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

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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

Clair Brown’s Vision of Buddhist Economics

Clair Brown, an economist at UC Berkeley and a practicing Buddhist, has developed a holistic economic approach, where the economy delivers a high quality of life in a sustainable world. Buddhist economics integrates sustainability, equity, and compassion. While teaching her sophomore seminar at UC Berkeley, Professor Brown learned, “You don’t have to be a Buddhist to embrace a Buddhist approach to economics. You need only share the Dalai Lama’s belief that human nature is gentle and compassionate and embrace the idea that economics can be a force for good, one that goes beyond self-centered materialism.” Clair is one of the most humble, loving people I have ever met. Her new book, Buddhist Economics is a treasure.

The Ultimate Rx

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You can now download for free on Academia.edu The Ultimate Rx: Cutting through the delusion of self-cherishing, the chapter I authored for the newly published Handbook of Mindfulness: Culture, Context and Social Engagement.

Chapter Abstract:
Western and Buddhist psychologies acknowledge the significant role distorted self-narratives play in poor mental health. But these two disciplines hold divergent views on the utility of ‘cherishing the self’. Western psychology claims high self-esteem is a requirement for self-confidence, happiness, and success. Buddhist psychology asserts wisdom and compassion are the forerunners of genuine confidence and sustainable personal and collective well-being. It further states that endemic self-cherishing—the habitual reification of distorted hyper-egoic self-narratives—is a primary source of mental and emotional affliction. Yet, Buddhist psychology also affirms the innate capacity of all human beings to end the mental suffering of self-cherishing. This chapter explicates Western and Buddhist psychological models of self, Buddhist theories of not-self and conventional and ultimate self-cherishing, and outlines a somatopsychotherapeutic clinical approach for helping individuals struggling with depressive, anxious, trauma-related symptoms and addictions, to recognize self-cherishing mentation and lessen its deleterious effects.

Watch the Power and Care conference Talks

HHDL
Watch the Mind and Life Power and Care Conference taking place in Brussels.
The schedule of talks (Brussels Timezone) for Saturday and Sunday is:
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 10th, 2016
Session 3: Perspectives from spiritual and religious traditions
Time: 9:30-11:30am
Religious and spiritual institutions are influential forces that promote peace and compassion and are concerned with the cultivation of an ethical existence. Yet at the same time they wield vast power that has often been used for divisive and destructive purposes and are profoundly implicated in the economics and government of societies, past and present. How can the world’s religions transform themselves and channel their immense power in order to remain viable agents of positive change?Speakers: H.H. the Dalai Lama; Thupten Jinpa, Ph.D. (interpreter); Roshi Joan Halifax, Ph.D. (moderator); Pauline Tangiora, J.P., Q.S.O., Q.S.M.; Matthieu Ricard, Ph.D.; Rabbi Awraham Soetendorp; Brother Thierry-Marie Courau, o.p.; Alaa Murabit, M.D.

Session 4: Perspectives from economics and society
Time: 1:00-3:00pm
Politics and economics are the quintessential arenas for the expression of power in the social realm. Since political-economic reasoning dominates our social and cultural lives how can motivations belonging to the “care constellation” be introduced into economic thinking and therefore into the societal structures that regulate human relations? Indeed, there are other models and behaviors that can create equilibrium between these elements that determine so much of our daily existence.

Speakers: H.H. the Dalai Lama; Thupten Jinpa, Ph.D. (interpreter); Dr Uwe Jean Heuser (moderator); Prof. Dennis James Snower, Ph.D.; Prof. Sir Paul Collier; Dr Vandana Shiva; Theo Sowa; Jody Williams

SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 11th, 2016
Session 5: Personal commitment and global responsibility
Time: 9:30-11:30am
The issue of “empowerment” as a component of personal and collective engagement, and the concept of care as an expression of responsibility for our planet and its civilizations in times of strife, forced migration and homelessness, and distress at the individual and societal levels, will provide the focus for our final session. Power and care are two primary elements that may not, finally, be opposed but rather coexist as a condition of dynamic and constructive equilibrium.

Speakers: H.H. the Dalai Lama; Thupten Jinpa, Ph.D. (interpreter); Theo Sowa (moderator); Olafur Eliasson; Dr Scilla Elworthy; Frédéric Laloux; Prof. Dr Tania Singer

Deluded and Undeluded Mind: Two new dharma talks

dharmatalkslogo2Listen to two dharma talks I recently delivered on Delusion and Non-delusion. 

Delusion and Deluded Mind
This first talk covers the Buddhist psychological description of how delusion manifests in human perception and its effects on collective and personal human suffering.

Download mp3               iTunes podcast

Non-delusion and Undeluded Mind
This second talk covers the Buddhist psychological description of how non-delusion manifests in human perception and practical steps for cultivating non-delusion in daily life.

Download mp3                 iTunes podcast