The scientific and medical communities are continually providing evidence that shows the health benefits of meditation. But how many doctors are actually referring their patients to forms of alternative medicine, such as meditation? A May 2011 joint study by the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) and the Harvard Medical School shed light on this matter.
Researchers gathered information from about 23,000 U.S. households. From the beginning, they expected that a very, very small percentage of doctors were actually referring their patients to participate in MBT’s such as meditation.
But what they actually discovered was that 6.3 million Americans, or roughly 1 in 30 of us, are being referred by doctors to practice activities like meditation. These findings surprised the researchers. The high number of referrals showed that doctors are recognizing the benefits of meditation and yoga. If you want to read about this study in more detail, you can find it in the May 9, 2011 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.
Meditation Over Meditation
So what does this mean to people like you and me? We know that about one-third of Americans use some form of alternative medicine like Mind Body Therapies (MBT), which include meditation and yoga. But if doctors are prescribing things like meditation to help improve our lives, perhaps we too can embrace this for our own physical health and well being without a doctor’s recommendation.
The advantages of meditation over medication are that meditation doesn’t require a prescription, it’s inexpensive to do (even free if you listen to podcasts such as the ones I provide), and the main side effects are relaxation and a sense of peacefulness and well being.
Perhaps you can help educate the medical community by providing copies of free podcasts to your doctor, such as the ones I publish on my website (especially the podcasts that focus on research and meditation). These will help enlighten healthcare professionals regarding the facts and research on this particular subject. By spreading the good news about meditation, we can all play an important role in educating the medical community on meditation’s benefits. If we can help inform them, then we are helping millions of people around the world to improve their health.
The bottom line is that mediation is good for us. From a medical perspective, it keeps us healthy and helps us with countless stress related-illnesses. It does this by reducing stress, which increases health. And healthier people spend a lot less money going to the doctor.
In my case, over the past 25 years that I’ve worked as a private practice licensed therapist, I’ve only missed one day of work due to illness. And that illness came from food poisoning. Aside from my anecdotal experience, however, there is more and more scientific evidence regarding how meditation improves our health and well being. And as the Beth Israel/Harvard study shows, the medical community is embracing the practice as well.