using the arrow buttons.
by clicking on the page.
the page around when zoomed in by dragging it.
the zoom using the slider when zoomed-in.
by clicking on the zoomed-in page.
by entering text in the search field, and select "This Issue" or "All Issues"
by clicking on thumbnails to select pages, and then press the print button.
displays sections with thumbnails and descriptions.
displays a slider of thumbnails. Click on a page to jump.
allows you to browse the full archive.
about your subscription?
Lions Roar : March 2012
47 SHAMBHALA SUN MARCH 2012 Scientific Minds Want to Know THE QUESTION THE STUDY THE RESULTS Is meditation effective for pain control? Can long-term meditation practice reduce brain atrophy and help prevent dementia? Can Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) help prevent relapses of depression? Does mindfulness benefit cancer patients? How does yoga compare with conventional treatment of lower back pain? Does meditation help women cope with menopausal symptoms? Does meditation affect brain structure? In a Wake Forest study 15 volunteers who had never meditated before attended four 20-minute medita- tion classes. Participants’ brain activity while a pain- inducing heat device was placed on their leg was examined before and after meditation training. Using Diffusion Tensor Imaging, researchers at UCLA studied 27 active, long-term meditation practitioners and 27 control subjects. 84 subjects in a study by Ontario’s Centre for Addiction and Mental Health took antidepressants until their symptoms went into remission. Then 1/3 stayed on antidepressants, 1/3 took placebos, and 1/3 underwent MBCT. A meta-analysis assessed the data from 13 research papers and four conference abstracts reporting the benefits of mindfulness-based intervention in cancer care. 156 patients with long-term back pain took a 12- week yoga course, while a control group of 157 patients received standard care from the British National Health Service. In a study at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, 110 women who experienced at least five mod- erately to extremely bothersome hot flashes a day did mindfulness training and stretching exercises. Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital took magnetic resonance brain images of 16 subjects be- fore and after they took a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program. MR brain images were also taken of a control group that did not meditate. Subjects reported a 40% reduction in pain intensity and 57% reduction in the unpleasantness of their pain. Morphine typi- cally reduces pain ratings by about 25%. (Journal of Neuroscience) Meditators’ brains showed a range of brain areas with stronger neural connections and less atrophy than the control group. (NeuroImage) After 18 months, relapse rates for the MBCT and antidepressant groups were in the 30% range, compared to a 70% for those on placebos. (Archives of General Psychiatry) Individual studies reported significant improvements in anxi- ety, depression, stress, sexual difficulties, immune function, and a variety of subjective benefits. The meta-analysis recommends more research into different styles of mindfulness deliver y, but finds that mindfulness approaches are a promising intervention in cancer care. (Psycho-Oncology) After three months, those who took yoga classes could under- take 30% more activities than those receiving conventional care. They also reported less pain. (Annals of Internal Medicine) After completing the mindfulness program, the subjects were less stressed and anxious, and their menopausal symptoms were no longer considered abnormal. They also slept better and rated their quality of life higher. (Menopause Journal) Brain imagery after the meditation program showed increased gray-matter density in the hippocampus, important for learning and memory, and in structures associated with self- awareness, compassion, and introspection. Lower stress levels correlated with decreased gray-matter density in the amygdala, which plays a role in anxiety and stress. These changes were not seen in the control group. (Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging) Levinson thinks a healthy mind may be one that balances its use of mental resources. “Mind wandering can provide the opportunity to envision your future, which could perhaps lead to clarity and perspective,” he says, “and yet a healthy reprieve from overthinking can free your mind to enjoy the life right in front of you. We may also tend to let our mind wander when our mental energy has been depleted, but resting a wandering mind, through a meditative discipline perhaps, may more effectively restore our mental resources.” TRANSLATIONAL RESEARCH is where the rubber meets the road. It’s where investigators get to see where relatively modest amounts of meditative practice can make potentially significant differences. CIHM scientist Lisa Flook is interested in exploring prevention and early-intervention strategies to promote well-being at a young age and is studying the impact of introducing mindfulness prac- tices in educational settings. “Mindfulness could offer many ben- efits to children’s mental and physical health,” Flook says. “It could help children and adolescents improve their daily well-being and