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Meditation improves the immune system, research shows

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    Meditation improves the immune system, reduces blood pressure and even sharpens the mind, according to research. The practice - an essential part of Buddhist
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 2, 2011
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      Meditation improves the immune system, reduces
      blood pressure and even sharpens the mind,
      according to research.

      The practice - an essential part of Buddhist and
      Indian Yoga traditions - has entered the mainstream
      as people try to find ways to combat stress and
      improve their quality of life.

      Now new research suggests that mindfulness meditation
      can have benefits for health and performance,
      including improved immune function, reduced blood
      pressure and enhanced cognitive function.

      The study, published in the latest issue of the
      journal Perspectives on Psychological Science,
      draws on existing scientific literature to attempt
      to explain the positive effects.

      The goal of this work, according to author
      Britta Hazel, of Justus Liebig University and
      Harvard Medical School, is to "unveil the conceptual
      and mechanistic complexity of mindfulness, providing
      the big picture by arranging many findings like
      the pieces of a mosaic."

      The authors specifically identify four key
      components of "mindfulness" - the state of
      meditation - that may account for its effects:
      attention regulation, body awareness, emotion
      regulation, and sense of self. Together, these
      help us deal with the effects of stress.

      Dr Hazel said the components are closely intertwined
      so an improvement in attention regulation, for example,
      may improve our awareness of our physiological state.
      Body awareness, in turn, helps us to recognise the
      emotions we are experiencing.

      She said: "Understanding the relationships between
      these components, and the brain mechanisms that
      underlie them, will allow clinicians to better
      tailor mindfulness interventions for their patients."

      However, the framework underscores the point that
      mindfulness is not a vague cure-all. Effective
      mindfulness meditation requires training and practice
      and it has distinct measurable effects on our
      subjective experiences, our behaviour, and our
      brain function.

      Dr Hazel said: "We hope that further research on
      this topic will enable a much broader spectrum of
      individuals to utilise mindfulness meditation as
      a versatile tool to facilitate change both in
      psychotherapy and in everyday life."

      This article is from the Telegraph in the UK 7:12AM GMT 01 Nov 2011
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