Mind/Body Practices: Ancient Traditions with Contemporary Benefits

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In October of 1991, the United States Congress passed a law dedicating $2 million to fund an office of the National Institute of Health dedicated to the investigation of nontraditional medical practices. Seven years later, the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) became an official branch of the National Institutes of Health. Although alternative medicine has only recently gained official recognition in the United States, the mind/body practices that pervade NCCAM’s research have ancient roots. For example, the some forms of meditation, a technique originating in Eastern religions, can be traced back thousands of years. The American Yoga Association reports that yoga dates back more than 5,000 years! As of…show more content…
Both forms of meditation can increase relaxation and awareness of the body and mind.
Research proves that meditation can be clinically effective for various conditions. A study by Delgado-Pastor et. al. (2013) enlisted ten Vipassana meditators to undergo two sessions, one in which they meditated and another in which they rested without meditating. The study found that meditation allowed for greater awareness of both present experience and autonomic regulation. Awareness of oneself in this sense, the authors suggest, can assist in reduction of clinical symptoms, which share similar psychological and physiological mechanisms. Thus, further research may find clinical benefits in the therapeutic use of meditative techniques (Delgado-Pastor et. al., 2013). Another study looked at the benefits of meditation for female breast cancer patients undergoing radiation therapy (Kim et. al., 2013). Specifically, the investigators were studying how meditation assisted symptoms related to the women’s anxiety, depression, fatigue, and overall quality of life. The study compared 102 women, some of who were randomly selected to partake in 12 meditation therapy sessions (in addition to the radiation therapy) for 6 months. Another group attended only radiation therapy. Results showed that the women who participated in meditation therapy had significantly reduced levels of anxiety and fatigue, as well as an overall
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