The effectiveness of mindfulness meditation proved to be dubious

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2017-10-15 08:30:07

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Conscious meditation is a special meditation technique includes focusing on the current situation and state of mind. It is called different: a thoughtful meditation, a conscious mental involvement, careful meditation. As you would call it, this notorious technique to alleviate stress and pain... has no scientific basis.

As a rule, conscious meditation implies that you are deeply thinking (meditating) about the environment, emotions, and breathing or, if easier, enjoying every piece of the pie. A long time science has linked the practice of mindfulness meditation with a number of possible health improvements.

If you stop and think about the world, or better yet, do this during meditation, you can come to the feeling of well-being, says a lot of research. Many experiments attributed a conscious meditation with improved cognitive function. One study even showed that meditation allows you to retain the ends of chromosomes (telomeres) that shorten as we age.

However, many psychologists, neuroscientists and experts in meditation the fear that the hype ahead of science. In an article published last week in Perspectives on Psychological Sciences, 15 eminent psychologists and cognitive scientists have warned that, despite the popularity of mindfulness meditation and the expected benefits to health, scientific evidence on it grossly lacking. Many studies on the topic of conscious and regular meditation, write the authors, poorly designed, compromised, inconsistent definitions of awareness and often lack control groups, which would allow to exclude a placebo effect.

The new article provides an overview of the 2015, published in the American Psychologist, which reported that only 9% of research on mindfulness meditation has been tested in a clinical setting that included a control group. The authors also point to multiple meta-analyses of placebo-controlled, concluded that the practice of mindful meditation often did not produce the most impressive results. In a review of 47 studies of meditation in 2014, which in total covered more than 3,500 participants, there was virtually no evidence of benefits associated with improved attention, reduced substance abuse, sleep improvement or normalization of weight.

Lead author Nicholas van Dam, a clinical psychologist and researcher in the field of psychological Sciences at the University of Melbourne, argues that the potential benefits of mindful meditation greatly exaggerated and literally sold for financial gain. Conscious meditation, and learning this "art" is only the US market is worth $ 1.1 billion. "From our review it does not follow that conscious meditation does not help in some things," says van Dam. "But from a strict science and you do not want to do loud statements." He also expressed concern that in 2015 at least 25% of the meditation studies included the monitoring of possible negative effects from interference.

Van Dam acknowledges that some good studies do support the use of conscious mediation. Analysis 2014 showed that meditation can reduce anxiety, depression and pain. However, it is a small percentage of the total number of studies conducted with insufficient rigour.

Two studies published this month in Science Advances, also support the practice of mindful meditation. The first showed that a thoughtful meditation reduces sameway stress, but not cortisol levels, which is usually a biological marker of stress levels. Another study links the practice of mindfulness meditation with the seal of the prefrontal cortex, a brain area associated with complex behavior, decision-making and the formation of personality. The authors called for further research to determine the medical meaning of these results. The lack of standardization in research on the subject of meditation over the years has led to some confusion.

Conscious meditation is rooted in Buddhist doctrine and theory. In the West it was popularized in the 1970-ies, not least thanks to the efforts of Professor at the University of Massachusetts John Kabat-Sinn, cognitive scientist, who founded the clinic stress reduction and the center for clinical mindfulness meditation. Kabat-Zinn developed a technique of stress reduction using mindfulness meditation as an alternative treatment for difficult to treat diseases. By the beginning of 2000-ies conscious meditation became very popular and sold in various variations.

"Actually, I suspect that a large number of promises to improve health will fail, mainly because treatment methods, phone apps and other inventions come onto the market without thorough research and strict standardization," says van Dam. A particular challenge is the need to bring it to the people who believe that improve their health, deeply mistaken in this.

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