A quick research review

Understanding meditation

Meditation has been practiced for thousands of years. Meditation originally was meant to help deepen understanding of the sacred and mystical forces of life. These days, meditation is commonly used for relaxation and stress reduction.

Meditation is considered a type of mind-body complementary medicine. Meditation produces a deep state of relaxation and a tranquil mind. During meditation, you focus your attention and eliminate the stream of jumbled thoughts that may be crowding your mind and causing stress. This process results in enhanced physical and emotional well-being.

 

Meditation: A simple, fast way to reduce stress

by Mayo Clinic Staff 

Meditation can wipe away the day’s stress, bringing with it inner peace. See how you can easily learn to practice meditation whenever you need it most.

If stress has you anxious, tense and worried, consider trying meditation. Spending even a few minutes in meditation can restore your calm and inner peace.

Anyone can practice meditation. It’s simple and inexpensive, and it doesn’t require any special equipment. And you can practice meditation wherever you are — whether you’re out for a walk, riding the bus, waiting at the doctor’s office or even in the middle of a difficult business meeting. Read more.

 

Australia ranked ‘happiest’ developed nation again

Sydney Opera HouseAustralia has won the title of world’s happiest industralised nation for three years

Australia has been ranked the world’s happiest nation among developed economies for the third year running.

Top position went to Australia, because of the overall strength of its economy, in the Better Life Index compiled by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

Sweden, Canada, Norway and Switzerland were also in the top five.

The survey ranked more than 30 countries on criteria such as income levels, health, safety and housing.

“Australia performs exceptionally well in measures of wellbeing, as shown by the fact that it ranks among the top countries in a large number of topics in the Better Life Index,” the OECD said on its website. More. bbc.co.uk/news/business-22685260

 

Making Australia Happy

In the late 1990s, happiness became “the new black”. Pioneered by American psychologist Dr Martin Seligman, the emergence of Positive Psychology marked a shift away from the disease model of traditional psychology (ie, treating dysfunction) to “the science of optimal human functioning”. Since then, a vast amount of international research has emerged exploring the value of positive emotions, positive traits (or character strengths) and positive social institutions (eg, families, schools, workplaces, communities). In Making Australia Happy, coaching psychologist Dr Tony Grant touches on these three pillars of positive psychology, road testing a series of evidence-based strategies that are outlined in this section. Read more

 

Framingham Heart Study: Dynamic spread of happiness

Happiness is a fundamental object of human existence,1 so much so that the World Health Organization is increasingly emphasising happiness as a component of health.2 Happiness is determined by a complex set of voluntary and involuntary factors. Researchers in medicine,3 economics,1 4 5 psychology,6 7neuroscience,8 and evolutionary biology9 have identified a broad range of stimuli to happiness (or unhappiness),1 including lottery wins,10 elections,7 income,1 job loss,11 socioeconomic inequality,12 13 divorce,1 illness,14 bereavement,15 and genes.9 16 These studies, however, have not addressed a possibly key determinant of human happiness: the happiness of others. Read more. 

Science Daily News

Researchers at UCLA now report that a simple meditation program lasting just eight weeks reduced loneliness in older adults. Read more: 

Despite differences in rituals and beliefs among the world’s major religions, spirituality often enhances health regardless of a person’s faith, according to University of Missouri researchers. Read more: 

 

New Yorker Magazine

Head Case: Can Psychiatry be a science?

The National Institute of Mental Health estimates that more than fourteen million Americans suffer from major depression every year, and ore than three million suffer from minor depression (whose symptoms are milder but last longer than two years). Read more:

 

Meditation and Physiology

Eastern religious and secular groups, such as the Buddhists, Taoists, and the Indian Yogis have practiced meditation throughout history in order to achieve certain mental and physical ends; these include muscular relaxation and “clearing” the mind, as well as the more esoteric union with  nature or God. For these practitioners, meditation further serves to reduce negative tensions in  both conscious and subconscious realms, and facilitates the integration of an individual into her  or his physical, social and psychological environment. A variety of these ideas were incorporated into the philosophy of the martial arts as they developed in Asia. Read more: 

 

Mind and Life Organisation

What does science tell us about the prospects for the cultivation of self-regulatory skills such as impulse control, and interpersonal skills such as empathic listening in children, adolescents, and emerging adults through various kinds of mental and physical training? Read more: 

 

National Centre for Complementary and Alternative Medicine Victorian Government

Meditation is a mind-body practice in complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). There are many types of meditation, most of which originated in ancient religious and spiritual traditions. Generally, a person who is meditating uses certain techniques, such as a specific posture, focused attention, and an open attitude toward distractions. Meditation may be practiced for many reasons, such as to increase calmness and physical relaxation, to improve psychological balance, to cope with illness, or to enhance overall health and well-being. This Backgrounder provides a general introduction to meditation and suggests some resources for more information. Read more: 

 

New York Times

How meditation may change the brain.

Over the December holidays, my husband went on a 10-day silent meditation retreat. Not my idea of fun, but he came back rejuvenated and energetic.

He said the experience was so transformational that he has committed to meditating for two hours daily, one hour in the morning and one in the evening, until the end of March. He’s running an experiment to determine whether and how meditation actually improves the quality of his life. Read more: 

 

History of Meditation

Meditation is a practice in which an individual trains the mind and/or induces a mode of consciousness to realize some benefit, although it can be argued meditation is a goal in and of itself. Read more: 

 

Elizabeth Blackburn, Nobel Prize Winner

Australian-born 2009 Nobel Prize winner in Physiology or Medicine,  Professor Elizabeth Blackburn, and her team at the Blackburn Lab, University of California, San Francisco, have published several research papers that explore the relationship between stress, meditation and ageing. Read more:

One study looked at the effects of a three-month meditation retreat on telomerase activity. Telomerase is an enzyme, discovered by Professor Blackburn and Professor Carol Greider, that is related to the ageing of cells. The study found ‘the data suggest that increases in perceived control and decreases in negative affectivity’ (associated with the experience of distress) ‘contributed to an increase in telomerase activity, with implications for telomere length and immune cell longevity. Further, Purpose in Life is influenced by meditative practice and directly affects both perceived control and negative emotionality.Read more.

Another study ‘examined the effects of brief daily yogic meditation (kirtan kriya) on mental health, cognitive functioning, and immune cell telomerase activity in family dementia caregivers with mild depressive symptoms.’  It found that brief daily meditation practices by family dementia caregivers can lead to improved mental and cognitive functioning and lower levels of depressive symptoms’ as well as ‘suggesting improvement in stress-induced cellular aging.’ Read more. 

2017-05-21T16:51:24+00:00 June 1st, 2014|Tags: , , |