How meditation can help

Meditation as a means of training the mind and heart away from reactivity and toward peace and equanimity can play a major role in responding to this epidemic. It is low cost to the health care provider and enables the individual to self- manage their condition, using other health care interventions as required. For these reasons researchers and policy makers are beginning to discuss meditation and mindfulness as key public health initiatives in the management of pain.

In order for a new paradigm to make its way into the Western scientific mindset, there is a need for a robust evidence base. Over the last 40 years this evidence base has been slowly developing, with an explosion of interest in mindfulness over the last decade. In 2014, the Mindfulness All Party Parliamentary Group (MAPPG) in the UK reviewed the evidence base in preparation for writing the Mindful Nation UK report for publication in 2015 (Mindfulness All Party Parliamentary Group 2015). The first draft recommends:

Mindfulness training is a valuable complement to conventional medical care. It is a form of “participatory medicine” by which the patient is enabled to develop their own understanding of their condition and draw upon their own resources for healing and care, often within peer-to-peer groups. This is a new model of healthcare which it is widely believed will be increasingly significant in the future, as healthcare needs continue to grow. There is good evidence that MBIs [Mindfulness Based Intervention] can help reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety for people living with long-term conditions such as vascular disorders, chronic pain and cancer, and promising evidence is emerging for the helpfulness of MBIs for other long-term physical health conditions.

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