Mindfulness meditation is proving a good way to ease two debilitating human conditions, loneliness and inflammation, according to a study published in ScienceDirect
led by Carnegie Mellon University.
J. David Creswell, assistant professor of psychology within the Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences, and his team of researchers found that resting in the present moment on a regular basis, an ancient practice dating back to the days of Buddha, actually lowered inflammation levels, a condition thought to be a precursor of many diseases.
Meditation has long been considered valuable in alleviating disease, but this is the first study to confirm it as an approach in reducing loneliness and the risk of disease and older adults, says Creswell.
For the study, the team recruited 40 healthy adults ages 55 to 85. One group undertook a regular practice of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, a structured program that consisted of weekly two-hour meetings in which participants learned body awareness techniques. The meditating group also meditated privately 30 minutes a day for eight weeks.
Each person was assessed at the beginning and end of the study using an established loneliness scale; blood samples were also collected.
“We always tell people to quit smoking for health reasons, but rarely do we think about loneliness in the same way,” says Creswell. “This research suggests that mindfulness meditation training is a promising intervention for improving the health of older adults.”
While the research suggests a promising new approach for treating loneliness and inflammatory disease risk in older adults, more work needs to be done, notes Creswell.
“It’s important to train your mind like you train your biceps in the gym,” he says.
The team included researchers in UCLA as well.
Writer: Debra Smit
Source: J. David Creswell, CMU