Meditation has major emotions
and physical benefits
Loneliness can lead to depression and other illnesses, a problem that effecting millions of Americans, especially the elderly.

Researchers at UCLA have found a new medicine to combat loneliness; one with no known side-effects – meditation.

In a report published in the latest issue of the journal Brain, Behavior and Immunity, researchers say that one particular form of meditation proved to be beneficial in reducing feelings of loneliness.

The meditation technique, known as mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR), focuses on alleviating pain and on improving the physical and emotional well-being of individuals suffering from a variety of diseases and disorders, including loneliness and depression. The techniques were originated by Jon Kabat-Zinn from the University Of Massachusetts Medical School.

A typical MBSR program consists of one 2 ½ hour session each week, over an eight to ten week period. It is based on Buddhist practice of mindfulness, although MBSR itself is non-religious. According to Steve Cole, a UCLA professor of medicine and psychiatry, and the study’s principal author, the program trains the mind to focus all attention on the present and not dwell in the past or project into the future.

Amazingly, the researchers also found that the meditation technique also reduces inflammatory chemicals which are produced by the body, in particular, C-reactive protein (CRP) and genes regulated by the transcription factor NF-kB.

Inflammation is associated with pain and most chronic diseases including heart disease, infections, dementia, cancer and arthritis.

On the findings, Dr. Cole commented:

"Our work presents the first evidence showing that a psychological intervention that decreases loneliness also reduces pro-inflammatory gene expression. If this is borne out by further research, MBSR could be a valuable tool to improve the quality of life for many elderly."