Nikki's Nutrition

Tuesday, March 07, 2006



What It Is: A state of relaxed awareness that is achieved by sitting quietly, closing the eyes, and tuning out distractions. Some forms of meditation rely on mantras or controlled breathing to keep the mind focused and still.

Claims: Regular meditation can help conditions that are affected by stress, including high blood pressure, mild depression, and anxiety, says Herbert Benson, M.D., the president of the Mind Body Medical Institute, in Boston, and an associate professor at Harvard Medical School, who has been studying the relaxation response for 30 years. Regular meditators claim to be calmer and more focused than they were before they meditated.

What’s Been Proven: There have been no systematic reviews evaluating the effects of meditation, but a few influential studies have shown that it can have a positive effect on the body. A recent study published in the journal NeuroReport found that in meditators certain areas of the brain seemed to age less quickly. Other studies have found that meditation can improve immune function. In addition, Benson’s research has found that the relaxation response can decrease heart rate, lower blood pressure, and slow brain wave.

Typical Treatment: Benson recommends spending 10 to 20 minutes once or twice a day sitting quietly, focusing on breathing, and repeating a word, a mantra, or a prayer while disregarding other thoughts that come into the mind.

Approximate Cost: None.

For More Info: To learn about different meditation methods, go to, the website of the Mind Body Medical Institute.

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