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Mindfulness as medicine

Mindfulness as medicine

Picture of Neda Iranpour
Mindfulness as Medicine
Exploring Mindfulness as Medicine

Local hospitals in San Diego like UCSD and Scripps offer mindfulness programs where they encourage people to meditate, sit in silence, and just “be” as a way to de-stress and help heal their bodies.

Dr. Deepak Chopra (book writer and founder of the Chopra Center), Dr. Sheila Patel (family care physician who also studies and prescribes Ayurvedic and natural techniques), and Dr. Gordon Saxe (of UCSD’s Integrative Medicine) all agree that stress and inflammation cause our bodies to get sick. Several patients of theirs attribute mindfulness to their own healing.

A former war correspondent, Bhava Ram who lives in San Diego and has several retreats at Coronado Island, encourages this type of lifestyle. He attributes yoga and meditation to curing his cancer and back injuries.

But, what does mindfulness truly mean? How does sitting in silence get us anywhere? There are several scientific studies being done here in San Diego on the effects of meditation and relaxation on the brain. Dr. Chopra is leading one of them and they are also studying this at UCSD’s Integrative Medicine where they have hooked up people’s brains to sensors to determine what happens to their neurons.

Several  centers in our area also offer retreats where people sit in silence, without technology - for days! A few of the owners of these retreats have seen a remarkable growth in interest in this form of escape and "medicine." Several places including a New Mindful Life, the Dharma Center, and The School of Mindful Living seem to be thriving with full schedules and full courses on meditation, self-healing, etc. 

So are these legitimate forms of medicine or are they ploys to make money?

Aside from hearing the first-hand accounts of how mindfulness has assisted in healing, I would like to hear from Western medicine doctors. They may provide warnings on why people should still see their regular doctors and not fully trust mindfulness to be the cure-all. 


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Hi Neda,
I enjoyed your article and believe meditation could be used as a money maker. But, some of Richard Davidson's research provides validity in its usage and results. Will people exploit those results? Quite likely. I visited a self-realization center a few of years ago in California and ran into a couple of interesting situations with 'side' services of the center. I believe there will always be a need for a healthy skepticism around spiritual or enlightening practices. Thanks for your thoughts on meditation.


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