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).
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).
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).