We've moved!

Check out our new site at
and be sure to update your bookmarks.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Meditation Linked to Health Benefits, Again

A new study suggests that cultivating compassion through meditation can lead to reductions in the body's inflammatory and emotional responses to stress, which are linked to a variety of mental and physical illnesses. The study, led by Dr. Charles Raison, clinical director of Emory University's Mind-Body Program, divided 61 college students into two groups: one participated in compassion meditation classes based on a Tibetan Buddhist mind-training practice, while the other took part in health discussions. While little difference was found between the stress responses of the two groups, the researchers did find that the more hours students in the training group spent meditating, the less severe were their bodies' inflammatory and emotional reactions to psychological stress.
"It will require conducting stress tests before and after meditation training in order to conclusively show it was the practice of compassion meditation that resulted in reduced stress responses," says Thaddeus Pace, a professor in the department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Emory. "But these initial results are quite exciting. If practicing compassion meditation does reduce inflammatory responses to stress it might offer real promise as a means of preventing many conditions associated with stress and with inflammation including major depression, heart disease, and diabetes." Based on these findings, Pace and his colleagues will offer compassion meditation classes to patients at Emory Winship Cancer Institute, and the researchers are teaming with the Emory Predictive Health Institute for a series of studies on the potential long-term health benefits of compassion meditation. —Stephen Mapes