Articles & News Stories

Fighting loneliness and disease with meditation

The practice of meditation in its various manifestations has significant and measurable stre
of 3
All materials on our website are shared by users. If you have any questions about copyright issues, please report us to resolve them. We are always happy to assist you.
Related Documents
  Fighting loneliness and disease with meditation The practice of meditation in its various manifestations has significant and measurable stress-reduction properties.STORY HIGHLIGHTS A study shows that meditation reduces loneliness and inflammation in older adultsLoneliness is the subjective perception of feeling disconnected, author saysLowering inflammation helps prevent cancer, heart disease, arthritis, diabetesEditor's note: CNN contributor Amanda Enayati ponders the theme of seeking serenity: the quest forwell-being and life balance in stressful times.(CNN) -- Anyone who sees meditation as a hippy-dippy endeavor has found his or her viewincreasingly challenged by science in recent years.Meditation and other contemplative practices are continuing to claim their place at the table of mainstream medicine.This is true for a slew of reasons: chief among them, the recognition that hordes of us are stressedout, that stress wreaks havoc upon our bodies and that the practice of meditation has significant andmeasurable stress-reduction properties.In a recent study led by J. David Creswell, assistant professor of psychology at Carnegie Mellon'sDietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences, mindfulness-based meditation continues toreveal itself as a therapeutic powerhouse, with far-reaching influence on both psychological andphysical health.The study, published in the journal Brain, Behavior and Immunity, extends the benefits of mindfulness-based meditation into previously uncharted territories: helping to reduce loneliness andthe risk of disease in older adults.Mindfulness as a concept is an ancient Eastern practice and is key to meditation in that tradition. It means being present and in the moment, and observing in a nonjudgmental way.Seeking serenity: When lawyers go ZenSeniors' loneliness is a major risk factor for illness and death, on par with smoking, Creswell says.But while there's a good chance that your doctor will advise you to stop smoking, it is quite unlikelythat she will ask you whether you feel lonely and tell you to stop feeling that way. (And what if shedid?)  It's a big problem, Creswell observed. Lots of researchers have tried to find ways, like socialnetworks created through community centers, to reduce loneliness in older adults, but none of theapproaches really works well. Creswell's study proves that meditation may be a formidable strategy for addressing loneliness.Researchers recruited 40 healthy adults between the ages of 55 and 85 who showed an interest inlearning mindfulness-based mediation techniques.Each of the study participants completed a questionnaire assessing his or her loneliness. They alsoprovided blood samples, which revealed that a greater sense of loneliness was associated with up-regulated expression of pro-inflammatory genes (or greater inflammation in the body).The study participants were assigned randomly to one of two groups. The first group took part in aneight-week mindfulness-based stress-reduction program that included two-hour skill trainingsessions each week, daily 30-minute meditation exercises at home and a day-long retreat. Thecontrol group received no treatment.The researchers found that participating in the meditation program reduced the older adults'perceptions of loneliness compared with those of members of the control group, who experiencedsmall increases in loneliness.There is evidence to suggest that the effect was, in fact, attributable to the meditation practice andnot to the fellowship afforded by being part of a research study group or going on a retreat.The study cites prior randomized controlled trials that found the perception of loneliness wasunaltered after the administration of social support and skills training. And trials have shown that even when meditation is taught on a one-on-one basis, participantsexperience reductions in stress symptoms and improvements in physical health markers.Quick stress-busters and how they work Loneliness, notes Creswell, is not necessarily about a person's objective number of social contactsbut his or her subjective perception of feeling disconnected. It's about the distress underlying your social relationships, he said. Meditation helps people notget caught up in the spiral of distress. It provides a break wherein people recognize that that thoughthey feel disconnected, the loneliness doesn't have to define who they are. The scientists also made a second -- and arguably more compelling -- discovery. Not only did themindfulness-based stress reduction program decrease the participants' sense of loneliness, itsignificantly reduced the pro-inflammatory gene expression and the measure of C-Reactive Protein(CRP) in their blood. Higher CRP levels are a marker for inflammation. According to Creswell, meditation's ability to lower inflammation levels is particularly importantbecause inflammation plays a significant role in driving the disease process in a whole host of serious illnesses ranging from cancer, heart disease and Alzheimer's to arthritis, diabetes andirritable bowel syndrome. (If you have ever popped a daily low-dose aspirin to reduce chronicinflammation, you can begin to grasp the importance of this latter finding.)  It is amazing, Creswell said. For the first time, we are seeing that a behavioral practice -- payingattention to your experience from moment to moment -- has the power to change the geneexpression in your immune cells.  Amazing, indeed. Although the study did not assess whether the effects of reducing pro-inflammatory gene expression translate into more positive outcomes for disease, the possibilities aresignificant and far-reaching.Creswell is looking to replicate and extend the study's initial findings in a larger sample of 150participants, using an active control group. It's quite expensive and challenging to do this research on a large-scale basis, but there is potentialto help not just older adults but all sorts of patients -- people at risk for heart disease, depressionand other illnesses, he said.Does it have to be mindfulness-based meditation? Might other forms of contemplative practiceprovide similar benefits? We don't have the data to indicate whether or not there is something distinct about mindfulness-based stress reduction techniques, Creswell said. I suspect, though, that having a formalmeditation program with a teacher is beneficial because it provides structure and helps you trainand build skills, at least in the beginning. Spend money mindfully to stress less

Change Management

Jul 23, 2017


Jul 23, 2017
Related Search
We Need Your Support
Thank you for visiting our website and your interest in our free products and services. We are nonprofit website to share and download documents. To the running of this website, we need your help to support us.

Thanks to everyone for your continued support.

No, Thanks