Brief meditation boosts attention, curbs stress
NEW YORK |
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Recent studies have suggested that months to years of intensive meditation can improve attention and lower stress. Researchers now believe that in less than one week of meditation practice with the integrative body-mind meditation training method can produce noteworthy improvement in attention and ones' state of mind.
The study of 40 Chinese undergraduates found that participation in 20-minute integrative meditation sessions over 5 days showed greater improvement in attention and overall mood, and lower levels of anxiety, depression, anger and fatigue, compared with students in a control group who participated in relaxation training.
Dr. Yi-Yuan Tang from University of Oregon in Eugene and colleagues report their research in today's issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Integrative meditation, they explain, "incorporates several key components body and mind techniques including body relaxation, breathing adjustment, mental imagery, and mindfulness training, which have shown broad positive effects in attention, emotions, and social behaviors in previous studies. This combination may amplify the training effect over the use of only one of these components."
As mentioned, after just 5 days, students in the integrative meditation group showed significantly greater improvement on tests of attention and mood than did the relaxation control group. Their reaction to a mental stressor was also significantly improved, as evidenced by a significant decrease in stress-related cortisol levels.
These outcomes after only 5 days of training "open a door" for simple and effective studies looking at the benefits of meditation.
The findings in this study highlight the potential value of integrative meditation for stress management, body-mind health, and improvement in cognitive performance and self-regulation," Tang's team notes.
"Our study is consistent with the idea that attention, affective processes and the quality of moment-to-moment awareness are flexible skills that can be trained," they add.
SOURCE: PNAS Early Edition 2007.
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