Those who practice meditation are aware of the benefits to levels of anxiety and stress. A study at ‘The Jefferson-Myrna Brind Center of Integrative Medicine’ has taken it a step further by combining guided meditation and art therapy (MBSR – Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction) in a scientific study of the effects on women with breast cancer. They then measured the effects of the therapy on the cerebral blood flow of the participants.
Dr. Damiel Monti (Director of the institute) said “This type of expressive art and meditation program has never before been studied for physiological impact and the correlation of that impact to improvements in stress and anxiety.”
The participants took part in an eight week programme which included guided meditation, walking meditation, meditation at home, and various art therapy groups which focused on aspects of their lives and self-expression.
The effect of the programme was that the participants experienced significantly reduced stress and anxiety, showing an increasing in cerebral blood flow in areas of the brain that perceive emotions, experience and regulate stress, and the brain’s reward system.
“With the sample size enlarged, perhaps we can extrapolate these results to other disease populations and gain a fuller understanding of the physiological mechanisms by which mindfulness practices confer psychological benefits,” says Monti.
Full details of the study are available here.