Meditation

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Category: Life Style Options

What is it?

Meditation is a self directed practice for relaxing the body and calming the mind. Most meditative techniques have come to the West from Eastern religious practices, particularly India, China, and Japan, but can be found in all cultures of the world. Until recently, the primary purpose of meditation has been religious, although its health benefits have long been recognized. It is now being further explored as a way of reducing stress on both mind and body.

How does it work?

Meditation works in strengthening the mind by training, or reprogramming our way of thinking. Meditation requires positive, calm and relaxing thoughts to occupy all thinking. Meditation not only encourages self love, it requires it to be successful.

Is it effective?

Meditation has previously shown to be effective in decreasing mood disturbance and stress symptoms in both male and female patients with a wide variety of cancer diagnoses and heart disease.

In relation to PTSD, meditation has shown reduction in symptom severity as well as reduction in substance abuse with the use of ‘Vipassana’ meditation as treatment in an incarcerated population. A pilot study examined the effects of meditation for PTSD, depression, and anxiety symptoms among African American and Caucasian mental health workers. Results indicated that participants’ PTSD and anxiety symptoms significantly decreased with intervention with improvements regarding the amount of time spent in meditation practice.

Are there any disadvantages?

First timers may find mediation overwhelming and depending upon the type of mediation technique used, may find prolonged meditation postures tiring. Meditation may be offered as part of, or in combination with, other interventions for PTSD.

Where do you get it?

Community groups and instructors may run meditation classes. There are also therapists who teach meditation, and these are listed in the appropriate section of the Yellow Pages. The natural therapies webpage also lists a directory of trained professionals.

What are the evidence limitations?

Unfortunately only subjective measures of self reported PTSD were used in the studies for PTSD and as such the DSM-IV was not utilized. To date there continues to be minimal literature on meditation as an intervention for PTSD and therefore more research is required.

Recommendations

Meditation as a treatment technique for PTSD may be useful but caution should be taken as the evidence is limited.

Key References

Simpson, TL, Kaysen, D, Bowen, S, MacPherson, LM, Chawla, N, Blume, A, Marlatt, GA & Larimer, M, 2007, ‘PTSD Symptoms, Substance Use, and Vipassana Meditation among Incarcerated Individuals’, Journal of Traumatic Stress, Vol. 20, no. 3, pp. 239–249.

Speca, M, Carlson, LE, Goodey, E, & Angen, M 2000, ‘A Randomized, Wait-List Controlled Clinical Trial: The Effect of a Mindfulness Meditation-Based Stress Reduction Program on Mood and Symptoms of Stress in Cancer Outpatients’, Psychosomatic Medicine, vol. 62 pp. 613–622.

Tacon, AM, McComb, J, Caldera, Y & Randolph, P 2003, ‘Mindfulness Meditation, Anxiety Reduction, and Heart Disease A Pilot Study’, Family and Community Health, vol. 26, no. 1, pp. 25–33.

Waelde, LC, Uddo, M, Marquett, R, Ropelato, M, Freightman, S, Pardo, A & Salazar, J 2008,‘A Pilot Study of Meditation for Mental Health Workers Following Hurricane Katrina’, Journal of Traumatic Stress, Vol. 21, no.5, pp. 497–500.

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