Mindfulness meditation found to combat loneliness

AFP, July 31, 2012

LOS ANGELES, CA (USA) -- A new study finds that mindfulness meditation can help older adults battle feelings of loneliness while also boosting health.
The study, published in the journal Brain, Behavior & Immunity, shows that eight weeks of training in mindfulness meditation (a total of 2.5 hours a week) is linked with decreased loneliness.

<< Older adults reported reduced feelings of loneliness after taking part in an eight-week training on mindfulness meditation.

The study included 40 participants between ages 55 and 85, some of whom participated in an eight-week training programme (a total of 2.5 hours a week) called Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, which was established by Jon Kabat-Zinn at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in the US.

“We always tell people to quit smoking for health reasons, but rarely do we think about loneliness in the same way,” said study lead J. David Creswell said in a statement dated July 24.

“We know that loneliness is a major risk factor for health problems and mortality in older adults,” he said, adding that the research suggests that mindfulness meditation training could be “a promising intervention for improving the health of older adults.”

Using the blood samples collected, the researchers also found that the older adult sample had elevated pro-inflammatory gene expression in their immune cells at the beginning of the study and that the training reduced this pro-inflammatory gene expression, which the researchers said could “reduce older adults’ inflammatory disease risk.”

Aside from alleviating loneliness, mindfulness meditation has also been shown in recent research to have positive effects on the brain – linked with brain changes that may even have effects against mental illness.

Another recent study also found that mindfulness meditation, along with moderate exercise, was linked to a reduction in the severity of colds and flu during winter.