The Scientific Research of Mindfulness
Over the past few decades there have been numerous studies on the benefits of the meditative state of mind in contributing to holistic health and well being.
One of the first scientists to do so was Dr Herbert Benson, a professor at Harvard’s Medical School. He developed understanding of the ‘relaxation response’ (1975), a mechanism of the body that can neutralise the ‘fight or flight’ response to stressful situations. He found that the ‘relaxation response’ could be triggered by meditation and that when this occurs it causes the following positive physiological changes. It reduces the body’s heart and breathing rates, blood pressure and muscle tension. At the same time alpha waves (the normal brainwaves of a person who is awake but relaxed) in the brain increase. He was able to show that many traditional meditation techniques trigger a measurable relaxation response and provided evidence of the health benefits of regular meditation practise such as stress management and reducing high blood pressure.