Have you ever thought about adding meditation to your wellness practice? The new year is the perfect time to start! People are meditating to promote over- all wellness and also to cope with anxiety, pain, depression, stress, insomnia and physical or emotional symptoms associated with chronic illnesses such as heart disease, cancer and HIV/AIDS (NCCAM 2010).
Shirley Archer, JD, MA, IDEA’s mind- body-spirit spokesperson and an award- winning author, shares some insights on this popular mind-body practice.
Changes in the Brain
In the past decade, researchers have been using modern technology to study how meditation affects the structure of the brain. They have found that between controls and meditators, there are differences in both gray matter (tissue containing neuronal cell bodies) and white matter (the connective tissue between regions of the brain).
People with fibromyalgia may want to try meditation to help them cope with challenging symptoms like pain and depression, suggests a study published in Current Pain and Headache Reports (2012; 16: 383–87; doi: 10.1007/s11916-012-0285-8).
Heart disease patients improve their odds. With growing research supporting the long-term health benefits of meditation, doctors may soon be prescribing the practice as a means of stress reduction for patients with heart disease.
The second annual Bridging the Hearts & Minds of Youth Conference, presented by the UCSD Center for Mindfulness, took place February 1–3 in San Diego, with more than 40
speakers addressing the topic of mindfulness in clinical practice, education and research—specifically in relation to young people.
A recent study is shining positive light on how to nurture the human potential for kindness and compassion. Future applications could include helping kids to reduce school bullying or aiding people with antisocial behavior problems.
Growing numbers of people are turning to alternative approaches to complement or reduce the use of medication for controlling blood pressure. To guide physicians on the variety of complementary therapies, the American Heart Association has issued a scientific statement entitled “Beyond Medications and Diet: Alternative Approaches to Lowering Blood Pressure,” available in the AHA’s journal Hypertension (2013; 61 , 1360–83; doi: 10.1161/HYP.0b013e318293645f).