Zen Meditation Promoted by UK Mental Health Services

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Zen Meditation Promoted by UK Mental Health Services

Postby Mossling on January 2nd, 2011, 6:23 am 

Antidepressant Monotherapy vs Sequential Pharmacotherapy and Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy, or Placebo, for Relapse Prophylaxis in Recurrent Depression
Zindel V. Segal, PhD; Peter Bieling, PhD; Trevor Young, MD; Glenda MacQueen, MD; Robert Cooke, MD; Lawrence Martin, MD; Richard Bloch, MA; Robert D. Levitan, MD

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2010;67(12):1256-1264

"Conclusions For depressed patients achieving stable or unstable clinical remission, MBCT offers protection against relapse/recurrence on a par with that of maintenance antidepressant pharmacotherapy. Our data also highlight the importance of maintaining at least 1 long-term active treatment in unstable remitters."


Stars' meditation technique gains mental health experts' approval
The Observer, Sunday 2 January 2011
NHS departments are now offering the Buddhism-inspired method of 'mindfulness meditation' which is favoured by celebrities such as Goldie Hawn

"Although initially regarded with scepticism by mainstream psychologists, the practice has gained respectability thanks to research indicating its clinical effectiveness. A new study in the American journal Archives of General Psychiatry found that the mindfulness technique was as effective as the use of anti-depressants among a controlled group in remission from major depression.

A study by researchers in Wales, Toronto and Cambridge found that in cases of recurring depression it reduced the risk of relapse by 50%. As a result, the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (Nice) adopted it in its guidelines as a recommended intervention in cases of chronic depression. Recent studies have shown that the technique can have other significant benefits, including boosting the immune system and encouraging left-field brain activity – the side most associated with feelings of wellbeing."


Is this going to have some serious implications for people in the West. I mean, effectively they will be practicing like Buddhists did in the ancient East, only just stripped of un-necessary dogma, ritual, and tradition.
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Re: Zen Meditation Promoted by UK Mental Health Services

Postby newyear on January 6th, 2011, 5:28 pm 

I wrote a post on meditation some four years ago here. The benefits of meditation are positive for most people. It is an instrument in harnessing the control of one's mind. All mainstream religions use meditation in one form or another, not just buddhists. There is a close connection between spirituality and meditation. That is, the human being seems to have a 'door' in the mind in which the ideas that are associated with what can be termed spirituality can open. It is a via to control one's mind, instead of letting the mind have its own free will. This is why some of the patients affected by an ill function of the mind will find meditation a help and a solution.
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Re: Zen Meditation Promoted by UK Mental Health Services

Postby Fuqin on January 6th, 2011, 6:19 pm 

Yep I would concur that meditation, and the many methods of’ do have positive effects , personally speaking, my mind can run an absolute riot and that creates huge anxiety in me , something I use to self-medicate with alcohol, which then became depression and a dangerous life style cycle began, ‘meditation’ really brakes these cycles in there instances, so long as you can recognize the moment the anxiety is triggered , meditation seems at least for me to expose the absurdity of some of my own thinking ,I say absurdity because sometimes the root of some of my most damaging thoughts has been largely a self-perpetuated lie or illusion. It’s interesting how fragile the mind is really .
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Re: Zen Meditation Promoted by UK Mental Health Services

Postby Mossling on January 6th, 2011, 9:08 pm 

Does anyone think that the new "gained respectability" meditation has within the West - especially within the psychiatric community - will have deeper implications for Western society as a whole?

Here in China I see people meditating in the parks in various ways very early in the morning. I am aware that this is likely due to religious traditions which survived the Cultural Revolution, but I also see the associated behaviours within the culture as a whole - an idea about the power of 'mindfulness' - living in the moment - spontaneous expression of the heart, etc.

I can't help but think that embedding this apparently powerful practice - free of technology or drugs - within UK culture is going to cause cosmological ripples that will clash with, or even enhance, certain existing religious perspectives, social philosophies, etc.
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Re: Zen Meditation Promoted by UK Mental Health Services

Postby Fuqin on January 6th, 2011, 11:37 pm 

Here in China I see people meditating in the parks in various ways very early in the morning
‘Tai chi’ isn’t a religious practice it’s a practice of meditation derived from martial arts you’ll note that in the evenings they practice ballroom dancing in the parks also , but my personal opinion is it wont have much impact on anything in the west at all save maybe that more GPs will make a few more referrals’ to yoga centers and such the like, and that perhaps meditation programs of a limited variety may become eligible for public health care rebates, hell my private health insurance entitles me to discounts on yoga classes now , I think it’s a case were word of mouth about the benefits of meditation has usurped the stamp of approval by medical science anyway, so many in the west practice this stuff already , however it’s not a fix all , drugs and psychoanalysis are still necessary.
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Re: Zen Meditation Promoted by UK Mental Health Services

Postby Mossling on January 7th, 2011, 12:39 am 

Fuqin wrote:‘Tai chi’ isn’t a religious practice it’s a practice of meditation derived from martial arts you’ll note that in the evenings they practice ballroom dancing in the parks also

I was talking more about seated meditation and standing qigong.

Fuqin wrote:I think it’s a case were word of mouth about the benefits of meditation has usurped the stamp of approval by medical science

That's very interesting - you're in the US, right?

It seems yoga has a more physical stretching/muscle building, religious and magical (kundalini, etc.) dimension to it than the secular MBCT meditation technique. Yoga has been given much more of a 'keep fit/slim' image in the media with all these stars making videos, etc.

Fuqin wrote:it’s not a fix all , drugs and psychoanalysis are still necessary.

Agreed - in the apparently more severe cases.
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Re: Zen Meditation Promoted by UK Mental Health Services

Postby Fuqin on January 7th, 2011, 1:07 am 

That's very interesting - you're in the US, right?

No the land of OZ (Australia) I’m an Adaliaren ,my daughters are Chinese [adopted] Note my handle is fuqin pinyin for father
It seems yoga has a more physical stretching/muscle building, religious and magical (kundalini, etc.) dimension to it than the secular MBCT meditation technique. Yoga has been given much more of a 'keep fit/slim' image in the media with all these stars making videos, etc.

Yes granted , I don’t practice yoga however, my meditation is more Zen like as far as being in a place more akin to the nirvana or nothingness or even just breathing and just allowing negativity to find itself in the silly room of my mind,
ever lost something important say a passport or walet , car keys etc I do all the time I’m a bit vague and it used to stress me out , something from Zen helped me , the mind is like a mussel if I forget what I’m trying to remember the brain relaxes and 99.9% of the time , bingo! There it is! Its quiet amusing how well it works acctualy.
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Re: Zen Meditation Promoted by UK Mental Health Services

Postby Mossling on January 7th, 2011, 2:52 am 

fuqin wrote:if I forget what I’m trying to remember the brain relaxes and 99.9% of the time , bingo! There it is! Its quiet amusing how well it works acctualy.

Ha, great. It's always interesting to hear how people discover meditation.

I have a taichi teacher in th UK who was a professional footballer who suffered a sever knee injury which ruined his career. Not long after that he began experiencing chronic fatigue - he could barely get himself out of a chair. He tried all kinds of solutions, and when he came across meditative qigong, within 5 minutes of assuming the position, he said he could feel the difference inside his body - the energy returning. Now he is a formidable martial artist with a knee repaired by taichi and the self-massage and calisthenics that goes with it. What appeared to be misfortune for him turned out to be a gift - providing him with excellent health into his present older age.
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Re: Zen Meditation Promoted by UK Mental Health Services

Postby Fuqin on January 7th, 2011, 3:15 am 

Yes I think there is some research into how much of a roll the mind contributes to the otherwise presupposed autonomic reactions or responses of the body to the environment, I can personally vouch for mind working mind health and I think there is a tenuous link between that (mind)and body health , in essence if your whole and happy one can expect the best performance physically ( given the circumstances) that one could achieve , after all the placebo effect is not without validity , and this speaks loudly about the link between perception and heath, it’s not mind over matter , but if body and mind being both matter contained within one system are treated as one treats any system ,then they really should have a certain influence upon one another IMHO.
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Re: Zen Meditation Promoted by UK Mental Health Services

Postby newyear on January 7th, 2011, 11:10 am 

Mossling wrote:Does anyone think that the new "gained respectability" meditation has within the West - especially within the psychiatric community - will have deeper implications for Western society as a whole?


Fugin has answered you well. The interest in meditation is quite random. You are probably too young to remember, or know about, that the beatles in their Indian guru period were all for meditation, and probably many took this up, together with drugs (lsd and pot), but its impact on society was not long, and probably did more harm to the positive ideas of meditation than anything else. So, I don't see any deeper implications than the xbox has on society, and certainly no religious ones, if this was your worry.
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Re: Zen Meditation Promoted by UK Mental Health Services

Postby Mossling on January 7th, 2011, 11:37 am 

Hmm endorsement by psychiatrists vs the Beatles' interests and Xbox.... I think the first one would be taken more seriously and has more scientific grounding. After all, the depressed people in the ancient East who embedded meditative practices deep within their culture would have been more likely to seek the equivalents of psychiatrists (Buddhist monks et al), rather than the equivalents of the Beatles or the Xbox, don't you think?
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Re: Zen Meditation Promoted by UK Mental Health Services

Postby newyear on January 7th, 2011, 1:48 pm 

Mossling, if you are talking about meditation and its impact on society, then I would put the Beatles before a handful of psychiatrists. I am not sure if all psychiatrists would be willing to recommend meditation to their patients, and on the other hand, it could just be a ploy by NICE to lower health care costs, couldn't it?
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Re: Zen Meditation Promoted by UK Mental Health Services

Postby neuro on January 7th, 2011, 6:10 pm 

I quite don't understand why the endorsement of meditation practices by psychiatrists should necessarily be a disguised maneuver with some hidden naughty aim.

Although major psychiatric illnesses are accompanied by clear-cut impairments in neurotransmitter systems and brain dysfunctions (measurable e.g. by functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging), the connection between neurobiological and psychological aspects is two-way. Alterations (by tumors, inflammation, drugs) of neuronal functions may determine psychological impairments, but purely psychological events can in turn impair brain functions (you can even induce measurable differences in the brain of mice by raising them in solitude or company, or even in an empty cage rather than a cage rich of colored and multifarious objects to be explored).

The two-way relation presumably is the main reason why anti-depressive therapy does not produce any good result unless: (a) a major depression (BPD) is clinically present - which presumably involves organic alterations - and (b) the drug is assumed regularly for a long period (at least one month). The main problem in major depression is anhedonia, i.e. the incapability of feeling pleasure; anti-depressive medication appears to be able to re-equilibrate the neurotransmitter (mainly serotonin) dysregulation that underlies anhedonia and the emotional flatness typical of major depression. Once such flatness is overcome, gradual re-equilibration of mood is achieved thanks to the normal alternation of pain and pleasure, sadness and joy.

A central role in all this is played by imaginative activity, which may tend to bring about mostly negative, frustrating and stressful thoughts, or recover its ability to recall nice memories as well, evoke pleasurable desires and make positive mental associations and projects.

Meditation, as well as most psychotherapeutic approaches (especially those based on dreaming, wake-dreaming and imagination) are able to re-educate the subject imaginative activity - or at least to preserve it from recurring into depression, once pharmacological therapy has succeeded.

So I would not dismiss so easily meditation techniques as something non-scientific, and any interest by the scientific world as somewhat mischievous...
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Re: Zen Meditation Promoted by UK Mental Health Services

Postby Paralith on January 7th, 2011, 6:56 pm 

I agree with neuro. I don't find the benefits of meditation to be un-scientific at all. And, it was recently recommended to me by a practicing therapist. Mental perceptions of dangerous and difficult situations cause a physical stress response in your body, which is no doubt harmful for your body and your mind, since the stress response feeds back into your brain and behavior. If meditation can help reduce excessive anxiety and worry about your situation, you will be better for it.
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Re: Zen Meditation Promoted by UK Mental Health Services

Postby Mossling on January 8th, 2011, 12:35 am 

Thanks for contributing neuro & Paralith.

Any thoughts about the implications for the UK in the long-term? Or are you more of the opinion that pop music and Xbox belittle the "gain in respectability" meditation has received from the psychiatric community?
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Re: Zen Meditation Promoted by UK Mental Health Services

Postby neuro on January 8th, 2011, 6:47 am 

Mossling wrote:Any thoughts about the implications for the UK in the long-term? Or are you more of the opinion that pop music and Xbox belittle the "gain in respectability" meditation has received from the psychiatric community?

Actually, I am not clear about what you mean.
I do not foresee big social fallouts of official science recognizing the merits of meditation. Actually, this kind of practices get much more diffusion and success because of their halo of originality, novelty, exoticism and thanks to their consistence with current interest in wellbeing, fitness and care of one's own body and mind.

On the other hand, it should be considered that clinical practice in the field of psychiatry and psychotherapy has not just discovered meditation. Therapeutic approaches based on hypnosis, dreaming, wake-dreaming, imagination, meditation, introspection, perception of one's own body, nonverbal and bodily communication, have been around for quite a while.

The point is it is very difficult to collect clinical results in a rigorous controlled way in this field of clinical research, and to set up controlled trials that fulfill the standards of “scientific research”. What you call “gain in respectability” rather is a success in statistically demonstrating something which everybody has long been somehow aware of. The perspective of the psychiatric community has not suddenly changed, and the general feeling in the society is not likely to markedly change because somebody managed in “scientifically demonstrating” something everybody was already convinced of.

My two cents
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Re: Zen Meditation Promoted by UK Mental Health Services

Postby Paralith on January 8th, 2011, 4:26 pm 

I'm not sure how pop music belittles scientific findings related to meditation (unless Britney Spears has recently come out with a song making fun of psychiatrists that I'm not aware of). And I'm no expert in the cultural trends related to the usage of meditation by Westerners, but I'm under the impression that it was previously popular largely due to its association with Asian cultures and philosophies. If you were a fan of those things, meditation was often part of the package. And, perhaps it was not so completely understood by the general public that meditation is simply the practice of calming and clearing one's mind, which as others have already pointed out, is a practice that's actually used by many different religions and cultures. I've recently come to realize that many different behaviors are forms of meditation, in this sense - I've done it before myself and not really realized that's what it was. Once this becomes clear, meditation no longer seems to be some weird fad proponed by japanophiles, but an easy way for you to improve your own mental health. I think the UK and the US would benefit by more people realizing this, and perhaps greater publicity from the science community on the subject will help. But we'll see.
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Re: Zen Meditation Promoted by UK Mental Health Services

Postby Mossling on January 9th, 2011, 6:52 am 

Paralith wrote:Once this becomes clear, meditation no longer seems to be some weird fad proponed by japanophiles, but an easy way for you to improve your own mental health.

Indeed. I myself have attended Soto Zen Buddhist retreats, and I am very happy to show my mother that I am not a religious fanatic/hippy - that I am doing something perfectly healthy, the essence of which is now offically endorsed by the scientific community.

It will be very interesting to see how the technique will be further harnessed by other disciplines such as athletics or education. The article mentioned something about secular Mindfulness techniques being used in schools I think.

What effect will it have on existing religious views, does anyone think?
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Re: Zen Meditation Promoted by UK Mental Health Services

Postby newyear on January 9th, 2011, 6:59 pm 

Mossling wrote:What effect will it have on existing religious views, does anyone think?


What religions are you referring to? As I said, all main stream religions use meditation as a practice. The Catholic religion refer to it in their Catecismo (part 3, 2705 to 2708), you will also find it in the acts of meditation on the Coran.
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Re: Zen Meditation Promoted by UK Mental Health Services

Postby Mossling on January 9th, 2011, 8:04 pm 

newyear wrote:all main stream religions use meditation as a practice

I think other religions use a different type of meditation, though. 'Mindfulness' as a formal practice seems unique to some Buddhist and Taoist schools.

MBCT is called 'Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy' - not 'Meditation Based Cognitive Therapy'.

"Christian meditation is the process of deliberately focusing on specific thoughts (e.g. a biblical scene involving Jesus and the Virgin Mary) and reflecting on their meaning in the context of the love of God.

Christian meditation contrasts with cosmic styles of oriental meditation as radically as the portrayal of God the Father in the Bible contrasts with discussions of Krishna or Brahman in Indian teachings." Wiki: Christian Meditation

"Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) is psychological therapy which blends features of cognitive therapy with mindfulness techniques of Buddhism. MBCT involves accepting thoughts and feelings without judgement" Wiki: MBCT
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