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Meditation Reduces Stress, Increases Compassion

October 22, 2010
If you’re prone to feeling stressed, researchers say a 1,000-year-old Tibetan Buddhist meditation practice can hold the key for unlocking inner calm—and increasing your body’s immune capacities.
Via an article on CNN.com:
…Scientists are looking at how an ancient Tibetan Buddhist meditation practice called Lojong may help reduce stress itself, as well as improve the immune system’s response to stress, said Dr. Charles Raison, principal investigator of the study at Emory and CNNHealth mental health expert. Raison planned to present preliminary results of the study to the Dalai Lama, who attended the Compassion Meditation Conference on Monday.

“Lojong” means “mind training,” and this specific practice is aimed at making a person more compassionate toward others, including friends and enemies. This is the type of meditation that the Dalai Lama primarily practices, Raison said.

Participants are taught to look at all people equally as being valuable and important, and then attempt to develop strong feelings of compassion. They first examine compassion toward people they already care about, then toward people about whom they feel neutral, and then finally enemies. “In its purest form, it’s a way of practicing, of learning to become very thankful for your enemies because they help teach patience and caring,” Raison said.

Raison and Geshe Lobsang Tenzin Negi, a lecturer in Emory’s religion department, have been working on methods of testing the effects of this meditation practice on the human body. They have preliminary results from a group of Emory University students as well as a more recent study on teenagers in foster care in Georgia. In both groups, researchers found that the more a person practices, the more stress-reduction benefits he or she receives. It appears that just going to the six or eight weeks of classes is not enough, however; those who showed the best outcomes had meditated on their own time as well, Raison said. The available data suggest that you can get stress-related benefits from meditating three to four times a week, he said.

“It’s not necessarily something that would require a complete change of life. You don’t have to go off and go to a monastery,” he said.
Interested in trying meditation in a group setting? Please join us at Yen Yoga’s free weekly guided meditation class on Sundays at 9 a.m. For more on Lojong, check out the full article on CNN.com, or click on over to a compassion meditation tutorial on Oprah.com.
Photo from CNN.com
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