New research suggests that mindfulness meditation – an essential part of Buddhist and Indian Yoga traditions – is an effective way of helping people to overcome stress and improve their quality of life. This research indicates that this practice has health and performance benefits, including improved immune function, reduced blood pressure and enhanced cognitive function. The research, published in the latest issue of the Journal of the Association of Psychological Science, draws on existing scientific literature to attempt to explain the positive effects.
Effective mindfulness meditation requires training and practice. It has distinct measurable effects on our subjective experiences, our behaviour, and our brain function. For example a study has found that people who meditate in the long-term have significantly larger hippocampi – the part of the brain associated with memory and learning. This study also found those who had meditated also had increased grey matter!
Stress is a major factor in heart disease; meditation experts say the technique can help control it. One study discovered that patients with heart disease who practised Transcendental Meditation cut their chances of a heart attack, stroke and death by half, compared with non-meditating patients.