Category Archives: Mindfulness and Health

The Majesty of the Present: Clifford Saron at TEDx UCDavis

In this contemplative talk presented back in 2012 at UCDavis, Dr. Clifford Saron from the Center for Mind and Brain examines the physiological effects of meditation. Through his findings he describes the concrete benefits of inward and present minded thinking.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d88Q-15W_AI]

For more information about Dr Saron and the Saron Lab, go here.

For more information about TEDx, go to ted.com

 

Meditation reduces emotional pain

From Time Magazine online… (by Mandy Oaklander)

Open any magazine and you’ll find that mindfulness has gone mainstream. You’ll also notice there are studies that purport to show meditation’s benefits on just about everything, from kids’ math scores and migraine length to HIV management and bouncing back after a crisis. Now, an elaborate new forthcoming study looks at how the brains of meditators respond to pain, to be published in the Journal of Neuroscience.

Dr. Fadel Zeidan, assistant professor of neurobiology and anatomy at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, has studied mindfulness for 15 years and has observed improved health outcomes as a result. “But what if this is all just a placebo?” he wondered. “What if people are reporting improvements in health and reductions in pain just because of meditation’s reputation as a health-promoting practice?” He wanted to find out, so he designed a trials that included a placebo group.

Zeidan recruited 75 healthy, pain-free people and scanned their brains using an MRI while they experienced painful heat with a 120-degree thermal probe. Then, the researchers sorted them into four groups and gave them four days of training. Everyone thought they were getting the real intervention, but most of them were getting a sham treatment.

“I want to be restrained about the efficacy of mindfulness, and the way to be restrained about it is by making it harder and harder to demonstrate its effectiveness,” Zeidan says.

Red the full article.

Exploring the promise of mindfulness as medicine

Laura Buchholz
JAMA. 2015;314(13):1327-1329. doi:10.1001/jama.2015.7023.

From the JAMA NetworkMindfulness and Medicine

Mindfulness practices as we know them today are rooted in 2500-year-old Buddhist meditation practices and are often described as “…paying attention to the present moment experiences with openness, curiosity, and a willingness to be with what is” (http://marc.ucla.edu/). Herbert Benson, MD, founder of the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital, is often credited with bringing mindfulness into the realm of Western medicine. His 1975 book The Relaxation Response outlined techniques to combat the harmful effects of stress with relaxation methods similar to meditation.

These practices didn’t stay lodged in the 1970s like a macramé plant holder, however. Several structured mindfulness programs have since been developed and are being implemented in clinical practice. One of these is mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR), pioneered by Jon Kabat-Zinn, PhD, MPH, founding executive director of the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School (http://1.usa.gov/1KZm8DF).

Another is mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT), a blend of MBSR and cognitive-behavioral therapy established by Zindel Segal, PhD, a cognitive psychologist at the University of Toronto, along with colleagues Mark Williams, PhD, and John Teasdale, PhD (http://1.usa.gov/1e0vpOo).

According to Gregory Lewis Fricchione, MD, director of the Benson-Henry Institute, “…mindfulness and other meditative techniques can provide adjunctive benefits for health and that includes mental health.”

Read the full article.

Does mindfulness make for a better athlete?

From the New York Times

Mindfulness and athleticsWhen athletes learn how to be more aware of their bodies they may also change the workings of their brains and become more resilient to stress, according to a new study of the effects of mindfulness meditation on brain function in serious athletes.

The study, which was published recently in Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, had its unusual origins in a balk at the starting gate by one of the top riders for the U.S. Men’s National BMX team. Watching, his baffled coach wondered how he could help his riders to better handle the anxiety and psychological rigors of competition. So he approached scientists affiliated with the department of psychiatry and the Center for Mindfulness at the University of California, San Diego, near where the team trains, and asked if they might be interested in working with and studying his seven-man team.

Continue reading.

Meditation helping mitigate effects of PTSD on veterans

From the Houston Chronicle

SAN ANTONIO – Sometimes, when Pedro Meza is confronted by memories he can’t understand, the monster comes out. The former Army Special Operations officer developed post-traumatic stress disorder after witnessing the bombing deaths of children in a Latin American village in 1985. He also suffers from a traumatic brain injury that keeps him from remembering the time, place and circumstances surrounding frightening images in his mind. “There are images in my brain that I can’t explain,” he said. “I’m haunted by things I see but cannot understand.”

920x1240 (1)In March 2014, after years of abusing alcohol to cope with terrifying memories and trying different medications that didn’t help, Meza discovered meditation at a workshop for veterans, and his life changed for the better.

A growing number of veterans are discovering how meditation can ease symptoms of PTSD. A study is underway at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston to understand how a form of the therapy, called mindfulness meditation, affects stress levels of soldiers.

The need for PTSD treatments in the military is great. Many veterans are affected by the disorder, which is characterized by anxiety attacks, nightmares, flashbacks and depression, among other issues.
A June report by the Veterans Health Administration showed that 20.5 percent – or more than 391,000 – of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans received PTSD-related treatments from 2001 to 2014. As much as 30 percent, or 2.7 million, of Vietnam-era veterans had experienced PTSD at some point in their lives, according to one study.

“It affects servicemen from all areas. It changes things drastically,” said Emily Bower, a psychologist at Audie Murphy VA Hospital. “They’re more likely to have trouble maintaining work, more likely to abuse substances, more likely to have relationship problems with a spouse or children.”

The VA reported three years ago that as many as 22 veterans committed suicide every day. And Iraq and Afghanistan veterans with PTSD are three times more likely to experience suicidal thoughts than veterans without the disorder, says a study published in the 2011 Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease.

Traditional treatments for PTSD include therapy and prescriptions for antidepressants, antianxiety medications and sleep aids. But these methods don’t always work, so military officials and organizations serving veterans recently started offering meditation as an alternative treatment.

Continue reading.

Mindfulness meditation aids health

From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
By Jacob Axelrad

From the Beatles’ bouts with Transcendental Meditation to brand names such as lululemon and YogaRat, mind-body relaxation methods have long been pop-culture staples. But ongoing studies aim to show that a calmer mind and a more acute awareness of one’s surroundings can improve physical health, according to research based at Carnegie Mellon University.

Mindfulness-based stress reduction, a 12-week program developed in the 1970s by Jon Kabat-Zinn at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, uses techniques from Buddhism to train participants in skills they can apply to their everyday lives, to help them deal with stress, pain and illness. The skills involve finely tuned attention to thoughts and emotions and their bodies’ reactions to physical sensations.

Continue reading on the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Five videos that prove meditation is the new brain medicine

From the Huffington Post

mindfulness-meditation-articleJune 21st 2015 marked the first official International Day of Yoga as declared by United Nations recognising the holistic benefits of the timeless ancient practice.

With technological advancements, scientists in the West have been able to prove the mental and physical benefits of yoga and meditation. This really helps people like us coaching individuals to make use of mind-body remedies for health and fitness, while separating out associated religious, social or cultural nuances.

In honour of the International Day of Yoga, here are few science-based videos supporting the holistic benefits of meditation (meditation = yoga of mind with higher state of personal consciousness).

Continue reading/see the videos on the Huffington Post.