Today’s fast-paced, digital world pressures children to grow up fast. Instead of running around grassy playgrounds, most of them live highly structured lives, shuttling from one organized activity to the next, often while playing with hyper-stimulating devices. For school-age children, homework, peer pressure, teasing, poor grades, bullying, parental demands and isolation can all trigger stress (White
Brief mindfulness meditation practice—as little as 25 minutes per day for 3 days—can reduce the perception of stress during nerve-wracking tasks, says a study published in Psychoneuroendocrinology (2014; doi: 10.1016/j.jpsyneuen.2014.02.007).
This is good news for those discouraged by lengthier recommendations—such as the 45 minutes of daily practice recommended in the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program popularized by Jon Kabat-Zinn, PhD.
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.
Meditation may be as effective as drug therapy for people with mild symptoms of anxiety and depression, according to a comprehensive review of studies that together included 3,515 participants. The review was published in JAMA Internal Medicine (2013; doi: 10.1001/jamaintern med.2013.13018).
Scientists are beginning to identify the physical changes—on a molecular level—that result from mindful meditation practice and, in so doing, are enhancing our understanding of how a consistent meditation practice benefits health.
“To the best of our knowledge, this is the first paper that shows rapid alterations in gene expression . . . associated with mindfulness meditation practice,” said study author Richard J. Davidson, PhD, founder of the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, in a University
of Wisconsin news release.
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).