Monday, September 2, 2013

Health Care Profession Is Increasingly Adopting Meditation

Meditation is not just for new-agey folks sitting in the lotus position chanting "om." Increasingly, mainstream medicine is waking up to the healing powers of daily meditation, with hospitals opening integrative medicine programs that use mindful and transcendental meditation and guided imagery, alongside traditional treatments. Research shows that meditation reduces stress, blood pressure and pain, improves attention span and the ability to focus and may even stimulate new brain cell growth. We checked with some local doctors to see why they've become big proponents of meditation.

What is meditation exactly?

There are dozens of types of meditation, from the Buddhist's Zazen to guided imagery, but all help the mind to quiet down and heart rates to slow down. Dr. Jodie Katz, a family doctor in Ridgewood with Valley Medical Group, teaches Mindfulness Based Stressed Reduction, the most well-known and most studied. Mindful meditation has no religious affiliation. In her program, the breath is used as a guide to focus on the moment. Beginners are taught to focus on the sensation of breathing. When the mind wanders off, they are asked to simply notice where their thoughts have gone to, let go of those thoughts and bring attention back to the breath. Eventually, students work their way up to 45 minutes.

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