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20.04.2013

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Browse a few articles from respected sources such as The National Institute of Health (NIH), major hospitals and universities on the benefits of meditation, mindfulness, Qi Gong, Tai Chi and Yoga in reducing stress and anxiety. The benefits of meditation: MIT and Harvard neuroscientists explain why the practice helps tune out distractions and relieve pain. Studies have shown that meditating regularly can help relieve symptoms in people who suffer from chronic pain, but the neural mechanisms underlying the relief were unclear.
In a study published online April 21 in the journal Brain Research Bulletin, the researchers found that people trained to meditate over an eight-week period were better able to control a specific type of brain waves called alpha rhythms. There are several different types of brain waves that help regulate the flow of information between brain cells, similar to the way that radio stations broadcast at specific frequencies.
The subjects trained in meditation also reported that they felt less stress than the non-meditators.
Participating in an eight-week mindfulness meditation program appears to make measurable changes in brain regions associated with memory, sense of self, empathy, and stress. Research on the processes and effects of meditation is a growing subfield of neurological research. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has written, "It is thought that some types of meditation might work by reducing activity in the sympathetic nervous system and increasing activity in the parasympathetic nervous system," or equivalently, that meditation produces a reduction in arousal and increase in relaxation. Meditation is one of several relaxation methods evaluated and found to be of possible benefit by an independent panel convened by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). In a controlled study of ninety cancer patients who did mindfulness meditation for 7 weeks, 31% had fewer symptoms of stress and 65% had fewer episodes of mood disturbance than those who did not meditate.
Meditation can give you a sense of calm, peace and balance that benefits both your emotional well-being and your overall health. Meditation also might be useful if you have a medical condition, especially one that may be worsened by stress.
The use of Internet-based stress management programs (ISM) effectively reduces stress for a sustainable period, according to a Cleveland Clinic study published recently in Annals of Behavioral Medicine.


Twenty-seven articles (Qigong, n=7 and Tai Chi, n=19 and one study using both Qigong and Tai Chi) reported on psychological factors such as anxiety, depression, stress, mood, fear of falling, and self-esteem. One study reported improved depression, anxiety, and stress among patients with osteoarthritis for both Tai Chi and hydrotherapy groups compared to a wait-list control, but only significantly so for hydrotherapy. Non-significant changes in anxiety were reported in a study of Tai Chi compared to a relaxation intervention and two other studies did not detect significant differences in depression in response to Tai Chi or Qigong compared to usual care or inactive controls. Jin specifically created a stressful situation and measured the response in mood, self-reported stress levels, and BP, across 4 interventions, including Tai Chi, meditation, brisk walking and neutral reading. In a German study published in 2005, 24 women who described themselves as "emotionally distressed" took two 90-minute yoga classes a week for three months. In the mindful attention group, the after-training brain scans showed a decrease in activation in the right amygdala in response to all images, supporting the hypothesis that meditation can improve emotional stability and response to stress. Modern scientific techniques and instruments, such as fMRI and EEG, have been used to see what happens in the body of people when they meditate, and how their bodies and brain change after meditating regularly.
Herbert Benson, founder of the Mind-Body Medical Institute, which is affiliated with Harvard University and several Boston hospitals, reports that meditation induces a host of biochemical and physical changes in the body collectively referred to as the "relaxation response".
Supporters further claim meditation increases mental efficiency and alertness and raises self-awareness, all of which contribute to relaxation. One controlled study with a group of healthy workers found more brain activity in an area linked to positive emotional states in those who meditated.
Some studies have also suggested that more meditation improves the chance of a positive outcome.
While a growing body of scientific research supports the health benefits of meditation, some researchers believe it's not yet possible to draw conclusions about the possible benefits of meditation. Results confirmed a positive correlation between the number of meditations completed per week and perceived stress reduction. Most of these studies examined psychological factors as secondary goals of the study, and consequently, they often did not intentionally recruit participants with appreciable psychological distress.


Fear of falling decreased significantly in most studies except for one that showed no change. Women in a control group maintained their normal activities and were asked not to begin an exercise or stress-reduction program during the study period. They were also one standard deviation above the population norm in scores for perceived stress (measured by the Cohen Perceived Stress Scale), anxiety (measured using the Spielberger State-Trait Anxiety Inventory), and depression (scored with the Profile of Mood States and the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale, or CES-D). Some cancer treatment centers offer meditation or relaxation therapy with standard medical care. The same study found that those who meditated had a better immune response to the influenza vaccine than those who did not meditate. Meditation can help carry you more calmly through your day and can even improve certain medical conditions.
Qigong and Tai Chi have been proposed, along with Yoga and Pranayama from India, to constitute a unique category or type of exercise referred to currently as meditative movement. In another study examining blood markers related to stress response, norepinephrine, epinephrine and cortisol blood levels were significantly decreased in response to Qigong compared to a wait-list control group.
Often described as meditation in motion, tai chi promotes serenity through gentle, flowing movements.
Hatha is one of the most common styles of yoga, and beginners may like its slower pace and easier movements. Available scientific evidence does not suggest that meditation is effective in treating cancer or any other disease; however, it may help to improve the quality of life for people with cancer. Practiced in a variety of styles, tai chi involves slow, gentle movements, deep breathing, and meditation.



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