Monday, January 13, 2014

Limits of meditation

Many people swear by meditation to center their lives, calm anxieties, keep them on a diet, improve their relationships, you name it.

I keep thinking I should try it myself--I used to do it back in the day when I did yoga daily. Was I healthier, funnier, more focused? Of course--I was younger.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins, JAMA Internal Medicine (Jan), looked at 47 previous studies of meditation. All were randomized clinical trials--involving a total of 3,515 people.

Participants did either mindful meditation (present-focused awareness) or mantra meditation (concentrating on a word).

Apparently only mindfulness meditation produced results, improving mild depression as much as an anti-depressant.

To be honest, the researchers could not find that many mantra studies--perhaps accounting for the lopsided results.

Overall, the effects of meditation on stress seem to not be confirmed.

People who come to meditation class, one researcher said, are suffering in some way and meditation does not seem to relieve that.

I would question that point--they might want to slow down, but is this really suffering?

The doctor said it helped them "relate to their stress." I am not sure what that means.

No evidence of harm from either practice was found. So, what can it hurt?

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