New NCCIH Analysis of Meditation Styles

Below is a new analysis of meditation effects from the NCCIH based upon a large 2012 survey.

Meditators and Non-meditators Differ on Demographic Factors, Health Behaviors, Health Status, and Health Care Access, New Analysis Shows

Senior doing a yoga pose on a yoga mat

© ThinkStock

 

A new analysis shows that meditators differed from nonmeditators on key factors, such as demographics, health behaviors, health status, and health care access. These results expand on the relatively limited information known about the characteristics of people who practice meditation. The findings, published in the journal BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, are based on data from the 2012 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), a large survey conducted annually by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics.

In growing recognition of the diversity of traditions and practices, the 2012 NHIS collected information on three common meditation styles—mantra, mindfulness, and spiritual meditation—to provide greater insight on these practices. The analysis examined the prevalence and patterns of use among 34,525 adults during the 12 months prior to the survey.*

Comparing meditators and nonmeditators, the results showed that:

  • Meditators were more likely than nonmeditators to be middle-aged, white, female, college-educated, and living in the Western United States.
  • Meditators were more likely to engage in preventive health practices such as physical activity, quitting smoking, and having their cholesterol checked.
  • Meditators were more likely to be underweight/heathly body weight (41% versus 31%).
  • Meditators had more health concerns, including one or more functional limitations (45% versus 34%), chronic back pain (39% versus 27%), and depression (22% versus 9%).
  • Meditators were more likely to have visited a conventional health care provider 10 or more times in the previous 12 months (26% versus 13%).

Looking at exclusive use of one of the three types of meditation revealed the following:

  • Individuals in all three meditation groups shared characteristics found among users of other complementary health practices, especially self-care or wellness-oriented activities such as yoga.
  • Meditation prevalence was typically higher for survey respondents who were female, non-Hispanic white, college-educated, and physically active; who used acupuncture, yoga, and vegetarian diets; and who reported depression as well as higher use of conventional health care services.
  • The use of spiritual meditation was more prevalent among those reporting health complaints, using more conventional health services, and being a former drinker and/or a former smoker. Spiritual meditation was also the largest meditation group.

Looking at mindfulness meditation specifically:

  • More respondents practiced mindfulness meditation for wellness than to treat a specific health condition (73% versus 30%).
  • Stress management, emotional well-being, having an increased sense of control over health issues, and better sleep were the top wellness-related reasons reported for practicing mindfulness meditation.
  • Meditators were more likely than nonmeditators to use other complementary health approaches, including provider-based practices such as chiropractic and self-care approaches such as yoga.

The researchers concluded that use of meditation may be more about the type of person practicing than about the specific type of meditation practiced—people using diverse methods to support health and well-being. Considering the nature of consumer preference for seemingly distinct types of meditation practices, understanding the underlying mechanisms, benefits, and applications of practice variations is important.

Reference

  • Burke A, Lam CN, Stussman B, et al. The practice of meditation: prevalence and patterns of use among adults in the United States. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine. June 15, 2017. Epub ahead of print.

*A previous analysis showed that the total number of U.S. adults who practiced mantra, mindfulness, or spiritual meditation or used meditation as part of other practices (yoga, tai chi, and qi gong) was almost 18 million.  ​​​​​​​

https://nccih.nih.gov/research/results/spotlight/three-types-of-meditation?nav=govd

Simple Way to Break a Habit

Way to go Judson Brewer, MD, PhD! Jud is the Director of Research at the Center for Mindfulness and Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Medicine at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. Here he shares groundbreaking research on the possible mechanisms of action cultivated through mindfulness practice that help quell cravings of all kinds in his TEDMED talk from November 2015 in Palm Springs, CA.

Talks from the Buddhism and Modernity Symposium

On June 7, 2015, a select group of presenters from the Mindfulness and Compassion Conference at SFSU convened at the Mangalam Research Center in Berkeley to discuss Buddhism and Modernity. I chose to speak on Transcendent wisdom and psychotherapy. Below are videos of all three panels.

Panel 2: The role for the transcendent dimensions of Buddhist practice and teachings in a disenchanted world. Lisa Dale Miller (Psychotherapist), David Lewis (Independent Researcher), Jack Petranker (Mangalam Research Center). My talk begins at 8:22 in the video time sequence.

Panels 1 and 3 featured wonderful commentary on the problematic of modern mindfulness from academics and researchers working in the fields of philosophy, neuroscience and the social sciences.

Panel 1: Buddhist Philosophy and the Perennial Concerns of Western Philosophy
Stephen Jenkins (Humboldt State University), Steven Stanley (Cardiff University), and David Brazier (International Zen Therapy Institute).

 

Panel 3: How Insights from the Fields of Science Studies/History of Science/Continental Thought Might Shed New Light on the Dialogue Between Buddhism and Science. David McMahan (Franklin & Marshall College), Cliff Saron (University of California, Davis), Kin Cheung (Temple University), Geoffrey Samuel (University of Sydney), Linda Heuman (Brown University/John Templeton Fellow)

Shrinkrap Radio examines Effortless Mindfulness

David Van Nuys, Ph.D. invited me to discuss the practical application of Buddhist psychology for his excellent psychology podcast Shrinkrap Radio. I truly enjoyed our conversation and I think you will too. Follow the link below to listen.

http://shrinkrapradio.com/450-effortless-mindfulness-with-lisa-dale-miller-lmft/

Richard Davidson and Thomas Insel discuss the brain, mental health & mindfulness

DV2015

Listen to an edited version of Thomas Insel, Director of the National Institute of Mental Health and Professor Richard Davidson discussing neuronal changes from the use of mindfulness interventions for the treatment of anxiety and depression. This panel took place at DAVOS 2015 and the recording was created by Mike Hanley, the Director of Communications, Digital Content and Editing at the World Economic Forum.
No hype, just great information direct from the source.

Listen here: http://www.awakenedpresence.com/sounds/Davos2015RDTI.mp3