09 February 2009

Meditation Benefits

They Call Him James' post on a study showing that zen meditation could help with pain control inspired me to look for other recent studies relating to meditation. I found more than I expected to.

Here's the article James linked to: Zen Meditation Alleviates Pain, but there are plenty more.

Compassion Meditation May Improve Physical And Emotional Responses To Psychological Stress

No differences were seen between students randomized to compassion meditation and the control group, but within the meditation group there was a strong relationship between the time spent practicing meditation and reductions in inflammation and emotional distress in response to the stressor.

Mindfulness Meditation Slows Progression Of HIV
Participants in the eight-week group showed no loss of CD4 T cells, indicating that mindfulness meditation training can buffer declines. In contrast, the control group showed significant declines in CD4 T cells from pre-study to post-study. Such declines are a characteristic hallmark of HIV progression.

Meditation Can Lower Blood Pressure
"Adding Transcendental Medication is about equivalent to adding a second antihypertension agent to one's current regimen only safer and less troublesome," Anderson said.

Zen Training Speeds The Mind's Return After Distraction
After interruption, experienced meditators were able to bring activity in most regions of the default network back to baseline faster than non-meditators.

Compassion Meditation Changes The Brain
The scans revealed significant activity in the insula - a region near the frontal portion of the brain that plays a key role in bodily representations of emotion - when the long-term meditators were generating compassion and were exposed to emotional vocalizations. The strength of insula activation was also associated with the intensity of the meditation as assessed by the participants.

Mix Of Taiji, Cognitive Therapy And Support Groups Benefits Those With Dementia
Participants in the program benefited in a variety of ways. After 20 weeks, those in the treatment group improved in several measures of physical function, including balance and lower leg strength, while those in the comparison group did not. There were also positive cognitive and psychological effects, Burgener said.

Cognitive Training Can Alter Biochemistry Of The Brain (not directly related to meditation, but some meditation could arguably be considered 'cognitive training')
Professor Klingberg and his colleagues have previously shown that the working memory can be improved with a few weeks' intensive training. Through a collaborative project conducted under the Stockholm Brain Institute, the researchers have now taken a step further and monitored the brain using Positron Emission Tomography (PET scans), and have confirmed that intensive brain training leads to a change in the number of dopamine D1 receptors in the cortex.

Selflessness -- Core Of All Major World Religions -- Has Neuropsychological Connection (Note:I don't care for the wording in some places in this article, but it's still an interesting finding)
“This research also addresses questions regarding the impact of neurologic versus cultural factors on spiritual experience,” Johnstone said. “The ability to connect with things beyond the self, such as transcendent experiences, seems to occur for people who minimize right parietal functioning. This can be attained through cultural practices, such as intense meditation or prayer or because of a brain injury that impairs the functioning of the right parietal lobe. Either way, our study suggests that ‘selflessness’ is a neuropsychological foundation of spiritual experiences.”

Admittedly, some of these focused on very specific meditation techniques, but there's still a pretty clear message that meditation, in any form, is likely to be beneficial to a person's health.

No comments: