Mindfulness Meditation Can Give Patients Control Over Levels of Depression

In a fairly recent post, I reported on a conversation between Dr. John Kabat-Zinn and Dr. Kelly McGonigal. The title of the post was,  The Science Of Yoga And Healing.

The secular meditation courses

The secular meditation courses now being rolled out by the NHS are a lot easier than the one the Buddha taught. Photograph: Guardian

One of the main points of discussion occurred when Kelly McGonigal made a statement to the fact that mindfulness meditation can give patients control over levels of depression. In fact, mindfulness meditation is being prescribed rather than medication or therapy in some cases of depression.

In a recent article in The Guardian, the NHS recognises that mindfulness meditation is good for depression. Mia Hansson wrote,

Mindfulness meditation has been shown to give patients control over their own depression and anxiety levels and levels of chronic pain, according to a paper published earlier this month in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience.

Previous studies have found that mindfulness meditation can cut the recurrence of depression by 50%, and neuroimaging scans have shown significant positive change in brain activity of long-term meditators. But while scientists knew mindfulness was having an effect, they have not known how until now.

,,,Mindfulness gives patients control over this habitual chain via a “body scan” technique, where patients systematically engage and disengage with the sensations in each part of the body. As they do so, alpha rhythms, which organise the flow of sensory information in the brain, increase and decrease. Kerr describes this as a “sensory volume knob” and it is this flexible focusing skill which, the paper proposes, “regulates attention so that it does not become biased toward negative physical sensations and thoughts, as in depression”. Early Buddhists advanced a similar theory 2,500 years ago in a famous practice text called “Mindfulness of the body and breath”.  more »

The programs offered by the NHS have elements of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). For example, the article says that the program uses the body scan as well as meeting for eight weeks.

If you know anyone suffering from depression, please share this article with them. Please write your comments below.

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