Research on the effects of meditation has focused on understanding both the meditative state as well as characteristics resulting from long-term, regular meditation practice. Understanding these states and traits is of interest because of potential clinical applications and the possibility for better understanding of brain states and function. In particular, this is of interest for understanding mind-body connections and interactions, and how this relationship can be used to promote wellness and health. From a clinical perspective, mind-body approaches including meditation, yoga, and mindfulness-based therapies are potentially valuable clinical interventions. The objective of this study is two-fold; one aim is to elucidate the physiological effects of the meditative state, and a second, closely related aim is to characterize the effects of long-term meditation practice. This involves studying differences between experienced meditators versus nonmeditators, as well as changes that occur during meditation. Participants will include experienced (mean=5+ years) practitioners of Kundalini yoga and age- and gender-matched non-meditator controls. Physiologic data will be recorded during three phases: (i) baseline rest, (ii) meditation (meditators) or sitting quietly (non-meditators), and (iii) post-meditation/sitting quietly. In each phase, participants will have their eyes open half the time and closed the remainder of the time. Physiologic data will be recorded during the three phases. Electroencephalogram (EEG), electrocardiogram (ECG), and respiration comprise physiological recording. Analysis of EEG data will examine effects on amplitude (i.e., power) and phase synchrony in different frequency bands of theoretical significance. ECG data will be analyzed examining average beats-per-minute and heart rate variability (HRV). Respiration will be quantified in terms of breaths-per-minute. The cognitive tests are scored for accuracy and reaction time. Comparisons will be made between groups (i.e., meditators and non-meditators) and between the different phases of recording to characterize differences between the baseline state, the meditative state, and the state immediately following meditation.

Heather Jaskirat Wild

Oregon Health and Sciences University, School of Medicine

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