More evidence for meditation

Meditation may help with anxiety, depression and pain,” by Andrew M. Seaman, reporting on a review of 47 randomized research trials that used mindfulness techniques to treat conditions including anxiety, pain, or depression recently published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.

Harvard’s Dr. Allan Goroll, who wrote an editorial accompanying publication of the study, noted how orientation governs behavior, often despite data:

The analysis is an example of an area of much-needed scientific study, because many people make treatment decisions based on beliefs – not data.

“That is particularly the case with alternative and complimentary approaches to treating medical problems,” he said. “It ranges from taking vitamins to undergoing particular procedures for which the scientific evidence is very slim but people’s beliefs are very great.”

The lead researcher, Dr. Madhav Goyal of Johns Hopkins, cautioned that the purpose of meditation is not so much to cure specific disorders but to improve quality of life in general:

Goyal said people should remember that meditation was not conceived to treat any particular health problem.

“Rather, it is a path we travel on to increase our awareness and gain insight into our lives,” he wrote. “The best reason to meditate is to gain this insight. Improvements in health conditions are really a side benefit, and it’s best to think of them that way.”

“Orientation,” as Boyd often insisted, “is the Schwerpunkt.” Always do what improves orientation and you can’t go far wrong, at least not for very long. Meditation is a powerful technique to help you do this, and I’ve long thought it should be a part of the curriculum in military leadership and civilian MBA programs.

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