Taking a Closer Look at Health Benefits of Meditation

Taking a Closer Look at Health Benefits of MeditationBy: JEANNE BALL
Published: World of Psychology

Meditation research has come a long way since the first scientific study on meditation was published in a peer-reviewed journal in 1971 [1]. That study declared the discovery of a major fourth state of consciousness— the state of restful alertness — experienced during the Transcendental Meditation (TM) technique.

Now there are over 1,000 published studies on various meditation practices, with over 600 studies on the TM technique alone. Many universities, medical schools and hospitals offer classes in mind-body medicine and provide training in meditation.

Nevertheless, recent press reports about a scientific review [2] published in JAMA Internal Medicine (January 2014) raised questions about the extent of health benefits that can be claimed for meditation. While the review has been criticized as too narrowly focused to represent the current state of meditation research — it excluded many major studies and randomized clinical trials — there is an upside: The JAMA review may prompt health professionals to look closer at meditation and discover how far the research has actually come at verifying the health benefits and specific effects of different practices.

One meditation researcher, the physician and author Robert Schneider, M.D., FACC, is currently touring universities and medical schools across the U.S. to update health scientists, physicians and students about the latest meditation research and the role of meditation in stress reduction and the prevention and treatment of heart disease.

“Many doctors and scientists are recognizing that mind-body-heart research has crossed a threshold,” says Dr. Schneider. “With the recent publication of the American Heart Association’s scientific statement on alternative methods for lowering blood pressure, and the AHA’s publication of a long-term clinical trial [3] showing that the Transcendental Meditation technique reduces rates of death, heart attack and stroke by 48 percent — and with hundreds of other peer-reviewed studies on TM, mindfulness and other meditation practices — there is now strong scientific evidence that meditation, when properly practiced, may significantly contribute to preventing cardiovascular disease and promoting well-being. The data indicates that managing your stress is at least as important as a balanced diet and exercise.”

Read the full article by Jeanine Ball