Harvard Medical School Endorses Qigong and Tai Chi
Medical Meditation Science and Research
Integrative Medicine and Medical Qigong Therapy
Interoception and Proprioception
Meditation is one of the four fundamental components of Qigong along with movement/posture, self-massage, and breathing. Qigong (and it's most popular moving form, Tai Chi) is an ancient practice which belongs to new category of exercise called "meditative movement". Meditation in combination with breathing and slow, gentle movements (although there are many forms of Qigong that do not involve movement) affects humans physically and psychologically through relaxation techniques which reduce stress through modulation of the autonomic nervous system. The practice has a proven effect upon quality of life, self-esteem, relationships, the ability to recognize and handle stress, pain relief, blood pressure, cardiovascular health, and more.
Qigong is moving meditation. "Moving" means either physical movement or movement of energy internally, even if no musculo-skeletal movement is occurring. The integration of interoception, proprioception, and mindfulness is a key component of the practice. You learn to create moments of peace within activity. All of this comes on a foundation of breathing.
[Global Wellness Institute: What is Mindful Movement? First Global Data on a Growing, $29 Billion Wellness Segment - June 28, 2021]
Mindfulness is both a type of meditation and a key component of Qigong. Mindfulness can be defined as presence, or moment to moment awareness. Paying attention to the present moment as life unfolds moment to moment is called "non-doing", or "being". The practice of being is an attitude (i.e. an intention) to be in the present moment on purpose. The attitude that is brought to the meditation will determine its long-term value and whether it leads to a changed state of mind.
Meditation in general and mindfulness in particular are extremely valuable practices for health. However, they are necessary but not sufficient. The profound power of Qigong comes from its incorporation of breathing (not all meditation or mindfulness includes any particular breathing discipline) and movement.
Committment to practice requires effort and consistency over time in order to achieve best results. Note that meditation is a part of any Qigong practice session, but the most enduring benefit is obtained by integrating Qigong into your daily life.
Meditation is increasingly being used in clinical situations for a range of conditions, and there is a growing scientific evidence base of its benefits. Qigong meditation and mindfulness training cultivates body awareness and promotes self-management of illness.
Functional Connectivity of Prefrontal Cortex in Various Meditation Techniques - A Mini-Review. Meditation is a practice of concentration and relaxation. In philosophical terms, it is a process of gaining self-consciousness. Although there is diversity in meditation (Mindfulness, compassion, transcendental, and focused attention meditation), interventions show that meditation practices improve prefrontal cortex (PFC) functions like cognition, self-awareness, attention, and memory and reduce psychological symptoms. These results are thought to be due to meditation increasing functional connections of different brain regions. fMRI findings show that meditation practices are associated with increased neural function and processing, default mode network, gray matter volume, and functional coupling in the brain area related to different parts of PFC. PFC's functional connectivity is associated with increased attention, working memory, cognitive control, executive control, emotion regulation, counteracting adverse effects, self-perception, and self-compassion. Furthermore, PFC's functional connectivity decreases anxiety, depression, perceived stress, negative emotion, and hyperarousal symptoms. We suggest a positive theoretical correlation between meditation and the functional connectivity of the prefrontal cortex. Altered prefrontal connectivity is seen in some neurological and psychosocial disorders. Therefore meditation can also play an influential role in treating these disorders. PMCID: PMC10026337.
Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction vs Escitalopram for the Treatment of Adults With Anxiety Disorders: A Randomized Clinical Trial. PMID: 36350591. See also: Mindfulness meditation reduces anxiety as much as a common antidepressant drug, study finds and https://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-11408829/Mindfulness-meditation-effective-LEXAPRO-alleviating-anxiety-study-finds.html
Mindfulness exercises can be as effective as anxiety drugs, study shows.
Harvard Neuroscientist: Meditation Reduces Stress and Literally Changes Your Brain.
Meditation may help you catch mental mistakes - Harvard Health. Meditating for 20 minutes can help people recognize mental mistakes and, perhaps, avoid them in the future, according to a recent study.
Meditation is proven to reduce stress. “This work shows that meditation influences the regulation of the HPA axis, which may reduce stress levels. Although the scope of research is currently limited, it seems that meditation may also influence the RAA system, corresponding with improved well-being and changes in hormonal stress. The RAA (Renin-Angiotensin-Aldosterone (RAA) system.) system regulates blood pressure, electrolytes and fluid balance. Meditation is becoming increasingly popular, with over a quarter of British adults practising meditation as a therapy. Another key finding was linked with the HPT axis, which determines and regulates thyroid hormone production and is particularly associated with depression and anxiety."
Long-Term and Meditation-Specific Modulations of Brain Connectivity Revealed Through Multivariate Pattern Analysis. Neuroimaging studies have provided evidence that extensive meditation practice modifies the functional and structural properties of the human brain, such as large-scale brain region interplay, and in particular, the Anterior Salience and the Default Mode networks. Focused attention and open monitoring meditation styles impact large-scale brain networks. Extensive meditation practice modulates large-scale brain networks, and the different meditation styles differentially affect connections that subserve style-specific functions. PMID: 36977909.
Study quantifies changes in stress after meditation. "Through a new method of processing HRV [Heart Rate Variability] time series data, the researchers developed a way to measure the change in the level of stress provided by meditation. This measure assigns a number to the level of variability of heartbeat interval time series before and during meditation. This number indicates precisely how much stress is alleviated by control of the heart-brain coupling through meditation...Historically, one purpose of meditation has been to reduce stress, however, the Army's long-term goal is to use it to mitigate the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. West said the potential for this to succeed has been dramatically increased with the new ability to quantify the degree of effectiveness in stress reduction using different meditation techniques."
Meditation is beneficial for brain preservation, effectively protecting against age-related atrophy with a constantly slower rate of brain aging throughout life.
Dynamic Change of Awareness during Meditation Techniques: Neural and Physiological Correlates.
20 Scientific Reasons to Start Meditating Today.
Movement-based embodied contemplative practices: definitions and paradigms. The experience of one's self in the world as a cognizant being does not solely emerge from neural activity within the brain. Instead, it involves a complex interplay of brain, body and environment, and the seamless integration of interoceptive, proprioceptive (including vestibular), kinesthetic, tactile, and spatial information. Pubmed 24782738.
The neurobiology of focus and distraction: The case for incorporating mindfulness into leadership. Two main neural circuits are contrasted: the mind-wandering default mode circuit and the attentional central executive system. These two systems act in an antagonistic pairing, where the degree of toggling between systems is associated with the degree a person can sustain focus and filter out unwarranted distractions. Excessive multitasking appears to compromise the neural switch of these two systems, thereby diminishing our focus and concentration. In contrast, mindfulness practice is shown to have the opposite effect by enhancing the neural switch, thereby enhancing leadership focus that can lead to greater flexibility, foresight, regulation, and creativity. To conclude, leaders who are excessively distracted, such as with multitasking, may be compromising cognitive brain functioning, while engaging in mindfulness may replenish the brain and thereby enhance leaders' ability to sustain focus and tap into higher cognitive functioning.
Concentrative (Sahaj Samadhi) meditation expands subjective time. The findings suggest that subjective expansion of time is most likely a general effect of attentional enhancement irrespective of the type of meditation practice.
Why Doing Nothing Is the Key to Happiness. Attention and focus are hard to come by. Starbucks built a $13 billion business because we need help paying attention. Psychiatrists increasingly diagnose "adult attention deficit disorder" and prescribe Ritalin for grownups who can't focus or pay attention. But are coffee and prescription speed the answers to our modern distractions? What matters most in life is the quality of our experience, the ability to be awake to what is real and true in our lives, for the difficult and the happy times, to be awake to each person we touch, to our own experience, to this very moment, to the simple sweet and alive gifts of a smile, a kind deed, the breeze on our skin, the firefly flickering the early summer night. The point of meditation, of doing nothing, is not an end in itself but a way to calm the mind, to see the true nature of things, and reduce the impact of suffering -- while increasing love, kindness, wisdom, fearlessness and sympathy. From that stillness, your life becomes more rich, your actions more clear, your words more direct and powerful and your capacity to be fully engaged in life enhanced. It is not a retreat from life, but a way to go fully into it and cultivate your own power and happiness. The article could be titled: 'Why Doing Qigong Is the Key to Happiness".
Meditation helps patients with medically unexplained symptoms. Awareness and acceptance of painful symptoms and emotions are key factors in the process of change in patients with persistent medically unexplained symptoms. Change of unhelpful behavioral patterns and increased self-care and self-compassion can also result from this process.
Study Revealed That Vajrayana Meditation Techniques Associated with Tibetan Buddhism Can Enhance Brain Performance. Contrary to popular belief, not all meditation techniques produce similar effects of body and mind. Indeed, a recent study by researchers from the National University of Singapore (NUS) has demonstrated for the first time that different types of Buddhist meditation – namely the Vajrayana and Theravada styles of meditation - elicit qualitatively different influences on human physiology and behaviour, producing arousal and relaxation responses respectively.
The Effects of Stress and Meditation on the Immune System, Human Microbiota, and Epigenetics. Psychological stress typically triggers a fight-or-flight response, prompting corticotropin-releasing hormone and catecholamine production in various parts of the body, which ultimately disturbs the microbiota. In the absence of stress, a healthy microbiota produces short-chain fatty acids that exert anti-inflammatory and antitumor effects. During stress, an altered gut microbial population affects the regulation of neurotransmitters mediated by the microbiome and gut barrier function. Meditation helps regulate the stress response, thereby suppressing chronic inflammation states and maintaining a healthy gut-barrier function. The current research team recommends the integration of meditation into conventional health care and wellness models. More information on Qigong and the Microbiome: Food Is Medicine.
Is Mindful Reflective Practice the way forward to reduce medication errors? Considering the benefits of mindfulness, the authors suggest that healthcare professionals should be encouraged to develop their practice of mindfulness. This would not only be beneficial in relieving stress, increasing attention levels and awareness, but it is believed that the integration of mindfulness and reflective practice in a 'Mindful Reflective Practice' could minimise some of the individual factors that lead to medication errors.
Breathing In vs. Spacing Out. Are mindfulness and creativity mutually exclusive? Implicit learning underlies all sorts of acquired skills and habits, but it occurs without conscious awareness. The trick is knowing when mindfulness is called for and when it's not. We know that being mindful is really good for a lot of explicitly cognitive functions. But it might not be so useful when you want to form new habits.
Spiritual Qigong includes integrating meditation nto one's life 24x7. Through meditation the relationship between you and your life changes and deepens. You gain new insight and perceptions on living your life. However, mediation is not something to be practiced in ascetic isolation from the rest of your daily routine. In fact it is the integration of moving meditation practices such as Qigong into the fabric of daily life that most directly result in significant changes and improvements in health and wellbeing.
7 Myths of Meditation. Deepak Chopra debunks some of the more common myths surrounding the practice of meditation.
American Mindfulness Research Association. Mindfulness is a quality of human consciousness characterized by an accepting awareness of and enhanced attention to the constant stream of lived experience. Being mindful increases engagement with the present moment and allows for a clearer understanding of how thoughts and emotions can impact our health and quality of life. Mindfulness can be cultivated through meditation practice. The AMRA Mindfulness Research Guide is a comprehensive electronic resource and publication database that provides information to researchers, practitioners, and the general public on mindfulness.
Buddhism and the Blues - Buddhist psychology's core techniques of meditation and awareness may have much to offer ordinary Westerners. To most people Buddhism is an ancient Eastern religion, although a very special one. It has no god, it has no central creed or dogma and its primary goal is the expansion of consciousness, or awareness. But to the Dalai Lama, it's a highly refined tradition, perfected over the course of 2,500 years, of analyzing and investigating the inner world of the mind in order to transform mental states and promote happiness. "Whether you are a believer or not in the faith," the Dalai Lama told a conference of Buddhists and scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, you can use its time-honored techniques to voluntarily control your emotional state.
Silencing the Monkey Mind: For those of us engaged in any form of meditative efforts, such as bio energy, traditional chi gung, or even Zen meditations, each of us can personally attest to the brain’s “wandering” tendencies. Long ago, Buddhist monks created an analogy describing the wandering activity of the brain akin to a “chattering monkey”.
Meditation Makes You More Creative. Open Monitoring versus Focused Attention meditation.
Meditation and Health: An Annotated Bibliography. A short overview of meditation.
RECENT FINDINGS: Recent meta-analyses and individual studies demonstrated common brain effects for attention-based meditative practices and active-based meditations in areas involved in reward processing and learning, attention and memory, awareness and sensory integration, and self-referential processing and emotional control, while deactivation was seen in the amygdala, an area implicated in emotion processing. Unique effects for mindfulness practices were found in brain regions involved in body awareness, attention, and the integration of emotion and sensory processing. Effects specific to active-based meditations appeared in brain areas involved in self-control, social cognition, language, speech, tactile stimulation, sensorimotor integration, and motor function.
This review suggests that mind-body practices can target different brain systems that are involved in the regulation of attention, emotional control, mood, and executive cognition that can be used to treat or prevent mood and cognitive disorders of aging, such as depression and caregiver stress, or serve as "brain fitness" exercise. Benefits may include improving brain functional connectivity in brain systems that generally degenerate with Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, and other aging-related diseases.
Meditation can be defined to include any of a family of practices in which the practitioner trains an individual to consciously calm his/her mind in order to realize some benefit or achieve inner peace or harmony. Despite lack of consensus in the scientific literature on a definition of meditation, most researchers agree that meditation implies a form of mental training that requires either stilling or emptying the mind, and its goal is to achieve a state of “detached observation” or “restful alertness.”[ 7 ] The foundation of meditation practice is rooted in the principles of “self-observation of immediate psychic activity, training one’s level of awareness, and cultivating an attitude of acceptance of process rather than content.”[ 6 ]
From the perspective of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), all forms of meditation that are essentially mind-body integrative exercises are categorized as “qigong”. Qigong is defined as “the skill of mind–body exercises that integrate body, breath, and mind adjustments into one,”[ 8 ] which addresses both psychological and physiological aspects of health. Although qigong has both dynamic (movement) and static forms, the meditative state—body, breath, and mind into one—is common among all of them. Given a lack of consensus in Western psychology about the definition of meditation and exactly what techniques it includes, in this review we use the established definition of meditative therapies in Chinese medicine. Specifically, we include all mind–body exercises, both dynamic (moving) form and static (still) form, which aim to integrate breath–body–mind adjustments into one. As a result, this includes all meditations, yoga, mindfulness training, Transcendental Meditation (TM), qigong, tai chi (or Taiji), and even guided imagery, as guided imagery is an ancient technique in meditation practice.[ 8] More...
Chen, et. al., MEDITATIVE THERAPIES FOR REDUCING ANXIETY: A SYSTEMATIC REVIEW AND META-ANALYSIS OF RANDOMIZED CONTROLLED TRIALS. DEPRESSION AND ANXIETY 29:545–562 (2012)Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Meditation: A simple, fast way to reduce stress. Meditation can wipe away the day's stress, bringing with it inner peace. See how you can easily learn to practice meditation whenever you need it most.
Emptiness meditation may be more effective at improving wellbeing than mindfulness meditation, according to psychologists at the University of Derby, UK. More.
There are few things I love more than the tangible, kinetic feeling of being calm. Learning to cultivate calm is an art, science, and discipline. Cultivating calm was a primary goal of the Stoic philosophers, Buddha and Buddhists, Christian and Islamic Mystics, and even soldiers facing battle. Every one of us faces personal battles every day. More.
An in-depth look at the science that underlies meditation's effectiveness. Siegel draws on his decades exploring the intersection between neuroscience and the nature of conscioiusness as well as his experience teaching thousands of students around the world how to harness the power of awareness in day-to-day life.
Herbert Benson and Jon Kabat-Zinn are the two people who have been most instrumental in the introduction and acceptance of meditation into standard western medical practice. Dr. Herbert Benson was the first to research and publicize the benefits of meditation in his ground-breaking book The Relaxation Response published in 1975. Benson's message was simple and straightforward. He argued that meditation could counter physiological and psychological adjustments to change which cause stress and accompanying illness. Benson recommended a meditation practice consisting of four basic elements -- a quiet environment, a mental object to dwell on, emptying all thoughts and distractions from one's mind, and a comfortable position. He called the result of such a practice the "relaxation response" -- physiological decreases in heart rate, blood pressure, muscle tension, and breathing rate. Although Benson's original relaxation response included meditation, unlike Qigong, it did not include movement or breathing practices.
Relaxation Response and Resiliency Training and Its Effect on Healthcare Resource Utilization. Meditative Movement such as Qigong and Tai Chi could reduce the need for health care services by 43%.
From Buddhist and Taoist meditation practices which originated in China and became Zen Bhuddism in Japan, Jon Kabat-Zinn developed a secualr form of meditation he called "mindfulness-based" and got it accepted and integrated into mainstream western medical practice through proven clinical results.
Q&A: Jon Kabat-Zinn Talks About Bringing Mindfulness Meditation to Medicine. Jon Kabat-Zinn, an MIT-trained molecular biologist, began meditating in 1966, when the practice was primarily the province of hippies and gurus, not scientists. Now, thanks in large part to his efforts, it has become mainstream medicine. Dozens of studies have since shown the benefits of what he termed Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) in treating cardiovascular disease, depression, addictions, chronic pain and many other conditions.
Full Catastrophe Living (Revised Edition): Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain, and Illness. Healing is a process of undergoing a profound transformation of view. This transformation is brought about by the encounter with one's own wholeness, catalyzed by the meditation practice. Healing always involves an attitudinal and emotional transformation. This is a texbook of the benefits and practice of meditation. It is perhaps the most widely used text for clinical applications of meditation.
Meet Mr. Mindfulness: How Jon Kabat-Zinn Brought Mindfulness to the Masses.
The essence of mindfulness practice is making the following seven key attitudes and intentions the foundation for your mind's moment to moment experience of life. These are fundamental to Qigong as well as any mindfulness-based meditation.
1. Non-judging: seeing experience as it is without adding interpretation or judgement.
2. Patience: understanding that change and understanding develops in its own time
3. Beginners mind: being curious about the current situation, as if you have never experienced anything like it before, rather than viewing it through a fog of preconceptions.
4. Trust: developing faith in the validity of your own body sensations, thoughts, emotions and intuition
5. Non-striving: allowing experience to be the way it is without trying to change it.
6. Acceptance: being open and willing to see things as they actually are in the present moment
7. Letting go: developing a sense of non-attachment to experience, letting thoughts and emotions arise and pass by without getting entangled in them.
Mindfulness: Getting Its Share of Attention. “This isn’t the old San Francisco hippie fluff,” said Mr. Tan, who started the Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute as an extracurricular program in 2007. More than a thousand Googlers have gone through the course, which uses scientific research and the profit motive to entice coders and programmers to be here now. Hundreds of peer-reviewed studies verify the benefits of mindfulness training, and Mr. Tan appeared familiar with all of them. Meditation thickens the brain’s cortex, it lowers blood pressure, it can heal psoriasis and “it can help you get a promotion,” he said.
7 Things Mindful People Do Differently Everyday and How to Begin Now!
A Personal Reflection on the Relationship Between Tai Chi Qigong and Mindfulness Meditation. The main differences are that with Qigong, relaxation is a focus and not a by-product; deep diaphragmatic breathing is practiced; and there is a focus upon balancing qi, or life energy.
How Mindful Meditation Boosts Creativity and Innovation.
Mindfulness Meditation: How It Works In The Brain. Mindfulness may be so successful in helping with a range of conditions, from depression to pain, by working as a sort of "volume knob" for sensations, according to a new review of studies from Brown University researchers. In their paper, published in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, the researchers proposed that mindfulness meditation works by enabling a person to have better control over brain processing of pain and emotions. Specifically, the researchers postulate that mindfulness meditation plays a role in the controlling of cortical alpha rhythms, which have been shown in brain imaging studies to play a role in what senses our bodies and minds pay attention to.
Default Mode Network, Meditation, and Age-Associated Brain Changes: What Can We Learn from the Impact of Mental Training on Well-Being as a Psychotherapeutic Approach? Regulation of the Default Mode Network via practicing specific types of meditation slows cognitive decline and promotes a healthy lifestyle, improving the quality of life in the elderly.
Trait Mindfulness and Functional Connectivity in Cognitive and Attentional Resting State Networks Mindfulness showed increased functional connectivity with neural regions related to attentional control, interoception, and executive function; and showed decreased functional connectivity with neural regions related to self-referential processing and mind wandering. These patterns of functional connectivity are consistent with some of the benefits of mindfulness-enhanced attention, self-regulation, and focus on present experience. This study provides support for the notion that non-judgmental attention to the present moment facilitates the integration of regions in neural networks that are related to cognition, attention, and sensation.
The Immediate and Sustained Positive Effects of Meditation on Resilience Are Mediated by Changes in the Resting Brain. Meditation causes an immediate enhancement in resilience that is sustained. Since resilience is known to be associated with the preventative effect of various psychiatric disorders, the improvement in stress-related neural mechanisms may be beneficial to individuals at high clinical risk.
Mindfulness found to improve mental health of students. Mindfulness training helped medical students at Bristol reduce anxiety, excessive worry, negative thought patterns and improve resiliency to stress as well as improve emotional wellbeing and professional development.
Clinical integration of Mindfulness-based interventions. This is an excellent review of mindfulness research published during the last five years. Over 500 scientific articles on mindfulness were published in 2012. This was more than the total number of mindfulness articles published between 1980 and 2000. A recent survey by the Mental Health Foundation found that 75% of general practitioners in the UK believe that mindfulness is beneficial for patients with mental health problems. Indeed, recent findings indicate that Mindfulness-based interventions may be effective treatments for a broad range of psychological disorders and somatic illnesses.
Mind-body therapies significantly reduce acute pain experienced by hospital patients. After participating in a single, 15-minute mindfulness session, patients reported an immediate decrease in pain levels similar to what one might expect from an opioid painkiller.
Mindfulness-based stress reduction, mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, and zen meditation for depression, anxiety, pain, and psychological distress. The goal of this review is to provide a synopsis that practicing clinicians can use as a clinical reference concerning Zen meditation, mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR), and mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT). All three approaches originated from Buddhist spiritual practices, but only Zen is an actual Buddhist tradition. MBSR and MBCT are secular, clinically based methods that employ manuals and standardized techniques. Studies indicate that MBSR and MBCT have broad-spectrum antidepressant and antianxiety effects and decrease general psychological distress.
Systematic review finds evidence supports the use of MBSR and MBCT to alleviate symptoms, both mental and physical, in the treatment of cancer, cardiovascular disease, chronic pain, depression, anxiety disorders and in prevention in healthy adults and children. Most of the authors are from Harvard Medical School and they include Herbert Benson.
Feeling Stressed? An Rx for Meditation. Ronesh Sinha, an M.D. at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation, shares why anyone who feels stressed can benefit from meditation and how to get started.
Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA) article by Johns Hopkins researchers recommends meditation. Clinicians should be prepared to talk with their patients about the role that a meditation program could have in addressing psychological stress.
How Mindfulness Is Revolutionizing Mental Health Care.
How Slow Breathing Makes You Relaxed (The Mercury News). Stanford researchers connect breathing to state of mind. One more layer of the onion peeled in explaining how Qigong works. Abstract: Breathing control center neurons that promote arousal in mice.
A brief report on the benefits of meditation, now being used in corporations, the military, schools, and increasingly by patients on the recommendation of their doctors.
When neuroscientists tested expert meditators, they discovered something surprising: The effect of Buddhist meditation isn’t just momentary; it can alter deep-seated traits in our brain patterns and character. More.
Lazar is one of several researchers who have demonstrated that certain areas of the brain actually grow larger as the result of an ongoing meditation practice. All these areas of the brain are associated with sensory experience, working memory and executive decision making.
“It’s well documented that our cortex shrinks as we get older. It’s harder to figure things out and remember things,” Lazar explains. “But in this one region of the prefrontal cortex, 50-year-old meditators had the same amount of gray matter as 25-year-olds.” More.
Stress is a physical and emotional reaction that people experience as they encounter changes in life. Occasional stress is a normal coping mechanism. However, long-term stress may contribute to or worsen a range of health problems including digestive disorders, headaches, sleep disorders, and other symptoms. Stress may worsen asthma and has been linked to depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses.
Some people use various relaxation techniques to induce the relaxation response, which helps release tension and may counteract the ill effects of stress. Relaxation techniques often combine breathing exercises and focused attention to calm the mind and the body. Some examples of relaxation response techniques are:
Stress and Relaxation Techniques
5 Things To Know About Relaxation Techniques for Stress
Relaxation Techniques for Health: An Introduction
Meditation for Health: NCCAM Clinical Digest for Health Professionals. November 2014. This issue of the digest summarizes current scientific evidence about meditation for health conditions, including cancer symptoms and treatment side effects, high blood pressure, menopausal symptoms, anxiety disorders, smoking cessation, and ADHD. NCCAM Clinical Digest is a service of the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, NIH, DHHS. NCCAM Clinical Digest, a monthly e-newsletter, offers evidence-based information on complementary health approaches, including scientific literature searches, summaries of NCCAM-funded research, fact sheets for patients, and more. The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine is dedicated to exploring complementary health products and practices in the context of rigorous science, training complementary health researchers, and disseminating authoritative information to the public and professionals.
National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) research blog Highlights New Research on Meditation. NCCAM is planning a series of blog posts to highlight some exciting work from its research portfolio. Currently one intriguing area is the effect of meditation on the brain. Meditation can be viewed as a kind of ‘mental exercise.’ New insights are coming from incorporation of brain-imaging studies into meditation research. In particular, studies suggest that meditation is accompanied by changes in activation of select regions in the brain, particularly the amygdala, a region associated with processing of emotion. A new NCCIH study goes further and concludes that the changes in brain function in the amygdala seen during meditation are persistent, enduring even outside meditation sessions. Research spotlight: Meditation Training Program Shows Brain Effects Even Outside a Meditative State.
Wise qigong practice can reset and balance the nervous system by releasing tension, and softening and lengthening the breath through mindful action. Thus qigong is really a way to offer metta (lovingkindness) and compassion toward ourselves.
I teach a form of qigong for meditators that I call Radiant Heart qigong. The bene ts of Radiant Heart qigong practice for meditators are many. To begin with, the forms are acces- sible to almost every tness level and can (indeed, should) be modi ed to t each individual’s needs. Qigong may be done while standing, sitting, walking, and even lying down.
The ease of performing qigong belies the transformative power it offers. It is precisely this ease that allows its mindful practice to open the gateway to the direct experience of be- ing—a quality that I call “presence awareness,” which can refer both to an action and to a state of being. As an action, “presence awareness” is to bring the fullness of our attention to an object—the breath, for example, or any feature of the physical or energetic body, the mind, or the emotions. When we rest in presence awareness, we embody a kind of poise of being in which we are present to our interconnectedness with all of life, and our consciousness can rest in its own pristine and unobscured nature. Qigong uni es the domains of our human being—spirit, mind, and body. More.
Teja Bell. Qigong Dharma.
The three main principles of Qigong practice are the concentration of body movements, the breath and the mind. Qigong has both a dynamic (Yang) and stillness (Yin) component. Qigong can be referred to as a mindful or meditation practice. The term meditation refers to a variety of techniques or practices intended to focus or control attention. Most meditative techniques are rooted in Eastern religious or spiritual traditions and have been used by many different cultures throughout the world for thousands of years. Today, many people use meditation outside of its traditional religious or cultural settings to improve their health and wellness.
Researchers have been collecting data on meditation for many years and countless studies have shown that meditation has not only a mental but a physiological effect on the body. Many of the findings show that, among other benefits, meditation can help reverse heart disease, reduce pain and enhance the body's immune system. ...More
From: The Art of Life, Simon Blow.www.simonblowqigong.com. Reprinted with permisson of author.
What are the benefits of mindfulness. A wealth of new research has explored this age-old practice. Here's a look at its benefits for both clients and psychologists.
Pioneer of mind body medicine Herbert Benson discusses his book, "The Relaxation Revolution: Enhancing Your Personal Health Through the Science and Genetics of Mind Body Healing," presented by Harvard Book Store. In the 1970s, Dr. Herbert Benson of Harvard Medical School ushered in a new era of understanding in the field of mind body medicine. Coining the term "relaxation response," Dr. Benson identified the body's physiologic reaction that is the exact opposite of the stress (fight-or-flight) response. In the four decades since that initial discovery, Benson and his colleagues have established the first effective therapy to counteract the harmful effects of stress. "The Relaxation Revolution" details Dr. Benson's recent work with colleagues in the field of genetics. More lectures at http://forum-network.org.
Several years before Engel’s paper, the late Herbert Benson was investigating the physiological underpinnings of stress-related hypertension. This work led to his exploration of the benefits of meditation as an antidote to the overactive stress response system’s pathogenicity. His seminal book, “The Relaxation Response” published in 1975 summarized his research on the calming physiological state that can be achieved with a simple focused awareness breathing meditation .
Mind body medicine: a modern bio-psycho-social model forty-five years after Engel. In many ways this present review owes much to conversations I was fortunate to have with Dr. Benson over the years. His work and the work of other pioneers like Jon Kabat-Zinn (1990), with his writings on mindfulness as the cultivation of an open, non-judgmental awareness of one’s present state, greatly advanced the field of applied mind body medicine. PMCID: PMC10060142.
A concise overview of the benefits and neuroscience of meditation, including how to control the monkey mind. In addition to a host of documented medical benefits, meditation improves awareness and attention. As Yuval Harari says in his book Home Deus, "In ancient times, having power meant having access to data. Today, having power means knowing what to ignore." Most meditation helps develop mindfulness. Jon Kabat Zinn defines mindfulness as "paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally." An incredibly useful skill developed through meditation and Qigong is de-coupling sensation from dialog about sensation, especially when dealing with pain.
There’s no way a fidgety and skeptical news anchor would ever have started meditating were it not for the science. The science is really compelling. It shows that meditation can boost your immune system, lower your blood pressure, help you deal with problems ranging from irritable bowel syndrome to psoriasis. And the neuroscience is where it really gets sci-fi. There was a study out of Harvard that shows that short daily doses of meditation can literally grow the gray matter in key areas of your brain having to do with self-awareness and compassion and shrink the gray matter in the area associated with stress
Living in the moment -- also called mindfulness -- is a state of active, open, intentional attention on the present. When you become mindful, you realize that you are not your thoughts; you become an observer of your thoughts from moment to moment without judging them. Mindfulness involves being with your thoughts as they are, neither grasping at them nor pushing them away. Instead of letting your life go by without living it, you awaken to experience.
Institute of Integral Qigong and Tai Chi
Why Being Present Is So Difficult (And What You Can Do About It).
Mindfulness: A Proposed Operational Definition. Scott R. Bishop. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice; Autumn 2004; 11, 3; Health Module pg. 230
Mindfulness meditation training alters cortical representations of interoceptive attention. One component of mindfulness training is the development of interoceptive attention to visceral bodily sensations, facilitated through daily practices such as breath monitoring. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging, we examined experience-dependent functional plasticity in accessing interoceptive representations. These findings suggest that interoceptive training modulates task-specific cortical recruitment, analogous to training-related plasticity observed in the external senses. Modulation of interoceptive awareness networks may be an important mechanism by which mindfulness training alters information processing in the brain, increasing the contribution of interoception to perceptual experience.
Let It Be: Mindful-acceptance Down-Regulates Pain and Negative Emotion. The researchers found that "momentary mindful-acceptance regulates emotional intensity by changing initial appraisals of the affective significance of stimuli, which has consequences for clinical treatment of pain and emotion." This result is another confirmation of how Qigong (through mindfulness) can affect emotions and thus have an effect upon the treatment of pain and emotion-related illness. Another way of saying this is that Qigong is an interoceptive practice. Qigong trains interoception, and mindfulness is part of that training. Interoception is involved in emotional regulation. More information on interoception and the role of Qigong in emotional regulation can be found on the Qigong Institute website at InteroceptionProprioception.
People who are naturally more mindful (e.g. people who regularly practice Qigong) report less pain and show lower activation of a specific region of the brain in response to an unpleasant heat stimulus, according to a new study supported by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH). The study, conducted by researchers from Wake Forest University and collaborating institutions, was published in the journal Pain. More.
By practicing meditation we play an active role in changing our brains for the better, no different from honing our biceps in the gym. Stanford University’s Dr Fred Luskin found that we have over 60,000 thoughts a day, of which 90% are repetitive. We are either lurching into the future, or leaning in the past. Yet after a mindfulness programme, Harvard Business Review found that meditators were 28% less stressed with 20% better sleep.... This is due to greater clarity, decisiveness and focus. Read article.
"The concept of mindfulness, which originates from practices of Buddhism, is defined as a focused awareness of one’s experience, and purposeful and nonjudgmental focus on the present moment." Once the focus on the present is obtained, one can apply that awareness to practice breathing meditation, interoception, and gentle movement and physical exercises, all of which are fundamental to the Art and practice of Qigong. "With practice, individuals learn to process emotions, thoughts, and sensations as they arise. Individuals learn to modify their reflexive conditioning from automatically reacting or worrying about the future to a more adaptive, measured response with greater awareness of the present moment."
Mipham gives a succinct introduction to the fundamental concepts of meditation with some deep insights from his book Turning the Mind Into an Ally. Strengthening, calming, and stabilizing the mind trains us to be undistracted, focused, and fully present in our lives.
Mindfulness is what we use to hold our minds to any object and awareness is the intelligence that tells us what we're doing
Sakyong Mipham explains some basics of meditation. Qigong meditation is practiced many ways, including sitting as in his example, or more commonly, while moving. Many people have a problem with sitting still very long, and that is why they try Qigong's moving meditation forms, such as Tai Chi. Also, meditation in Qigong focuses most on mindfulness and awareness as opposed to meditation on specific notions such as compassion.
A Personal Reflection on the Relationship Between Tai Chi Qigong and Mindfulness Meditation. There are some subtle differences between Qiqong, Tai Chi, and Mindfulness-based meditation. However, they all seek the truth of the present moment, seeing it clearly without pre-conceived ideas and habitual judgements, you can promote the healing of both physical and mental aspects of the self. This in turn supports the sustained practice required to achieve spiritual insight and personal transformation.
Many of us go through our daily lives on autopilot, not fully aware of our conscious experiences. In a discussion moderated by Steve Paulson, executive producer and host of To the Best of Our Knowledge, neuroscientists Richard Davidson and Amishi Jha and clinical mindfulness expert Jon Kabat-Zinn explore the role of consciousness in mental and physical health, how we can train our minds to be more flexible and adaptable, and cutting-edge neuroscience findings about the transformation of consciousness through mindfulness and contemplative practice. Intelligent, passionate people talking about neuroplasticity and meditation.
Is Mindfulness a Religion? The fact that so many of our traditions -- religious and secular, spiritual and philosophical -- come back to these fundamental practices of compassion and awareness suggests that mindfulness is simply part of the human experience.
More Mindfulness, Less Meditation. Don't expect more than meditation can deliver. In the modern world, meditation is far more effective as a technique of self-management than as a means of personal transformation, much less enlightenment. There is a difference between mindfulness meditation and simple mindfulness. The latter isn’t a practice separate from everyday life. Mindfulness just means becoming more conscious of what you’re feeling, more intentional about your behaviors and more attentive to your impact on others. The real challenge isn’t what we’re able to do with our eyes closed. It’s to be more self-aware in the crucible of our everyday lives, and to behave better as a result. That’s mindfulness in action.
Recognizing that the subconscious mind has the most control over what we do (i.e. our behavior) is a prime focus of mindfulness.
Ellen Langer is an artist and Harvard psychology professor who authored 11 books on the illusion of control, perceived control, successful aging and decision-making. "We have many, many studies that suggest that the limits we assume are real are artificial, and that we don't have to accept them at all."
Information and Meditation -- Improving attention in the digital-age. In the University of Washington Information and Contemplation class, participants scrutinize their use of technology: how much time they spend with it, how it affects their emotions, how it fragments their attention. They watch videos of themselves multitasking and write guidelines for improving their habits. They also practice meditation—during class—to sharpen their attention. Video 3:20.
The legend and reality of meditators being able to dry wet sheets wrapped around their bodies.
Monk changes body temperature thorough Meditation. Attempts to understand advanced mediation will lead to better treatments for stress-related illnesses. "My hope," says Dr. Herbert Benson, "is that self-care will stand equal with medical drugs, surgery, and other therapies that are now used to alleviate mental and physical suffering. Along with nutrition and exercise, mind/body approaches can be part of self-care practices that could save millions of dollars annually in medical costs."
From OM to OMG: Science, your brain, and the productive powers of meditation. This is a nice overview and introduction to medtiation that summarizes some of its key benefits and the medical research that proves it.
Mindfulness Research Guide. Mindfulness is a quality of human consciousness characterized by an accepting awareness of and enhanced attention to the constant stream of lived experience. Being mindful increases engagement with the present moment and allows for a clearer understanding of how thoughts and emotions can impact our health and quality of life. Mindfulness can be cultivated through meditation practice. Mindfulness Research Guide is a comprehensive electronic resource and publication database that provides information to researchers, practitioners, and the general public on mindfulness.
Lessons for the Health-care Practitioner from Buddhism. From its earliest days, Buddhism has been closely intertwined with the practice of medicine, both being concerned in their own way in the alleviation and prevention of human suffering. However, while the connection between Buddhism and healthcare has long been noted, there is scarce literature on how Buddhist philosophy can guide health-care practitioners in their professional as well as personal lives.The occurrence of disease is closely related to one's mental, physical and spiritual health, society, culture, and environment. It is not enough to approach medicine in a manner that simply eradicates symptoms; the psychosocial aspects of disease and its mind based causes and remedies must be a primary consideration. Holistic care involves harmonization of all these elements, and the Buddhist philosophy offers great insight for the physician. Mindfulness meditation, as developed in Zen Buddhism which originated in China, can help health-care professionals cope up with the stress and develop the essential attributes to improve patient care and self-care.
The UCSD Center for Mindfulness is a multi-faceted program of clinical care, professional training, education, research and outreach intended to further the practice and integration of mindfulness into all aspects of society. The Center offers a broad range of mindfulness-based programs and initiatives. The Center is a program of the UC San Diego Center for Integrative Medicine and Department of Psychiatry.
UC San Diego Center for Mindfulness Director Steve Hickman explains how the practice of mindfulness can alleviate the difficulties of life. He describes how stress can be alleviated with the systematic practice of living in the moment.
“This study is among the strongest, probably the most definitive proof that noise – even at levels that do not produce any hearing damage – causes stress and is harmful to humans." Article.
In 2013, the New York Times declared that mindfulness was "having a moment" (pun intended), and just a few months later, a January 2014 TIME cover story announced that a "Mindful Revolution" was underway, challenging the stressed-out, tech-addicted American status quo. This month, Scientific American has featured meditation on its November 2014 cover, representing another major step toward a meeting of the minds between ancient Eastern wisdom and Western science.
"We will examine here what happens in the brain during three common types of meditation developed through Buddhism and now practiced in secular programs in hospitals and schools throughout the world. The first one, focused-attention meditation, aims to tame and center the mind in the present moment while developing the capacity to remain vigilant to distractions. The second one, mindfulness, or open-monitoring meditation, tries to cultivate a less emotionally reactive awareness to emotions, thoughts and sensations occurring in the present moment to prevent them from spiraling out of control and creating mental distress. In mindfulness, the meditator remains attentive, moment by moment, to any experience without focusing on anything specific. Finally, another type of practice is known in Buddhist tradition as compassion and loving kindness and fosters an altruistic perspective toward others."