News Articles 2018-01-14T08:49:41+00:00

News in Brief

First Official Recognition

The American Heart Association acknowledges that meditation may be helpful in reducing risk factors for heart disease. The AHA states that seated meditation, added to a heart-healthy lifestyle, may also lower stress, anxiety and depression, improve sleep quality, lower blood pressure and help individuals stop smoking.

Meditation for Sleep

Meditation improves sleep according to a study in JAMA Internal Medicine. Half of the participants completed a six-session mindfulness program that included meditation, while the other half followed a set of instructions to improve sleep habits. Those in the meditation group had less insomnia, fatigue, and depression at the end of the study.

Milennials Are Meditating

The 2017 Stress in America survey revealed that millennials, (ages 18 to 35) are the most stressed out generation in history. The good news is that millennials are turning to meditation to resolve stress-related illness. According to a Pew study, 42% of millennials have meditated at least once in the past year and 27% at least once a week.

Meditation Techniques Help Students Focus

Meditation techniques are being used in schools across the country. A study by the University of California-Davis shows meditation practices actually triple students’ ability to focus and participate in class activities. Fourth graders meditating? Kindergartners practicing mindful breathing? It’s not a big deal at Harris Hill Elementary School in Pennfield, New York. Every class there has students doing both practices. As a consequence, “They’re less impulsive with one another, they think more deliberately about their words before they speak, so it definitely spills into the daily routines,” said 4th grade teacher Heidi Palmiero-Potter. “Mindfulness can be different things, like meditating or deep breathing,” say Adam Elbousty, a 4th grade student. “Like you breathe really slowly,” said Preston Payne, a 3rd grade student. School psychologist Michell Braun-Burget says that students are now acting in a variety of situations with more self-confidence. “They’re just more aware of themselves and what makes them upset, what makes them nervous, and they have better control of how to deal with their anxiety levels,” she said. “If one of the kids is having a hard time these practices provide them helpful strategies. I’ve heard students say, ‘do your breathing.’ The purpose behind the techniques that mindfulness and meditation bring to education is helping those children learn coping strategies—no matter what difficult circumstances they might be experiencing.”

A Growing Acceptance

According to ABC News, recent research shows meditation’s soothing effects can be detected in arterial walls and in the brain. Meditation was once considered outside the mainstream. Today more insurers, like Blue Cross/Blue Shield in Massachusetts and a number of other insurers in Oregon and California are paying for meditation training—both as a form of medication and as preventive medicine. Dr. Robert Thurman of Columbia University says “Meditation is the act of disidentifying from inner thought flow and concentrating on calming and healing.  Through meditation, doctors help patients detach from their pain and anxieties and cultivate a real connection between the mind and the body.” Practices vary, but usually include sitting comfortably, with eyes closed, spine straight and attention focused on the breath or a mantra to maintain a detached, calm awareness of thoughts and sensations. Physicians are increasingly referring patients to meditation programs to treat many diseases, including heart disease, anxiety and panic, job or family stress, chronic pain, fatigue, AIDS, cancer, HIV infection, migraine and other types of headaches, high blood pressure, sleep disturbances, skin disorders and type A behaviors.

Wireless Sensors

Scripps Translational Science Institute and the Chopra Foundation have concluded a new study using wireless devices to measure vital signs in a more precise way to determine the effects of meditation on the heart and vascular system.  Program director, Dr. Eric Topol expects the results to be released in 2015.

Dementia and Alzheimer’s

Research led by Rebecca Wells, MD at Wake Forest Medical Center indicates that meditation and yoga can be helpful in treating dementia and Alzheimer’s disease in patients with mild cognitive impairment.  Dr. Wells says, “If it can delay the symptoms of cognitive decline even a little, it can contribute to improved quality of life.”

Meditation Linked to Low Blood Fats

Elderly, long-term meditators have lower blood levels of lipid peroxides, substances linked to heart disease, compared with elderly people who do not meditate. According to a recently published scientific study in the Journal of Psychosomatic Medicine, individuals may be able to reduce atherosclerosis and slow the aging process through meditation techniques.

Lipid peroxides are compounds resulting from the oxidation of blood-borne fats. These substances are thought to accumulate on the lining of arteries, contributing to arteriosclerosis or “hardening of the arteries.” In the study, blood tests revealed “significantly lower (15 percent less) serum levels of lipid peroxides” in the group of meditators as compared to the non-meditators. The researchers theorize that meditation, in reducing psychological stress levels, may also trigger an increase in a hormone which enhances antioxidant levels in the human system, thereby retarding the aging process.

Meditation Helps Provide Relief From Anxiety, Pain, Depression

Meditation is helpful for relieving anxiety, pain, and depression, according to a systematic research review published in JAMA Internal Medicine. The review reported a small to moderate effect of mindfulness and mantra meditation techniques in reducing emotional symptoms, such as anxiety, depression, and stress, and improving physical symptoms, such as pain. For depression, meditation was about as effective as an antidepressant.

Burnout Rates Rise

A 2017 AMA Medscape Lifestyle Report asked physicians from 27 medical specialties to grade the severity of their burnout on a scale of 1 to 7—one being that it does not interfere, and seven indicating thoughts of leaving medicine.  All but one specialty chose a level four or higher.  Emergency medicine was most affected—with nearly 60 percent saying they feel burned out (up from half in 2013).  More than 14,000 physicians surveyed named the following four concerns as the top causes of burnout: too many bureaucratic tasks, spending too many hours at work, feeling like just a cog in a wheel, increased computerization of practice.

A Sense of Calling

A study carried out by the Mayo Clinic, of internal and external factors that keep physicians motivated and prevent burnout shows that having a personal sense of calling or a deep commitment to medicine is a key factor in physicians’ well-being.  The study also found that extrinsic incentives, such as increased salary, are less meaningful.  According to lead researcher, Audiey C. Kao, MD PhD, “If the practice of medicine is not seen as work that is personally rewarding and serving a greater good, physician performance may suffer and, more importantly, so too  may the quality of care that patients receive.”

Taking Care of the Physician

According to a November 2017 New York Times article, a growing body of research shows that physician burnout and depression are linked to medical errors and to the kind of depersonalized care that is often both less effective and less palatable.

Easing Physician Burnout

Meditation can reverse physician burnout, according to a study published in the September/October 2013 Annals of Family Medicine. Dr. Mary Catherine Beach of Johns Hopkins states, “This study supports meditation as a way to improve the health of both doctors and their patients. Meditation helps doctors listen better, talk less, and see clearer what patients need.”

Docs vs. the Public

The American Medical Association and the Mayo Clinic recently conducted a study to determine how physician burnout differs from burnout in the general working population. The study, published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings, found that compared with the general U.S. population, physicians worked a median of 10 hours more per week, displayed higher rates of emotional exhaustion and reported lower satisfaction with work/life balance. Though the general population does experience burnout, the changing state of the healthcare system is clearly driving the dramatic increases in physician burnout.

Harvard Psychiatrist Studies Meditation and the Chronically Stressed

Scientists are getting close to proving what Yoga Scientists have held to be true for thousands of years: meditation can ward off stress and disease. John Denninger, a psychiatrist at Harvard Medical School, is leading a five-year study on how the ancient practices affect genes and brain activity in the chronically stressed. His latest work follows a study he and others published in 2014 showing how mind- body techniques can switch on and off some genes linked to stress and immune function. While hundreds of studies have been conducted on the mental health benefits of meditation and yoga, they have tended to rely on blunt tools like participant questionnaires, as well as heart rate and blood pressure monitoring. Only in the past few years have neuro-imaging and genomics technology used in Denninger’s latest studies allowed scientists to measure physiological changes in greater detail. “There is a true biological effect,” said Denninger. “The kinds of things that happen when you meditate do have effects throughout the body, not just in the brain.”

This new study may persuade more doctors to try an alternative route for tackling the source of many modern ailments. Stress-induced conditions can include everything from hypertension and infertility to depression and even the aging process. They account for 60 to 90 percent of […]

Multitasking and Chronic Stress

Why Are Multi-Taskers So Stressed Out?

Nothing gets the stress levels revved up like multitasking. We’ve all been there – spread too thin, feeling a lack of satisfaction, perhaps even bitter. Well, there’s a reason multitasking is taking a toll on you. By definition, multitasking is an impossible feat – IMPOSSIBLE! No wonder you feel stressed out.

So what to do when you’re in a time crunch, trying to do 25 things at once, accomplishing very little? While it may sound counter-intuitive, you can actually get more done in less time by S L O W I N G the mind.

Our modern culture demands multi-pointed attention—even though such demands are really quite impossible to fulfill. Simply put, the brain cannot observe two objects at the same time. To provide us the illusion that we are multitasking, adrenaline surges through the body stimulating the brain to move attention rapidly back and forth from one object to another. The elevated hormone levels created by habitual multitasking can depress both the immune system and the mind.

Single-pointed attention actually slows the mind in order to concentrate and focus our creative energy. As a result, we can gain access to the superconscious portion of the mind from which all wisdom flows. One-pointed attention enables us to accomplish more in less time, with fewer mistakes and greater satisfaction.

The greatest artistic, creative and productive […]