A media release from the University of Sydney last week cites "Meditation linked to better wellbeing and health, including mental health".
The University of Sydney study found that long-term meditators (with a minimum of two years regular practice) were more than 10% better off than the general population with regards to mental health.
Dr Ramesh Manocha, Senior Lecturer in the Discipline of Psychiatry, Sydney Medical School led the research, a world-first health quality-of-life survey of long-term meditators. The study uses the same measurement instruments as the one used by the federal government’s National Health and Wellbeing Survey and followed more than 350 people from across Australia.
"We focused on the definition of meditation as mental silence and surveyed practitioners of Sahaja Yoga meditation who practise a form of meditation aimed at achieving this state rather than relaxation or mindfulness methods that are usually the focus of other forms," Dr Manocha said.
"Most markedly there was a robust relationship between the frequency of experiencing mental silence and better mental health. This definition is based on it being the form of meditation practised for centuries."
The meditators were asked how often they experienced 'mental silence' for more than a few minutes at any one time. Fifty-two percent of respondents said that they experienced mental silence "several times per day or more" while 32 percent were experiencing it "once or twice per day".
"Our analysis showed very little relationship at all between how often the person who meditated physically sat down to meditate and mental health scores. However the relationship was clearly apparent in relation to how often they experienced the state of mental silence.
"The health advantage appears to be connected to this aspect more than any other feature of the meditation lifestyle. In other words it is quality over quantity".
"While we did expect that there would be some differences between the meditators and the general population we didn't expect the findings to be so pronounced".
"This is one of the first studies to assess the long term health impacts of meditation on health and wellbeing. When we take the evidence of this study, along with the results of our other clinical trials, it makes a strong case for the use of meditation as a primary prevention strategy, especially in mental health," Dr Manocha said.
Wonderful to have some home-grown research to share .. we previously noted a work stress conducted by Dr Manocha back in July 2011. In that study, noted as the largest study of its kind in the world, clinical trials found that meditation riggered changes in electrical activity of the brain, delivering measurable improvements in mind and body.
"What authentic techniques should do is show you how to widen space between thoughts until the space is so large you have no thoughts whatsoever in that moment".