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Thursday, October 27, 2016
Regular Meditation More Beneficial Than Vacation
As mindfulness meditation and yoga have become mainstream and more extensively studied, growing evidence suggests multiple psychological and physical benefits of these mindfulness exercises, as well as for similar practices like tai chi and qi gong.
Systematic reviews and meta-analyses analyzing hundreds of research studies suggest that mindfulness-based interventions help decrease anxiety, depression, stress, and pain, and help improve general health, mental health, and quality of life. These practices also appear to reduce inflammation and increase immune response.
You say vacation, I say meditation…
As much as this intuitively makes sense, I’ve often wondered if simple rest and relaxation could be just as good for you. The few studies conducted suggest that vacation does result in real, albeit temporary, positive effects on health and well-being.
So when the editors at Harvard Health Publications suggested I take a look at a recent study comparing a mindfulness meditation and yoga retreat to regular vacation in terms of mental health as well as physical health outcomes, I agreed. This is interesting stuff.
The study was conducted at a resort in Southern California with 91 female volunteers who had no major health problems, were not pregnant, nor taking hormones or antidepressants. The mindfulness intervention was an established meditation and yoga retreat consisting of 12 hours of meditation, nine hours of yoga, and self-reflective exercises over a week. The participants were divided into three groups of about 30 each: experienced meditators, women who had never meditated, and a group who simply “went on vacation.” The 30 “vacation participants” listened to health lectures and then did fun outdoor things for a week (MORE)