Effectiveness of Meditation in Reducing Stress

 

Recent research on the benefits of meditation in reducing stress-related illness has convinced many corporations nationwide - including Adolf Coors, Marriott, Poloroid, Hughes Aircraft, Pacific Bell, and NASA - to use meditation training as an integral part of their stress management programs. Meditation has been the subject of hundreds of clinical studies in recent years. Below is a summary of key studies:

 

1) Meditation significantly controls high blood pressure at levels comparable to widely used prescription drugs, and without the side effects of drugs. Hypertension, AMA Medical Journal

2) Meditators are able to reduce chronic pain by more than 50% while increasing daily function and markedly improving their moods, even 4 years after the completion of an 8-week training course. Jon Kabat-Zinn, MD Stress Reduction Clinic

3) 75% of long-term insomniacs who have been trained in relaxation and meditation can fall asleep within 20 minutes of going to bed. Dr. Gregg Jacobs, Psychologist, Harvard

4) Meditation decreases oxygen consumption, heart rate, respiratory rate, and blood pressure, and increases the intensity of alpha, theta, and delta brain waves - the opposite of the physiological changes that occur during the stress response. Herbert Benson, MD Harvard Medical School

5) Relaxation therapies are effective in treating chronic pain, and can markedly ease the pain of low back problems, arthritis, and headaches. National Institutes of Health, 1996

6) Reducing stress can dramatically reduce heart disease. In a five year study of heart disease patients, those who learned to manage stress reduced their risk of having another heart attack by 74%, compared with patients receiving medication only. Reducing mental stress also proved more beneficial than getting exercise. Dr. James Blumenthal, Duke University

7) Twenty eight people with high levels of blocked arteries and high risk of heart attack were placed on a program with regular practice of meditation, yoga, a low fat vegetarian diet, and exercise. Twenty people in the control group received conventional medical care endorsed by the AMA. At the end of a year, most of the experimental group reported that their chest pains had virtually disappeared; for 82% of the patients, arterial clogging had reversed. Those who were sickest at the start showed the most improvement. The control group had an increase in chest pain and arterial blockage worsened. Dr. Dean Ornish, San Francisco Medical School

8) Two groups were compared: meditators and non-meditators The meditators were less anxious and neurotic, more spontaneous, independent, self confident, empathetic, and less fearful of death. Atlantic Monthly, 1991

9) Twenty out of twenty two anxiety prone people showed a 60% improvement in anxiety levels following an eight week course in meditation. University of Massachusetts

10) A study of women with severe PMS showed a 58% improvement in their symptoms after five months of daily meditation. Health, 1995

11) High school students who study relaxation techniques stay in school more often and have fewer incidents of suspension. The Education Initiative, Mind/Body Medical Institute, Harvard

12) In a recent study, 77% of individuals with high levels of stress were able to cool down, lower their blood pressure and cholesterol levels, simply by training themselves to stay calm. Health, 1994

 

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