Meditation for Modern Life

Mindfulness skills from a well being expert

If Your Doctor Told You to Meditate, Would You?

An increasing number of physicians are prescribing meditation.

meditation
Scientific studies come out every week regarding how meditation helps us. But when we have a health problem and visit our doctor—particularly if we have a serious condition—how often does our physician refer meditation, yoga, or deep breathing exercises as a form of treatment? In this blog post, we’ll explore why the medical community may be resistant to embracing treatments such as meditation, and I’ll point to evidence that indicates how the trend is changing. 

Science Isn’t Always Logical

In fact, science most often isn’t logical. It’s often based on things like tradition and history. For example when Einstein came out with his theory of relativity, there were only about one or two scientists who embraced his theory. Thankfully, they were the world’s top scientists, which helped his theory become accepted. Ultimately, it took the old physicists to die out and the new ones to replaced them, and they were the ones who accepted and became the teachers of Einstein’s theory.

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There’s a wonderful book by Thomas Kuhn titled, The Structures of Scientific Revolutions. It explores how science really isn’t as black and white and objective as we think—especially when it comes to the scientists themselves. I highly recommend the book if you’re interested in learning more about this particular subject.

Studies Indicate a Sea Change

In regards to meditation and the medical community, what’s actually happening? We know that about one-third of Americans use some form of alternative medicine to address their health and wellnes. This is in large part due to the increased use of Mind Body Therapies (MBT) like meditation and yoga. In 2011, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medial School conducted a study where they sought to find out how many doctors were actually referring their patients to mediation and other forms of alternative medicine.

The researchers gathered information from about 23,000 U.S. households. They expected that a very small percentage of doctors were actually referring their patients to practices like meditation. What they actually found was that doctors referred 6.3 million Americans, or roughly 1 in 30 Americans, to meditation and other alternative treatments. Clearly, the medical community is beginning to realize the benefits of meditation and yoga. If you want to read about this study, you can find it in the May 9, 2011 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

So what do studies, like this, this mean to you and me? We all know people who are ill—maybe it’s even you. If doctors are prescribing meditation to help improve their lives, perhaps this signals that we should embrace this for our own physical health and well being.

People have been meditating for thousands of years, and now research is showing how this practice is good for us. On a physiological level, it helps us with many stress related diseases, such as hypertension and high blood pressure. Thus if we can reduce our stress, our health will benefit. And when we’re healthy, we’ll spend much less on medical care. In my case, I’ve been working for 25 years, and I’ve only missed one day on the job due to illness—and that was a result of food poisoning. Other than that one time, I’ve never missed a single day of work. I’m a long time meditator, and I’m a strong believer that my consistent practice is a major reason why I don’t get sick. But if my example isn’t proof enough, a growing body of research points to the healing power of meditation. If you’ve never meditated before, try it, and see for yourself how it will improve your life.

 

Robert Puff, Ph.D., is a licensed clinical psychologist who has been in private practice for over 20 years.

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