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Meditation beats dance for harmonizing body and mind
Date:2/24/2011

The body is a dancer's instrument, but is it attuned to the mind? A new study from the University of California, Berkeley, suggests that professional ballet and modern dancers are not as emotionally in sync with their bodies as are people who regularly practice meditation.

UC Berkeley researchers tracked how closely the emotions of seasoned meditators and professional dancers followed bodily changes such as breathing and heart rates.

They found that dancers who devote enormous time and effort to developing awareness of and precise control over their muscles a theme coincidentally raised in the new ballet movie "Black Swan" do not have a stronger mind-body connection than do most other people.

By contrast, veteran practitioners of Vipassana or mindfulness meditation a technique focused on observing breathing, heartbeat, thoughts and feelings without judgment showed the closest mind-body bond, according to the study recently published in the journal Emotion.

"We all talk about our emotions as if they are intimately connected to our bodies such as the 'heartache of sadness' and 'bursting a blood vessel' in anger," said Robert Levenson, a UC Berkeley psychology professor and senior author of the study. "We sought to precisely measure how close that connection was, and found it was stronger for meditators."

The results offer new clues in the mystery of the mind-body connection. Previous studies have linked the dissociation of mind and body to various medical and psychiatric diseases.

"Ever have the experience of getting home from work and realizing you have a blistering headache?" said Jocelyn Sze, a doctoral student in clinical science at UC Berkeley and the lead author of the study. "The headache probably built up throughout the day, but you might have been intentionally ignoring it and convincing yourself that you felt fine so that you could get through the demands of the day."

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Contact: Yasmin Anwar
yanwar@berkeley.edu
510-643-7944
University of California - Berkeley
Source:Eurekalert

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