Evidence-based Meditation Research

Evidence-based Meditation Research

The National Institute of Complementary and Integrative Health at the National Institutes of Health recognizes meditation as a mind-body practice.  They currently set the standards for evidence-based practices in the field of mind-body medicine offering research on such practices. The practice of meditation, breathing techniques, relaxation and other mind-body protocols are supported by research funding.

What is Meditation?

According to the Complementary Integrative Medicine sector of the National Institutes of Health, Meditation falls under the category of being a mind and body practice.

Meditation is known to:

  • Improve calmness and focus
  • Improving psychological resilience
  • Improving a practitioner’s ability to cope with illness
  • Supporting overall health and well-being

Mind and body practices focus on the interactions among the brain, mind, body, and behavior. Most importantly the secret to understanding mind-body practices resides in the understanding and control of the breath. Hence, the reason we see much of the literature using breath as a component in the studies.

There are many types of meditation, but most have four to five elements in common:

  • A quiet location with as few distractions as possible
  • A specific, comfortable posture (sitting, lying down, walking, or in other positions)
  • A focus of attention (a specially chosen word or set of words, an object, or the sensations of the breath)
  • A specified breathing practice
  • An open attitude (letting distractions come and go naturally without judging them).

How Much Do We Know About Meditation?

  • Many studies have been conducted to look at how meditation may be helpful for a variety of conditions, such as cardio vascular disease, high blood pressure, certain psychological disorders, and pain. A number of studies show evidence of meditation workings on the brain.

What do we know about the effectiveness of meditation?

  • Research suggests that practicing meditation may reduce blood pressure, symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, anxiety and depression, insomnia, and the incidence, duration, and severity of acute respiratory illnesses (such as influenza). Evidence about its effectiveness for pain and as a smoking-cessation treatment is supported by some research but not by others.

Meditation and the Brain

  • Some research suggests that meditation may physically change the brain and body and could potentially help to improve many health problems and promote healthy behaviors.
  • Results suggested that people who practiced meditation for many years have more folds in the outer layer of the brain. This process (called gyrification) may increase the brain’s ability to process information.
  • Meditation may slow, stall, or even reverse changes that take place in the brain due to normal aging.

References: Evidence behind the practice of meditation

Evidence-based Meditation Research February 11, 2016

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Medical Disclaimer

The contents of this website are for informational purposes only and are not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.