In one of the first studies of its kind, researchers say mindful meditation can have a positive impact on health. The study, led by doctors at the University of Wisconsin, determined the practice of mindfulness meditation impacts the left side of the brain and has a healthy effect.
The researchers recruited 25 people in a work environment with healthy employees. During an eight-week clinical training program on meditation, brain electrical activity was measured and the people were given the influenza vaccine. At the end of test period, the researchers conclude even a short period of meditation can have a positive impact on brain and immune function.
With the widespread use of meditation in hospitals and academic medical centers, the authors of the study say it is a very important topic. Most research has focused on changes that occur during meditation and not as a result of meditation. Whereas these studies have been informative, they tell us little about changes that are potentially more enduring.
The authors of the study say the meditation led to a significant reduction in anxiety for patients. Also, activity in the left side of the brain increased. Doctors theorize this area is related to the ability to react to negative or stressful events. In response to the influenza vaccine, study participants showed an increase in the number of antibodies during the study.
The authors of this study recommend future studies be done using functional magnetic resonance imaging technology to look more closely at the effects of mindful meditation. They also suggest future research look into the biological consequences of this type of approach.