Wednesday, 15 January 2014

#475 Mindfulness Research - Not So Simple

     The therapeutic alliance hangs on the patient's firm belief in the healer's intention & ability to heal and that her method is reasonable & effective. The ideal healer's every thought, word & action intentionally nurtures this relationship.
     This critical psychosocial component of all healing modalities should be intentionally maximized, not eliminated. Mindfulness can be seen as a healing modality - a path out of suffering towards wholeness. From a less medical and more developmental point of view, mindfulness can be seen as a way of consciously nurturing the maturation of one's own consciousness.
     Many researchers would like to use a scientific / medical model for studying mindfulness. Yet, unlike drugs & surgeries, which have significant "material" components, mindfulness has almost none. The "active ingredient" of mindfulness CANNOT be reduced to some molecule. It is NOT a simple cause & effect (nor is anything that simple in medicine). The actual process of engaging with mindfulness practices IS what brings about transformation & healing. So the advice below may not apply at all to mindfulness research.

     "Observational studies have a high risk of bias owing to problems such as self-selection of interventions (people who believe in the benefits of meditation or who have prior experience with meditation are more likely to enroll in a meditation program & report that they benefited from one) & use of outcome measures that can be easily biased by participants’ beliefs in the benefits of meditation. Clinicians need to know whether meditation training has beneficial effects beyond self-selection biases & the nonspecific effects of time, attention & expectations for improvement."

       Goyal M et al. Meditation Programs for Psychological Stress and Well-being. A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. JAMA Intern Med. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2013.13018 Published online January 6, 2014.

Mystical Boat by Odilon Redon

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