Buddhism beats pain
Practices derived from Buddhist meditation show real effectiveness for certain health problems. Specific types of ‘mindfulness practices’ including Zen meditation have research-proven benefits for patients with certain physical and mental health problems, according to a report in the Journal of Psychiatric Practice.
"An extensive review of therapies that include meditation as a key component - referred to as mindfulness-based practices - shows convincing evidence that such interventions are effective in the treatment of psychiatric symptoms and pain," according to Dr William R. Marchand of the George E. Wahlen Veterans Affairs Medical Center and the University of Utah in Salt Lake City.
The review focused on three techniques:
* Zen meditation, a Buddhist spiritual practice that involves developing mindfulness by meditation, typically focusing on awareness of breathing patterns.
* Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR), a secular method of using Buddhist mindfulness, combining meditation with yoga and coping strategies.
* Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT), which combines MBSR with cognitive therapy (for example, recognising and disengaging from negative thoughts) to prevent depression.
Dr Marchand found evidence that MBSR and MBCT have ‘broad-spectrum’ effects against depression and anxiety and can also decrease general psychological distress. Research data also supported the effectiveness of MBSR to reduce stress and promote general psychological health. There was also evidence that Zen meditation and MBSR were useful adjunctive treatments for pain management.
“These mindfulness practices show considerable promise and the available evidence indicates their use is currently warranted in a variety of clinical situations,” Marchand concludes.