Meditation Induces a Positive Response during Stress Events in Young Indian Adults

Article excerpt

Byline: Balakrishnan. Vandana, Lakshmiammal. Saraswathy, Gowrikutty Krishna. Suseeladevi, Karimassery. Sunadaram, Harish. Kumar

Background: Relaxation techniques like meditation have been found to be beneficial in reducing stress. Aim: The aim was to find out the effect of the Integrated Amrita Meditation (IAM) technique on the response to life changes. Materials and Methods: The IAM technique, progressive muscle relaxation (PMR) technique, and the Life Changes Questionnaire (LCQ) were used. LCQ was culturally adapted to the Indian population. One hundred and fifty subjects were randomized into IAM, PMR, and Control groups. LCQ scores were documented in all groups at 0 h, 48 h, 2 months, and 8 months after the training. Statistics Analysis: Within groups, comparison was done by the paired t-test and between groups by ANCOVA. Results: The new LCQ was analyzed using split-half reliability and was found to be having a correlation coefficient 0.96. On within group analysis, the IAM group showed a significant decrease in LCQ scores (P = 0.004) in the second visit which was maintained in the third (P = 0.003) and fourth visits (P = 0.001). Within the PMR group, there was a significant decrease (P = 0.006) in the third visit and fourth visits (P = 0.001). No significant change was seen within the control group in any of the visits. The decrease in LCQ scores in the IAM group was significant at the end of 8 months when compared to the Control group (P < 0.05) whereas the decrease in the PMR group was not significant in comparison with the control group. Conclusion: The IAM technique is an efficient tool in reducing stress as measured by LCQ.

Introduction

Man's expectations or desires make his life physically and mentally strenuous. The obstacles which prevent him from achieving them, which may be personal or environmental in nature, can make life stressful. Goldstein introduced a new definition, that is, "Stress is a condition where expectations genetically programmed, established by prior learning or deduced from circumstances do not match the current or anticipated perceptions of the internal or external environment." [sup][1]

The cause for stress in the Indian population varies from poverty to urbanization. The World Health Organization (WHO) news report 2010 says that India being a part of the global trend of urbanization, nearly 28% of its population now lives in cities now, and this is expected to increase to 41% by the year 2020. The rapid increase in the urban population worldwide is among the important threats to global health in the 21 [sup]st century. The World Health Report 2002, Geneva, states that nontransmissible diseases will be the leading cause of functional disability in the next two decades. Stress is highlighted as a major risk factor for a variety of diseases ranging from cardiovascular to mental illness mostly predominating in the urban areas. [sup][2] In a study conducted in people working in factories all across India, among urban, migrant, and rural men, the overall prevalence of diabetes was found to be 13.5% in the urban and 14.3% in the migrant population. Moreover there was a huge urban versus rural difference in the prevalence of diabetes as it was only 6.2% of the rural population. [sup][3] According to Stansfield, modern life events such as work-related and family problems, social withdrawal, financial worries, and violence are some factors that can predispose or induce stress. [sup][4]

A short-term exposure to stress may be harmless to physical and mental health but chronic exposure to the same may lead to a prolonged state of distress which may enhance vulnerability to stress-related diseases. [sup][5] Stress and other emotional responses affect the body's ability to remain healthy or to resist disease. Stress and emotion appear to have important implications for the initiation or progression of cancer, HIV, cardiovascular disease, and other illnesses through nervous, endocrine, and immune systems. …