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Cover page of the Journal of Health Sciences
Year : 2021  |  Volume : 14  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 181-187

Effectiveness of meditation programs in empirically reducing stress and amplifying cognitive function, thus boosting individual health status: A narrative overview

Department of Physiology, RUHS College of Medical Sciences, Jaipur, Rajasthan, India

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Reshu Gupta
Department of Physiology, RUHS College of Medical Sciences, Jaipur, Rajasthan
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/kleuhsj.kleuhsj_108_20

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Meditation is increasingly being used to promote general health, to treat stress and stress-related conditions, and is also beginning to find its feet in cognitive therapeutics. This article intends to evaluate its impacts on stress and cognitive function, aiming to augment the understanding of the mechanisms and subsequent implications for individual health. A multistep approach was used for the purpose of selection of articles, which was based on shortlisting of titles, then abstracts and further full texts. Subject to selection criteria, keywords “Meditation,” “stress,” “cognition,” “reducing,” “health,” and “effectiveness” were used to search online databases and conduct hand searches. The results indicated a stress-lowering effect by neural, endocrine, and humoral changes, evidenced by multiple parameters such as heart rate variability, blood pressure, galvanic skin response, salivary cortisol, and cytokines, and a psychological improvement in emotional regulation and perseverative cognition, with clinical implications in daily life and clinical settings such as hypertension, cancer stress, chronic pain, posttraumatic stress disorder, glaucoma, and anxiety disorders. The positive effect on cognition occurs through mechanisms such as altered regional blood flow, brain remodeling, functionally altered connections, and reduced emotional vulnerability. Increased secondary organization of thoughts is noted with implications in student settings, work output, neurodegenerative disorders, learning disorders, and attention deficit disorders. Meditation thus potentially offers a modality which could boost all aspects of health in a cost-effective, low time-consuming manner to a wide spectrum of individuals. While the evidence thus far is constructive, further studies with larger samples, stronger study designs, and offering more conclusive evidence are required.

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