Mind Body Medicine
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XV Meditation

1. Astin, J.A. (1997)., Stress Reduction through Mindfulness Meditation. Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, 66,97-106.
This study examined the effects of an 8-week stress reduction program based on training in mindfulness meditation. This form of meditation has an emphasis on developing detached observation and awareness of the contents of consciousness. Twenty-eight individuals participated in the study and were randomized into an experimental group or a nonintervention control group. The results showed that the experimental subjects had significantly greater changes than the control group in the following areas: (1) a reduction in overall psychological symptomology; (2) an increase in overall domain-specific sense of control and utilization of an accepting or yielding mode of control in their lives; and (3) higher scores on a measure of spiritual experiences. The author concludes that the techniques of mindfulness meditation may represent a powerful cognitive behavioral coping strategy for transforming the ways in which we respond to life events. They may also have potential for relapse prevention in affective disorders.

2. Gordon, J.S. (May 1991). The Inner Life. The Atlantic Monthly, 115-118.
This commentary by Dr. Gordon discusses meditation including its history, different types of meditation, benefits of meditation, and the advantages of combining meditation and psychotherapy.

3. Kutz, I., Borysenko, J ., & Benson, H. (1985). Meditation and Psychotherapy: A Rationale for the Integration of Dynamic Psychotherapy, the Relaxation Response, and Mindfulness Meditation. The American Journal of Psychiatry, 142(1), 1-8.
This paper discusses the psychobiological nature of meditation (the relaxation response) and the use of a tradition meditation practice (mindfulness meditation) as an effective technique for the development of self-awareness. The mechanism by which the emotional and cognitive changes of meditation can be of therapeutic value are explored and the synergistic advantages of the combination of psychotherapy and meditation are presented. 4. Modulation of germination and growth of plants by meditation.
Authors Haid M. Huprikar S.
Institution Northwestern University Medical School, Highland Park, IL, USA.
Source American Journal of Chinese Medicine. 29(3-4):393-401, 2001.
Abstract So called primitive peoples of the world share a philosophy that human interaction via ceremony or ritual can affect the natural world. Is it possible to affect the germination and growth of plants by imbuing them with an intent to stimulate or inhibit them? We conducted a double blind series of experiments to determine whether a process of meditation on the water (referred to as "treated") given to a controlled planting of green peas or wheat would affect their germination. Peas were given water treated with stimulating intent. Statistical analysis was done using contingency table, Fisher's test, and Mantel-Haenszel analysis. The germination rate of 504 seeds receiving treated water with stimulating intent was 60.3% compared to 51.8% for the 504 controls (p = 0.006, 0.047, 0.003 respectively). A similar experiment was conducted with wheat with the intent of inhibiting germination. The germination rate of 2970 wheat seeds receiving treated water with inhibitory intent was 70.7% versus 74.9% for 2970 controls (p < 0.001, 0.0001, 0.001 respectively). During the sixth run of the wheat (inhibition) experiment, the seedlings were harvested and individually weighed on the tenth day after planting to determine whether there was any difference in growth. The mass of the treated seedlings was statistically significantly lower (mean = 97 mg versus 106 mg for the controls) when compared by analysis of variance (p = 0.000056). We conclude that meditation upon the water supplied to green peas and wheat can affect their germination rates and growth.

5. A one year follow-up of relaxation response meditation as a treatment for irritable bowel syndrome.
Authors Keefer L. Blanchard EB.
Institution Center for Stress and Anxiety Disorders, University at Albany, State University of New York, 12203, USA. lannekeefer@aol.com Source Behaviour Research & Therapy. 40(5):541-6, 2002 May.
Abstract Ten of thirteen original participants with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) participated in a one year follow-up study to determine whether the effects of Relaxation Response Meditation (RRM) on IBS symptom reduction were maintained over the long-term. From pre-treatment to one-year follow-up, significant reductions were noted for the symptoms of abdominal pain (p = 0.017), diarrhea (p = 0.045), flatulence (p = 0.030), and bloating (p = 0.018). When we examined changes from the original three month follow-up point to the one year follow-up, we noted significant additional reductions in pain (p = 0.03) and bloating (p = 0.04), which tended to be the most distressing symptoms of IBS. It appears that: (1) continued use of meditation is particularly effective in reducing the symptoms of pain and bloating; and (2) RRM is a beneficial treatment for IBS in the both short- and the long-term.

6. Increased dopamine tone during meditation-induced change of consciousness.
Authors Kjaer TW. Bertelsen C. Piccini P. Brooks D. Alving J. Lou HC.
Institution John F. Kennedy Institute, Gl. Landevej 7, 2600, Glostrup, Denmark Source Cognitive Brain Research. 13(2):255-9, 2002 April.
Abstract This is the first in vivo demonstration of an association between endogenous neurotransmitter release and conscious experience. Using 11C-raclopride PET we demonstrated increased endogenous dopamine release in the ventral striatum during Yoga Nidra meditation. Yoga Nidra is characterized by a depressed level of desire for action, associated with decreased blood flow in prefrontal, cerebellar and subcortical regions, structures thought to be organized in open loops subserving executive control. In the striatum, dopamine modulates excitatory glutamatergic synapses of the projections from the frontal cortex to striatal neurons, which in turn project back to the frontal cortex via the pallidum and ventral thalamus. The present study was designed to investigate whether endogenous dopamine release increases during loss of executive control in meditation. Participants underwent two 11C-raclopride PET scans: one while attending to speech with eyes closed, and one during active meditation. The tracer competes with endogenous dopamine for access to dopamine D2 receptors predominantly found in the basal ganglia. During meditation, 11C-raclopride binding in ventral striatum decreased by 7.9%. This corresponds to a 65% increase in endogenous dopamine release. The reduced raclopride binding correlated significantly with a concomitant increase in EEG theta activity, a characteristic feature of meditation. All participants reported a decreased desire for action during meditation, along with heightened sensory imagery. The level of gratification and the depth of relaxation did not differ between the attention and meditation conditions. Here we show increased striatal dopamine release during meditation associated with the experience of reduced readiness for action. It is suggested that being in the conscious state of meditation causes a suppression of cortico-striatal glutamatergic transmission. To our knowledge this is the first time in vivo evidence has been provided for regulation of conscious states at a synaptic level.

7. Functional brain mapping of the relaxation response and meditation.
Authors Lazar SW. Bush G. Gollub RL. Fricchione GL. Khalsa G. Benson H.
Institution Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts General Hospital-East, NMR Center, Charlestown 02129, USA.
Source NeuroReport. 11(7):1581-5, 2000 May 15.
Abstract Meditation is a conscious mental process that induces a set of integrated physiologic changes termed the relaxation response. Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) was used to identify and characterize the brain regions that are active during a simple form of meditation. Significant (p<10(-7)) signal increases were observed in the group-averaged data in the dorsolateral prefrontal and parietal cortices, hippocampus/parahippocampus, temporal lobe, pregenual anterior cingulate cortex, striatum, and pre- and post-central gyri during meditation. Global fMRI signal decreases were also noted, although these were probably secondary to cardiorespiratory changes that often accompany meditation. The results indicate that the practice of meditation activates neural structures involved in attention and control of the autonomic nervous system.

8. The efficacy of relaxation response interventions with adult patients: a review of the literature. [see comments.]. [Review] [88 refs]
Authors Mandle CL. Jacobs SC. Arcari PM. Domar AD.
Institution Boston College School of Nursing, Massachusetts, USA.
Comments Comment in: J Cardiovasc Nurs. 1996 Apr;10(3):v-x ; 8820315
Source Journal of Cardiovascular Nursing. 10(3):4-26, 1996 Apr.
Abstract The relaxation response is an integrated psycho-physiologic response originating in the hypothalamus that leads to a generalized decrease in arousal of the central nervous system. As such it is the physiologic antithesis of the stress response. This hypometabolic state is the foundation of many nursing interventions. Relaxation interventions have been taught for centuries. They include many theoretic and philosophic traditions and an array of specific strategies. The possible outcomes using relaxation response strategies in nursing practice are numerous and enable the patient to use the body's own innate mechanisms for health and healing. Thirty-seven studies of the efficacy of relaxation response interventions with adult patients are reviewed. Although numerous patient populations are addressed by the studies, some of which have methodologic problems, consistencies in the results suggest the effectiveness of the relaxation response in reducing hypertension, insomnia, anxiety, pain, and medication use across multiple populations, diagnostic categories, and settings. Recommendations for the use of relaxation responses in varied clinical settings are included. [References: 88]

9. Relaxation response in femoral angiography.
Authors Mandle CL. Domar AD. Harrington DP. Leserman J. Bozadjian EM. Friedman R. Benson H.
Institution Department of Medicine, New England Deaconess Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02215.
Source Radiology. 174(3 Pt 1):737-9, 1990 Mar.
Abstract Immediately before they underwent femoral angiography, 45 patients were given one of three types of audiotapes: a relaxation response tape recorded for this study, a tape of contemporary instrumental music, or a blank tape. All patients were instructed to listen to their audiotape during the entire angiographic procedure. Each audiotape was played through earphones. Radiologists were not told the group assignment or tape contents. The patients given the audiotape with instructions to elicit the relaxation response (n = 15) experienced significantly less anxiety (P less than .05) and pain (P less than .001) during the procedure, were observed by radiology nurses to exhibit significantly less pain (P less than .001) and anxiety (P less than .001), and requested significantly less fentanyl citrate (P less than .01) and diazepam (P less than .01) than patients given either the music (n = 14) or the blank (n = 16) control audiotapes. Elicitation of the relaxation response is a simple, inexpensive, efficacious, and practical method to reduce pain, anxiety, and medication during femoral angiography and may be useful in other invasive procedures.

10. The measurement of regional cerebral blood flow during the complex cognitive task of meditation: a preliminary SPECT study.
Authors Newberg, A. Alavi A. Baime M. Pourdehnad M. Santanna J. d'Aquili E.
Institution Division of Nuclear Medicine, Department of Radiology, University of Pennsylvania Medical Center, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA. newberg@oasis.rad.upenn.edu
Source Psychiatry Research. 106(2):113-22, 2001 Apr 10.
Abstract This study measured changes in regional cerebral blood flow (rCBF) during the complex cognitive task of meditation using single photon emission computed tomography. Eight experienced Tibetan Buddhist meditators were injected at baseline with 7 mCi HMPAO and scanned 20 min later for 45 min. The subjects then meditated for 1 h at which time they were injected with 25 mCi HMPAO and scanned 20 min later for 30 min. Values were obtained for regions of interest in major brain structures and normalized to whole brain activity. The percentage change between meditation and baseline was compared. Correlations between structures were also determined. Significantly increased rCBF (P<0.05) was observed in the cingulate gyrus, inferior and orbital frontal cortex, dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC), and thalamus. The change in rCBF in the left DLPFC correlated negatively (P<0.05) with that in the left superior parietal lobe. Increased frontal rCBF may reflect focused concentration and thalamic increases overall increased cortical activity during meditation. The correlation between the DLPFC and the superior parietal lobe may reflect an altered sense of space experienced during meditation. These results suggest a complex rCBF pattern during the task of meditation.