Research Shows...

... according to Jon Kabat-Zinn in his book, Coming to Our Senses, mindfulness practice also can aid medical treatment. Kabat-Zinn studied the positive aspects of meditation in a study involving psoriasis patients at the University of Massachusetts Department of Medicine in collaboration with Jeff Bernhard, the chief of dermatology at the university.  The two decided to test the effects of meditation on healing psoriasis. They offered several types of meditation to psoriasis patients undergoing phototherapy treatments including standing meditation, breathing meditation, hearing meditation, and watching-the-mind-get-stressed-out meditation. They also included a visualization about the skin healing in response to the light as part of the meditation in the later stages of treatment. They used two groups of patients, one that meditated and one that did not. Kabat-Zinn says, "We found that the meditators healed faster than the non-meditators ... almost four times as rapidly."

• There's more evidence that meditation can boost the immune system. People who underwent eight weeks of meditation training produced more antibodies to a flu vaccine and showed signs of increased activity in areas of the brain related to positive emotion than individuals who did not meditate.

• This is reportedly the first study to link meditation to changes in brain activity associated with positive feeling and the first to demonstrate that mediation can affect immune function.

• The researchers found that some of the biological effects seen in the study continued up to four months after the end of meditation training. Most previous research has focused on meditation’s immediate effects.

- Leonard Holmes; Reference: Psychosomatic Medicine  August 2003

• Bruce F. O'Hara of the University of Kentucky found that meditation improves the performance of sleep-deprived individuals about as much as drinking a cup of coffee does.

• Sara W. Lazar of Harvard Medical School ... "I have encountered mainstream scientists who do not meditate who are very curious and open, and those who are still unwilling to even consider the possibility that meditation might have some positive effects." Lazar has found that meditation may help prevent the rate of cortical thinning with age. Brain scans show that as people get older, the white matter typically degenerates. This material envelops the neurons and helps them work more efficiently. Lazar discovered that older meditators had active cortical regions that were comparable with those of younger non-meditators.

Excerpts from "Talking Up Enlightenment: Neuroscientists hear, and applaud,
the Dalai Lama"

Christina Reed (Scientific American, February 2006 Issue)  January 23, 2006

Time Magazine Article — January, 2006   (from www.mindandlife.org) 

The January 16, 2006 issue of Time features a one-page story on meditation as part of a larger special report on how to sharpen our mind. The meditation article, "How to Get Smarter, One Breath at a Time," says that scientists are finding that meditation not only reduces stress but also reshapes the brain, changing it in ways that appear to increase attention span, sharpen focus and improve memory.

In support of this, Lisa Takeuchi Cullen, a staff writer for Time, cites the recent work of Sara Lazar, a research scientist at Massachusetts General Hospital. Lazar found that the daily practice of mindfulness or insight meditation by Boston-area workers thickened parts of their brain's cerebral cortex, which is responsible for decision making, attention and memory. This thickening is important because as we age, our cortex becomes thinner. Lazar was a participant in the 2004 and 2005 Mind & LIfe Summer Research Institutes (MLSRI).

Besides Lazar's study, Cullen notes Richard Davidson's studies on meditation and its effect on the brain. Davidson is the director of the Laboratory for Affective Neuroscience at the University of Wisconsin. Cullen further says that Davidson has collaborated with the Dalai Lama since 1992 in studying the brains of Tibetan monks. Davidson is a Mind & LIfe Institute board member.

In conclusion, Cullen reports that some corporations, including Deutsch Bank, Google and Hughes Aircraft, have started offering meditation classes. She says that not only does meditation make employees sharper, but employers find that it improves productivity by preventing stress-related illness and absenteeism. Meditation also helps people get along with each other.



A few reasons why you may want to consider using meditation:

  • Meditation is something your body and your mind already know how to do, and it is a natural state.
  • Meditation reduces stress levels and alleviates anxiety; a life without stress and anxiety is much healthier.
  • Meditation can be an intense form of prayer.
  • A clear and focused mind makes you feel better and makes you more productive. Regular deep meditation changes the brain in positive ways.
  • Meditation helps us learn how to see things more clearly, and separate important things from those which are not.
  • Stress and anxiety induce the "Stress Response" - fight or flight. Meditation helps to induce the "Relaxation Response."
  • Meditation brings about the release of serotonin - the 'feel good' chemical produced naturally in our bodies - and boosts the immune system.
  • Meditation enables you to better know your self, your inner force, and how to use it.
  • Meditation brings you the the Theta brain wave level which is associated with intuition, inner peace and relaxation, super-learning, creativity, inspiration, dream recall, imagery, visions, memory, spirituality. Overall, a positive and expansive mental state.
  • Meditation is a great workout for the mind and body; the brain benefits from the mental exercise and the body benefits from the deep relaxation.

The term meditation refers to a variety of techniques or practices intended to focus or control attention. Most of them are rooted in Eastern religious or spiritual traditions. These techniques have been used by many different cultures throughout the world for thousands of years.

Today, many people use meditation outside of its traditional religious or cultural settings as a form of mind-body medicine. Many claims have been made about its value in promoting or improving health and wellness. Research on these claims, as well as on how meditation might work, is important for NCCAM and other components of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

- National Institutes of Health,
National Center for Complementary & Alternative Medicine



Did You Know:

• In 1998, the healing benefits of prayer were alluded to when a group of scientists in the US studied how patients with heart conditions experienced fewer complications following periods of "intercessory prayer."

• At a meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Boston, scientists from Stanford University detailed their research into the positive affects that hypnotherapy can have in helping people cope with long-term illnesses.

• Dr. Andrew Newberg, University of Pennsylvania, conducted studies using brain imaging to pinpoint areas of the brain involved when Franciscan nuns pray and Tibetan Buddhist monks meditate. Scientific study of both the physical world and the inner world of human experiences are, according to Dr. Newberg, equally beneficial. "When someone has a mystical experience, they perceive that sense of reality to be far greater and far clearer than our usual everyday sense of reality." He added: "Since the sense of spiritual reality is more powerful and clear, perhaps that sense of reality is more accurate than our scientific everyday sense of reality."


Try meditation.

People who meditate regularly were shown to have lower blood pressure than non-meditators in a Medical College of Georgia study. Like laughter, deep relaxation such as meditation keeps blood vessels open and blood pressure low. Meditation can help people who already have heart disease by decreasing stress levels that could otherwise trigger heart attacks.

 - excerpt from an article, "Healthy Heart, 9 Tips for a healthier and happier heart" by Jessica C. Kraft, San Francisco, California; published in Guide Posts



More Benefits of Meditation

The mind becomes more clear and creativity increases as the brainwaves enter the Theta state.

Meditation is beneficial to the body and the mind.  When you meditate, your heart rate and breathing becomes rhythmic, your brain waves slow down and your blood pressure lowers.

Meditation on a regular basis helps with changing habits such as smoking, drinking and using drugs.

The adrenal glands produce less cortisol, the mind ages more slowly, and the immune function improves.

Overall, meditation is a very positive and healthy practice for the body and the mind.