Dr Craig Hassed, senior lecturer, Faculty of Medicine, Nursing & Health Sciences at Melbourne's Monash University, says: "Meditation is a great adjunct for a lot of things, from chronic pain to improving sleep, helping reduce blood pressure and coping with stress, anxiety and depression."
Health & wellbeing benefits
There are so many specific health & wellbeing benefits of meditation and mindfulness that are supported by studies and evidence and we list just some of them. Overall, we strongly believe that meditation and mindfulness offer immense opportunity to both improve overall health & wellbeing and also to help with nearly all health conditions and challenges.
Decreased medical care and hospitalisation
General Health & Immunity
Mental function/older age
Studies show that meditation for children (and those older) challenged with ADHD can help improve symptoms of ADHD including attention, impulse control, working memory, behaviour and behaviour control and organisation
Research is indicating that meditation is effective in treating addiction, either by itself or, more commonly, together with other treatments and methods. Studies continue to show the effectiveness of meditation in areas such as decreasing substance use, decreasing occasions of relapse and improved management of withdrawal. Meditation also addresses issues such as self-esteem and depression.
Fascinating research has shown that meditation can help you live longer and younger. For example, a study reported in the International Journal of Neuroscience concerned a group of long-term meditators (people who had maintained a personal meditation practice for five years or longer) who were physiologically twelve years younger than their chronological age. This was measured through factors such as blood pressure, near-point vision and auditory discrimination.
Meditating 45 year old women and men have on average, respectively, 47% and 23% more DHEA (the youth related hormone) than non-meditators -this helps decrease stress, heighten memory, preserve sexual function, and control weight. Extract from Meditation as Medicine ā D. S. Khalsa, M.D. and C. Stauth
A study by neuroscientist Sarah Lazar of Harvard Medical School showed that a part of the brain which is essential to working memory was thicker in people who meditated for as little as 40 minutes a day, compared with people who did not. The study considered therefore that it is possible that meditation may protect against age-related thinning of this part of the brain.
A study reported in Psychosomatic Medicine indicated that people who regularly practiced meditation consistently had less hospital and doctor visits and this difference increased in older-age.
Meditation is helpful for arthritis and fibromyalgia, as it can help with relaxation, acceptance, easing of muscle tension and greater energy/reduced fatigue. Research shows meditation can also help with associated challenges such as stress/anxiety, depression and also quality and amount of sleep.
Many doctors today are recommending meditation; it is taught in many clinics, hospitals and is endorsed by universities such as Harvard and Stanford. It is becoming an accepted therapy for many conditionsā¦it doesnāt require medications, special equipment, or lengthy doctorās visits. For those with arthritis, the ability of a meditation practice to relieve pain and change the quality of oneās life has great potential and all it takes is a few moments daily to quietly refocus and be in a moment of peace. Arthritis Today
Meditation has been shown to benefit people with rheumatoid arthritis by reducing psychological distress and decreasing non-specific inflammation.
Stress is an underlying factor in so many health conditions, including rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and fibromyalgia and studies have consistently shown that meditation can significantly lower stress/anxiety.
Meditation has also been shown to be effective in pain management.
Studies have shown that meditation may reduce the incidence of atherosclerosis. As reported in the journal Stroke, a meditation trial group evidenced a statistically significant reduction in carotid arterial thickness. Thickening of this artery is a characteristic of atherosclerosis.
Studies have indicated that asthma sufferers using meditation were able to better manage and control their asthma including a lessening of severity of symptoms and decreased frequency of attacks and better response to medication (as well as reduced dosages).
A study recently published in the American Journal of Hypertension indicated that meditation may bring cardiovascular benefits such as lower blood pressure. The study showed that that meditation produces "statistically significant" reductions in blood pressure.
Practising meditation may play an important role in controlling certain risk factors for heart diseaseā¦practice for 20 minutes a day has a positive, measurable effect on the build up of fatty deposits in arteries or atherosclerosisā¦just a small reduction could reduce the risk of heart attack by 11 % and reduce the risk of stroke by 15%. CNN, July 2000 and referencing the March edition of the journal Stroke.
People with high blood pressure may want to medicate and meditateā American Heart Association journal.
Research has shown that that meditation can be helpful firstly with the relief of certain symptoms of cancer and secondly, in improve quality of life. This includes helping with pain; raising immunity levels; improving coping mechanisms and mood; combating depression; improved quality of sleep and overall lower stress.
Recent research has shown that meditation is good for the brain. It appears to increase grey matter, improve the immune system, reduce stress and promote a sense of well being. New York Times
Various research has shown significant improvements in performance related to memory, learning, intelligence and mental function
Decreased medical care and hospitalisation
Research has shown that those regularly practising meditation have reduced incidence of hospitalisation and doctor visits, as well as quicker healing times. A study reported in Psychosomatic Medicine indicated that people who regularly practiced meditation consistently had less hospital and doctor visits and this difference increased in older-age.
In a recent trial on a meditation based study (Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy) for depression, researchers concluded that in people with recurrent depression, MBCT, in addition to antidepressants produces comparable outcomes to antidepressants alone in terms of relapse and recurrence rates - and therefore significantly reduces antidepressant use.
Meditation therapy should be routinely available on the NHS to treat recurring depression and to help tackle Britainās growing mental health problems, according to a new report. The study, commissioned by the Mental Health Foundation, found that fewer than one in 20 GPs prescribed meditation therapy for patients suffering depression, despite NHS guidance suggesting that it could halve depression relapse rates. Times Online.
General Health & Immunity
There is increasing evidence that meditation improves the immune system, particularly as psychological states such as stress negatively impact on the immune system. Studies show that meditation boosts the immune system, improves overall physical and mental health and can aid in the reduction of medical symptoms.
There is significant data that meditation can enhance healing ā Executive Director, Centre for Mindfulness in Medicine, University of Massachusetts, as quoted in Arthritis Today magazine.
Recent studies suggest meditation may balance the immune system to help the body resist disease. Arthritis Today magazine.
Recent research has shown that meditation is good for the brain. It appears to increase grey matter, improve the immune system, reduce stress and promote a sense of wellbeing. New York Times
Mental Function/Older Age
Studies have shown that regular practice of meditation is associated with increased brain thickness in a part of the brain concerned with sensory, auditory, visual and internal perception. The research also indicated that regular meditation practice may slow age-related thinning of the frontal cortex, an area associated with memory and decision making.
The hormones cortisol and adrenaline, which are over produced under stress "accelerate the ageing process and is a major risk factor not only in Alzheimerās disease but also in the far more common condition of age-associated memory disorder" D S Khalsa M.D. Meditation as Medicine
Various studies have shown that meditation can help ease chronic pain and the intensity of the same. Meditation reduces cortisol, the āstress hormoneā, which is found in high levels with people suffering with pain.
The Journal of Pain published a study where participants rated pain much lower after meditation training than before and one study, published in General Hospital Psychiatry, showed a majority of a group of patients had reported their pain as reduced by one third or more after a mindfulness meditation programme.
Meditation is being recommended by more and more physicians as a way to prevent, slow or at least control the pain of chronic diseases like heart conditions, AIDS and cancer. Time Magazine.
Research shows meditation can help relieve many arthritis symptoms, such as pain, anxiety, stress and depression, as well as relieve the fatigue and insomnia associated with fibromyalgia. Arthritis Foundation
Stress, anxiety and breathing are closely related. Meditation has been shown to offer significant benefit and improvement in respiratory function and breathing patterns including a more regular breathing pattern, improved tidal breath volume and vital capacity.
Meditation and Mindfulness have extensive application (and supporting research) in the areas of emotional and mental health and wellbeing, as well as stress and anxiety management. More and more, meditation and mindfulness are being used to not only address issues such as PTSD, stress and anxiety but also to provide strong tools for the ongoing maintenance of mental and emotional health and wellbeing.
Psoriasis, together with many disorders of the immune system, is effected by stress. A study in Psychosomatic Medicine, showed that those with psoriasis who listened to meditation tapes whilst receiving ultraviolet light therapy cleared their psoriasis up to 4 times faster than those who did not use the tapes.
It is the only activity that reduces blood lactate, a marker of stress and anxiety. The calming hormones melatonin and serotonin are increased by meditation and the stress hormone cortisol is decreased. Meditation creates a unique state, in which the metabolism is in an even deeper state of rest than during sleep. During sleep, oxen consumption drops by 8 percent, but during meditation, it drops by 10 to 20 percent. Extracts from Meditation as Medicine ā D. S. Khalsa, M.D. and C. Stauth
Clearly meditation can help with not only insomnia but also the quality of a personās sleep. Studies have shown that those challenged with insomnia can effectively reduce the causative conditions of elevated brain arousal by practising meditation at or before going to bed or after coming awake in the night
ā¢ Meditation is the only activity that reduces blood lactate, a marker of stress and anxiety.
ā¢ The calming hormones melatonin and serotonin are increased by meditation and the stress hormone cortisol is decreased (cortisol is an adrenal hormone that is found in extremely high levels in people with pain).
ā¢ Meditation creates a unique state, in which the metabolism is in an even deeper state of rest than during sleep. During sleep, oxen consumption drops by 8 percent, but during meditation, it drops by 10 to 20 percent.
ā¢ Meditating 45 year old women and men had on average, respectively, 47% and 23% more DHEA (the youth related hormone) than non-meditators -this helps decrease stress, heighten memory, preserve sexual function, and control weight.
Extracts from Meditation as Medicine ā D. S. Khalsa, M.D. and C. Stauth
Under stress, the body produces stress hormones, including cortisol, which has been shown to be a factor in weight gain ā including the increase of body fat, particularly abdominal fat. Aside from physical factors around stress and weight management, there are also mental and emotional issues. Meditation not only reduces stress, it increases serotonin (a happy hormone). Low levels of serotonin are associated with depression, obesity, insomnia and headaches. Furthermore, meditation can help with self-esteem and consequently, help to address issues such as comfort eating and eating without awareness.
Meditators secrete more of the youth-related hormone DHEA as they age than non-meditators and this can help decrease stress and control weight. Extracts from Meditation as Medicine ā D. S. Khalsa, M.D. and C. Stauth