New Study: Meditation Promotes Mental Health and Wellbeing

By Lisa Franchi on May 14, 2012

When it comes to mental health and wellbeing, Australian researchers found that people who have been meditating for years were 10% better off than those who don’t.

Meditation and Mental Health

For many years, various studies were conducted to assess the value of meditation to one’s health and majority of them confirm that this mental practice is indeed beneficial. On this new study, scientists, for the first time, investigated the effects of meditation to those who have been practising it for years. They found significant improvement in wellbeing, particularly in mental health among those who have been meditating for at least 2 years.

In the survey, more than 350 people who have practised Sahaja yoga for a minimum of 2 years (a form of meditation aimed to achieve mental silence) throughout Australia were interviewed to assess their mental health. In the study, respondents were asked how often they experienced ‘mental silence’ within a day. Majority of them (which constitutes 52%) reported experiencing it for several times while others (which made up 32%) only had it once or twice a day. Dr Ramesh Manocha, the head researcher and a senior lecturer in the Discipline of Psychiatry in Sydney pointed out that the mental health benefits of meditation are significantly high.

Quality over Quantity

Furthermore, the researchers explained that it doesn’t matter how many times a person sits down and do the actual practise of meditation. It all depends on the quality, not the quantity. The relationship however, is apparent as to how many times they have experienced mental silence. The scientists also explained that while they expect that there will be positive effects on people who meditate, they didn’t expect that such advantages will be much more profound. To confirm whether the results of their study were accurate, the researchers repeated the survey several times and they got the same positive outcome. They also checked the medical background of each respondent to make sure there will be no potential bias. The individuals assessed in the study were non-smokers and non-drinkers. They also considered previous studies which involved millions of people in Australia.

According to Dr Manocha, this research was one of the first studies that assessed the long term effects of meditation on mental health and wellbeing. ‘When we take the evidence of this study, along with the results of our other clinical trials, it makes a strong case for the use of meditation as a primary prevention strategy, especially in mental health,’ she said.

More on Meditation

Prior all the scientific studies about meditation, people have long believed that it can aid in the treatment for depression, anxiety, and stress. As an approach, meditation is unlike other therapies which replace negative thoughts with those that are positive. During each meditation session, a person realises how certain thoughts can aggravate their sense of suffering. And instead of replacing them, people would learn how to simply let the ‘bad’ feelings go.

 

Source of this article:

The University of Sydney

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