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Templeton Foundation awards grant for meditation research
Date:11/19/2012

tation after training and had improved measures of cellular health that have been linked to aging. In addition, those participants who reported greater mindfulness had diminished stress hormone levels.

The new funds will aid completion of analysis of the original data set as well as support follow-up data collection. In new work, the researchers will carry out structured telephone interviews with the participants, assessing their experiences of the retreat six years later and investigating what changes it made in their lives and how those changes continue to affect them.

Saron, Sahdra and colleagues will use a sophisticated network analysis to see which physiological and psychological measures made during the retreats are associated with long-term personal growth years later and which are not.

Additionally, they will interview other people, including family members, colleagues and friends of the retreat participants, to garner their observations about the long-term changes in the participants.

"We're relating how things that we can measure in the laboratory reflect meaningful changes in peoples' lives," Saron said.

"A common way people think about meditation is as though it is a formulaic process. Take a person, follow the instructions, obtain a result but meditation is not so mechanical," Saron said. "We view it as a commitment to investigate the nature of one's mind in a developmental process of becoming familiar with 'the world within.' This promotes a more knowing and friendly attitude towards oneself. We think this greater comfort 'within our own skin' will be reflected in mental and physical health, our actions in the world, and felt by those with whom we interact."

"We fundamentally care about individual differences," Saron said. "Why do people change? How can we develop a sense of purpose?"

A sense of "purpose in life" is gaining increased recognition within the field of psychology as a key
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Contact: Andy Fell
ahfell@ucdavis.edu
530-752-4533
University of California - Davis
Source:Eurekalert

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