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Wednesday, April 2, 2008

The Science of Meditation

Meditation is sweeping Europe.

As a means of aversion therapy (to Depression), a course called Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) is offered in all of the counties across the UK and can be taken at the expense of the national healthcare system. It is not suggested for those currently suffering from Depression, but those who have suffered it 2-3 times previously. The doctor who founded the method refers to it as 20% cognitive therapy, 80% meditation.

While practitioners and skeptics have long argued whether or not meditation has any real impact, scientific research is finally being done on the matter, particularly in the US. Some studies suggest that meditation has real, and measurable, effects on the brain, with one researcher suggesting that the brains of those who had practiced meditation for years had thicker areas of their cortex. Another study, conducted on Buddhist monks and others, shows that people who undergo meditative training had more activity on the left side of their brains than they did before learning the technique. This side has been linked to feelings of happiness and enthusiasm.

While the data is still being collected and no real conclusions can be made at this early stage, scientists are excited by the scant findings and suggest now is the best time to collect more information. Whether or not the recent increase in interest is a passing fad, the fact that meditation could significantly help people suffering from Depression, suicidal thoughts, and similar emotional and psychological issues, is a promising development deserving of a closer look.

© C Harris Lynn, 2008

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