At the end of the study, the patients reported significantly less depression, anxiety, anger, and confusion. They also had more energy and fewer heart and gastrointestinal problems.

Researchers at the Maharishi School of Management in Fairfield, Iowa, studied a group of people who had meditated for four months. At the study’s closing, the researchers determined that the group produced less cortisol (the so-called stress hormone) and were better able to adapt to stress in their lives.