Advocates of various types of meditation have argued for years that the practice brings a host of mental, emotional and physical benefits. But until now there was no evidence to prove it. Any studies that supposedly demonstrated the benefits of meditation were scanty, relying on small sample sizes and questionable techniques.
But a recent article on the wellness blog site of the New York Times describes a new, comprehensive study that actually seems to prove with scientific rigor the health benefits of what experts call “mindful meditation.” Click here to read this fascinating piece.
According to the New York Times article, this new study was published in the journal Biological Psychiatry. In the study, clinicians recruited a group of 35 unemployed men and women, the idea being to find people who were already experiencing a great deal of stress. Half the group received focused training in the techniques of mindful meditation, which among other things involves being intently aware of one’s present surroundings. The other half of the group received what the article calls “a kind of sham mindfulness meditation” focusing more in distraction and relaxation. Instead of paying close attention to the moment, the “phony” training involved humor and conversation, not concentration.
At the end of three days, the study showed, all the participants said they felt better and more relaxed. But there was a significant difference among those who practiced “authentic” meditation. Follow-up testing showed significant and measurable improvement in various parts of the brain that handle stress. These improvements remained months later.
Why is this important? Doctors and patients alike know that stress can have devastating consequences, emotionally and physically. The medical establishment is just now discovering what naturopaths and others have understood for years: many physical ailments from headaches to backaches to allergies may have emotional, stress-related root causes. Controlling these negative emotions should be a priority for all of us, and especially for aging adults, since aging brings with it its own host of stress-related challenges.
So what’s the take-away from the New York Times article? The practice of mindful meditation seems to bring demonstrable benefits, and you may want to consider learning more about the practice. But as with anything else, make sure you talk to a trained practitioner who will give you unbiased advice on how to proceed. When it comes to medical and psychological needs of aging adults, we strongly urge you to talk to a geriatrician – a medical doctor trained in geriatric medicine. Contact our office and we will provide some names of local geriatric specialists for you to consider.
Speaking of unbiased advice, we welcome the opportunity to provide comprehensive guidance to you as you formulate your own retirement plan, which we call your LifePlan. Why not take the first step by attending one of our free LifePlanning Seminars? Click on the Upcoming Events tab to find out the dates, times and locations of our next series of these information-packed seminars. We’ll look forward to seeing you there!
(originally reported at http://well.blog.nytimes.com)