Scientific Reasons and Benefits of Meditation

Increases immune function  : These findings demonstrate that a short program in mindfulness meditation produces demonstrable effects on brain and immune function. These findings suggest that meditation may change brain and immune function in positive ways and underscore the need for additional research 

Davidson, Richard J. PhD; Kabat‐Zinn, Jon PhD; Schumacher, Jessica MS; Rosenkranz, Melissa BA; Muller, Daniel MD, PhD; Santorelli, Saki F. EdD; Urbanowski, Ferris MA; Harrington, Anne PhD; Bonus, Katherine MA; Sheridan, John F. PhD 

doi: 10.1097/01.PSY.0000077505.67574.E3
Decreases Pain: This study was supported by the Mind and Life Institute Varela Grant, the National Institutes of Health NS39426, and the Center for Biomolecular Imaging of Wake Forest University School of Medicine 
Mindfulness meditation is characterized by two distinct cognitive practices. The fundamental practice of mindfulness is called focused attention (Lutz et al., 2008) or Shamatha (Sanskrit translation: calm abiding) (Wallace, 2006). Focused attention promotes a sense of detachment from ongoing affective states and enhances cognitive control (Maclean et al., 2010Zeidan et al., 2010c). Traditionally, focused attention is cultivated as a prerequisite to another form of mindfulness meditation labeled open monitoring(Lutz et al., 2008)or Vipassana (Sanskrit translation: insight into the nature of reality)(Wallace, 2006). Open monitoring practitioners commonly refer to mindfulness as a moment-to-moment non-evaluative awareness of “whatever arises” (Wallace, 2006). The present findings, therefore, are distinct from open monitoring’s effects on pain. In open monitoring, meditators are taught to fully experience the intensity of a sensory event. Consistent with this, open monitoring has been found to reduce pain unpleasantness, but not pain intensity ratings (Brown and Jones, 2010Perlman et al., 2010). Thus, focused attention may attenuate pain by altering the elaboration of nociceptive information to pain, whereas open monitoring promotes a non-evaluative stance to a fully experienced sensory event. 
Decreases Inflammation at the Cellular Level : Psychological stress is a major provocative factor of symptoms in chronic inflammatory conditions. In recent years, interest in addressing stress responsivity through meditation training in health-related domains has increased astoundingly, despite a paucity of evidence that reported benefits are specific to meditation practice. We designed the present study to rigorously compare an 8-week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) intervention to a well-matched active control intervention, the Health Enhancement Program (HEP) in ability to reduce psychological stress and experimentally-induced inflammation. The Trier Social Stress Test (TSST) was used to induce psychological stress and inflammation was produced using topical application of capsaicin cream to forearm skin. Immune and endocrine measures of inflammation and stress were collected both before and after MBSR training. Results show those randomized to MBSR and HEP training had comparable post-training stress-evoked cortisol responses, as well as equivalent reductions in self-reported psychological distress and physical symptoms. However, MBSR training resulted in a significantly smaller post-stress inflammatory response compared to HEP, despite equivalent levels of stress hormones. These results suggest behavioral interventions designed to reduce emotional reactivity may be of therapeutic benefit in chronic inflammatory conditions. Moreover, mindfulness practice, in particular, may be more efficacious in symptom relief than the well-being promoting activities cultivated in the HEP program. 
Mindfulness training, compared to a well-matched control condition, is a better buffer of the effects of psychological stress on neurogenic inflammation
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Boosts Happiness  Increases Positive Emotion:  We report for the first time significant increases in left‐sided anterior activation, a pattern previously associated with positive affect, in the meditators compared with the nonmeditators. We also found significant increases in antibody titers to influenza vaccine among subjects in the meditation compared with those in the wait‐list control group. Finally, the magnitude of increase in left‐sided activation predicted the magnitude of antibody titer rise to the vaccine These findings demonstrate that a short program in mindfulness meditation produces demonstrable effects on brain and immune function. These findings suggest that meditation may change brain and immune function in positive ways and underscore the need for additional research.
Davidson, Richard J. PhD; Kabat‐Zinn, Jon PhD Schumacher, Jessica MS; Rosenkranz, Melissa BA; Muller, Daniel MD, PhD; Santorelli, Saki F. EdD; Urbanowski, Ferris MA; Harrington, Anne PhD; Bonus, Katherine MA; Sheridan, John F. PhD
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Decreases Depression : 
the results suggest that MM practice primarily leads to decreases in ruminative thinking, even after controlling for reductions in affective symptoms and dysfunctional beliefs.
Astin, J. A. (1997). Stress reduction through mindfulness meditation. Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics66, 97–106.
Beck, A. T. (1967). Depression: Clinical, experimental, and theoretical aspects. NewYork: Hoeber.
Beck, A. T., Ward, C. H., Mendelson, M., Mock, J., & Erbaugh, J. (1961). An inventory for measuring depression. Archives of General Psychiatry4, 53–63.
Cane, D. B., Olinger, J., Gotlib, I. H., & Kuiper, N. A. (1986). Factor structure of the dysfunctional attitude scale in a student population. Journal of Clinical Psychology42,307–309. 
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Decreases Stress : 
The literature is replete with evidence that the stress inherent in health care negatively impacts health care professionals, leading to increased depression, decreased job satisfaction, and psychological distress. In an attempt to address this, the current study examined the effects of a short-term stress management program, mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR), on health care professionals. Results from this prospective randomized controlled pilot study suggest that an 8-week MBSR intervention may be effective for reducing stress and increasing quality of life and self-compassion in health care professionals. Implications for future research and practice are discussed.
Ref: Shapiro, S. L., Astin, J. A., Bishop, S. R., & Cordova, M. (2005). Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction for Health Care Professionals: Results From a Randomized Trial. International Journal of Stress Management, 12(2), 164-176.

Myths about Meditation: 

Having an empty mind—nope, in fact, when you start meditating, you'll find its quite the opposite

Sitting in lotus position—nope, you can sit on the couch (just don't lie down, you'll fall asleep)

Sitting for an hour a day—nope, small doses work just fine, 

Chanting in a language I don't understand—nope, not unless that floats your boat

Buddhist, Hindu or religious—nope, not unless you make it so

Weird—what's so weird about sitting and breathing?


"I can't meditate" because

I can't clear my mind—no worries, while you're sitting there you'll experience the noisy chaos of a wound up mind that's unwinding: tons of thoughts, feelings and emotions. Don't worry about how you feel during, notice how you feel after and throughout the rest of the day

I can't sit still—that's ok, just sit comfortably, fidget if you need to

I get anxious—that's also normal, all the junk's coming up, learn some breathing practices to calm yourself down, exercise or do yoga before meditating

I hate sitting still—that's fine, then go for a walk without your earphones, phone etc; or start with yoga; or do breathing exercises…give yourself time to just "be" without constantly "doing" something

I tried and I hated it—there's not just one kind of meditation, there's a whole menu out there, look for the shoe that fits: mindfulness, Transcendental, compassion, mantra, Vipassana, Art of Living breathing practices, yoga nidra, yoga, insight, loving-kindness, tai chi etc...

I don't have time - if you have time to read an article about meditation all the way through, you have time to meditate. Think of all those minutes you waste every day on the internet or otherwise, you can definitely fit in 20 minutes here or there to give your life a boost! Gandhi is quoted as saying "I'm so busy today, that... I'm going to meditate 2 hours instead of 1."



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11/1/2017 1:46 AM
nice blog