Focused Awareness Meditation: An Evidence-based Approach

Focused Awareness Meditation:  An Evidence-based Approach

With the movement of the medical community in the direction of evidence-based practices it seems apparent that programs being introduced into the medical community uphold the standards. Meditation is considered part of complementary and integrative healthcare practices. 1

When we speak about Evidence-Based Meditation we are really talking about an approach to practicing meditation and its tools in which the practitioner is aware of the  in support of clinical practice and the strength of that evidence in conjunction with his or her patients’/clients’ values.  It combines the practitioners clinical knowledge with the knowledge of the patient/client, with evidence from the literature.

1  Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.  Meditation Practices for Health: State of the Research. No. 155  June 2007.   National Center for Complementary and Integrative Medicine, Rick Heller, Humanist Contemplatives Group – Harvard University.

Why Use Evidence-Based Practices?

Evidence-Based Practices are incorporated into programs to keep people informed about the science that supports the practices. At the Center for Meditation Science we have found that using evidence-based practices we not only stay within the medical parameters but the process ultimately improves the quality of teaching and knowledge given to participants.  It also provides a secular practice that avoids religious, superstitious or cultural trappings.  This is necessary if we are going to create a world where there are no boundaries that exclude some and include others.    

Four most important reasons why  Evidence-Based Practices are important in a meditation training, include:

  1. A need for valid information on:
    1. diagnosis
    2. treatment
    3. prognosis
    4. prevention
  2. More people are looking for Complementary and Alternative Practices
  3. Provides up-to-date information to keep knowledge on the cutting edge
  4. Helps prevent the proliferation of sub-standard sources
    1. Incorrect opinions
    2. Misinformation on web
    3. Frequently incorrect “expert” opinions

What is driving Evidence-Based Meditation to the forefront in teaching meditation?

  1. Public is more informed as to healing practices that are useful.
  2. Internet does not always supply correct information
  3. Insurance companies are looking for validation
  4. More research available
  5. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Medicine recognition

The 5 Criteria we (Center for Meditation Science) consider in our training curriculum when analyzing the evidence with the use of meditation and it’s practices include:

  1. The practice of meditation – there are many styles and system of practice so it becomes important to be consistent with repeatable and systematic measures when choosing a format.
  2. The state of research on the therapeutic use of meditation practices in healthcare.  The practices incorporating mindfulness, focus, breathing and the use of mantra are clearly utilized in medical and clinical settings.
  3. The evidence on the efficacy and effectiveness of meditation practices is important when teaching a program.
  4. The evidence on the role of effect modifiers for the practice of meditation is important to take into consideration when designing a program.  For example, each person has their own background and belief system that certainly affects the experience.
  5. The evidence on the physiological and neuropsychological effects of meditation practices is important in the design of a program.  

As we know, the person is clearly defined by their individual nervous system – both the central and autonomic branches.  Reviewing the studies and designing a systematic sequence that acknowledges these discoveries gets better results.  The Focused Awareness Meditation Teacher’s Training is designed with this reasoning in mind.

Additional Resources