Subjective Effects of Meditation

My recent dive into the research of the effects of meditation uncovered a ton of information.  I will be posting my findings in a series of three posts.   To help with clarification I will divide my research findings into three categories (one category per post); subjective effects of meditation, physiological effects of meditation, and neurophysiological effects of meditation.

Part 1 of 3 Post Series: Subjective Effects of Meditation

Early studies of meditation focused on subjective evidence, but as technology has improved objective evidence has been uncovered that corroborates the subjective findings.  Subjective evidence was common among different studies and was often either determined through self-reports or peripheral findings during neuroimaging studies.  Meditation affected the body through deeper physical relaxation and significant stress relief.  Cognitive and psychological effects included; increased concentration, improved self-control and overall enhanced psycho-emotional balance.  Emotional effects included; increased positive mood, emotional stability and resilience to stress and negative life events. (Grimm, 2007; Saeed, 2010; Toneatto, 2007)  In general meditators where found to have “developed more mature defense and coping strategies characterized by greater maturity and tolerance of common stressors” (Chiesa-vm, 2010).

  1. Chisea, A. (2010). Vipassana meditation: systematic review of current evidence. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 16(1), 7-46.
  2. Grimm, K.G., Diebold, M.M. (2007). Complementary and alternative medicine and integrative medicine in practice. In Rakel R.E. (Ed.), Textbook of Family Medicine (7th ed.) (16).
  3. Saeed, S.A., Antonacci D.J., Bloch, R.M. (2010). Exercise, yoga, and meditation for depressive and anxiety disorders. American Family Physician, 81, 981 -986.
  4. Toneatto, T., Nguyen, L. (2007). Does mindfulness meditation improve anxiety and mood symptoms? A review of the controlled research. Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 52, 260-266.
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Published in: on May 9, 2011 at 4:45 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Lexical Criterion?

I am currently studying for my last final (at least in 2011).  I have a huge stack of flashcards that I have made to try and learn just the terminology.  Well, out of 58 terms, there are 12 that I thought might make my yogi friends smile.  So here it goes, a dozen fun words.

comic compliments of http://www.nataliedee.com


  1. Organismic Valuing Process – The internal signal that tells whether self-actualization is occurring.
  2. Transcendent Self-actualizers – People whose actualization goes beyond the self to become more universal.
  3. Constructive Alternativism – The idea that any event can be construed in many ways.
  4. Defensive Reappraisal – The process of re-defining a threat out of existence.
  5. Actual Self – One’s self as one presently views it (I am not sure this one is very accurate?)
  6. Lexical Criterion – An index of the importance of a personality trait from the number of words that refers to it.
  7. Actualization – The tendency to grow in ways that maintain or enhance the self.
  8. Self-handicapping – Creating situations that make it hard to succeed, thus enabling avoidance of self-blame for failure.
  9. Existential Psychology – The view that people are responsible for investing their lives with meaning.
  10. Existential Guilt – A sense of guilt over failing to fulfill all of one’s potential. (Could we have existential guilt without existential psychology?)
  11. Dasein – “Being in the World”, the totality of one’s autonomous personal existence.
  12. Need – An unsatisfactory internal condition that motivates behavior.

Can anyone guess what class this final is in?  Call me a geek if you like, but I love rolling these words around in my head.


Published in: on May 6, 2011 at 5:27 am  Leave a Comment  
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Rave Rather than Rant!

Yesterday a fellow yogi brought to light that Don Nelson on Channel 6 has a segment where people can call and rant about whatever has been bugging them.  Well we believe it should be Rave rather than Rant! Lotus, the fellow yogi, called in and raved instead of ranted….and her rave was on the news last night. If you would like to join this positive movement and help encourage people to be mindful of the positive in their lives call 381-6666 and RAVE!!
Thank you Lotus for starting the RAVE WAVE!

Raving about the natural beauty of Idaho.

Published in: on May 5, 2011 at 3:47 pm  Leave a Comment  

Meditation, Anatomy & Pranayama Oh My!

Below I have listed my current favorite free stuff online:

  1. Free audio downloads for a little meditation guidance –   http://yogapsychologymagazine.com/practices.html
  2. The Anatomic Pose Viewer is so much fun & educational – http://www.bandhayoga.com/flyarounds.html
  3. Try the pranayama demo (at the bottom of the page at this link) –  http://www.saagara.com/yoga

Me excited!

Published in: on May 4, 2011 at 5:16 pm  Leave a Comment  
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What is Meditation?

Please, remember that I do not claim to be an expert.  I am only an ongoing student and reporting on my observations and interpretations of my literature reviews.  I look forward to any comments, ideas or recommendations you may have.

Meditation is defined differently by most people.  First let us look at what some of the renowned meditation masters have to say.    One eloquent definition of meditation by Pema Chodron states, “…by learning to peacefully abide in sitting meditation: (we are) creating the space for our garden to grow. Then we can cultivate qualities that will allow us to live our lives in full bloom.” (Mipham, 2003, p. 7)   To Patanjuli, an ancient yogic sage, meditation was simply the cessation of the fluctuations of the mind.  A more modern take may be, Mary NurrieStearn’s (LCSW, RYT) definition, “…taking some time to sit; focus your attention on your breath, mantra or stillness; and witness your thoughts.” (NurrieStearns , 2010, p. 176)

My definition after reading uncountable definitions is:  meditation is the deliberate act of quieting the mind in order to access a state of consciousness that is serene and peaceful.  As we review the literature on meditation research, in following posts, it is important to keep in mind that due to the many ways of defining meditation and “the absence of a validated scientific model for practice”, performing statistically rigid research is difficult. (Chiesa-zm, 2010, p. 590)

Also adding to some of the ambivalence, is the fact that there are so many techniques for meditation.  Usually techniques revolve around finding a way to be physically comfortable, keeping a high quality of breathe, and finding as much mental stillness as possible. Some people never sit or find physical stillness during meditation, but it is commonly believed that the stiller the body the greater ease with which one will find mental stillness. Some of the more common meditation techniques include; moving mindfulness, rhythmic movement, sound vibrations, withdrawal of the senses, single mental focus and non-judgmental thought detachment.

Let us briefly look at these techniques.  Walking, hiking, yoga asana (physical postures) and other deep awareness movement can be categorized as moving mindfulness. Rhythmic movement refers to swaying of the body, tapping of the fingers or muscle tension and release.  The incorporation of sound vibrations into meditation happens during chanting, mantra repetition, kirtan, singing or the use of recorded sound.  Withdrawal of the senses is any technique that includes closing of the eyes, plugging of the ears or inhibition of any of the senses.  A single mental focus most often incorporates focus on a scent, candle flame, the breath, or a mantra. A mantra can refer to a single word, sound or series of words or sounds that have significant meaning to an individual.  Lastly, thought detachment, can refer to non-judgmental thought labeling and non-identification with thought or emotions.  All of the above techniques can be used alone or in conjunction with each other.

Various schools of meditation practice make use of a number of techniques and often provide guidelines for use of particular techniques to provide for specific outcomes. These specific outcomes could be used prescriptively for different pathologies or illnesses.  “Meditation techniques with emphasis on concentrative practices, for example, may be more suitable for pathologies with attention problems, while meditation techniques that emphasize emotional stress reduction may be more efficient in affective pathologies.” (Rubia, 2009, p. 9)

Resources:

  1. Chiesa A., Serretti, A. (2010). A systematic review of neurobiological and clinical features of mindfulness meditations. Psychological Medicine, 40, 1239-1252.
  2. Mipham, S. (2003). Turning the Mind Into an Ally. New York, New York: Riverhead Books.
  3. NurrieStearns, M., NurrieStearns, R. (2010). Yoga for Anxiety. Oakland, California: New Harbinger Publications, Inc.
  4. Rubia, K. (2009). The neurobiology of meditation and its clinical effectiveness in psychiatric disorders. Biological Psychology, 82(1), 1-11.
Published in: on May 2, 2011 at 5:19 pm  Leave a Comment  
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