Healthcare Application Meditation 3 pages

Healthcare Application Meditation

Aside from a willingness to place one’s faith in the unproven, those who adhere to the ancient spiritual beliefs of Buddhism and Hinduism share one fundamental practice with patients who have adopted the increasingly prevalent practice of holistic healing: the use of meditation to improve clarity, concentration, and quality of life. Meditation is based on intense personal introspection, wherein an individual typically sits in solitude and silence, focusing their mind completely on a particular reflective topic, or simply concentrating deeply on the vexing concepts of being and nothingness. The process of meditation occurs in many forms throughout the world’s major philosophical models, with Christians and Muslims joining their fellow worshippers in the Eastern religions by using the meditative act of prayer to delve within their mind’s inner sanctum. Today, even secular individuals with no connection to a recognized religious following employ meditation as part of their fitness routine, or to relieve stress in the workplace or domestically. Due to the widespread use of meditation by people from all walks of life, many medical practitioners have published research on the efficacy of this eternal belief system in terms of alleviating a patient’s pain, improving their overall outlook, and enabling a full recovery. By conducting a thorough literature review on the role of meditation in Western medicine through the evolution of American healthcare delivery, a more informed position on this technique can be formed, which is useful because familiarity with alternative healing practices is an essential skill for those working as healthcare providers.

One landmark study on the efficacy of meditation in the relief and management of chronic pain was published in 1982 by Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn, who used his capacity as the Director of the Stress Reduction and Relaxation Program for the University of Massachusetts Hospital to empirically analyze meditation’s potential to reduce pain symptoms. By utilizing a variant of Theravada Buddhism known as mindfulness meditation, Kabat-Zinn taught patients who had been diagnosed with untreatable chronic pain to detach themselves mentally and psychologically from the physical suffering they were forced to endure due to their condition. While this form of meditation did not remove the occurrence of pain, Kabat-Zinn consistently observed that “patients evidenced attitudinal and behavioral changes which can be attributed to the regular practice of mindful meditation: an ability to observe mental events, a reduction in pain levels and pain related behaviors, & #8230; (and) an improved ability to cope successfully” (Kabat-Zinn, 1982). Measuring his patient’s pain with visual imaging system known as the Dermatome Pain Map, Kabat-Zinn detected considerable reductions in nerve activity associated with flare-ups of pain in chronic conditions like cancer, arthritis, and lower back pain. Even with the presence of a placebo in his testing to screen for the psychological tendency of patients to affect their own temporary pain relief when administered new treatment, Kabat-Zinn’s study of meditation’s role as a pain reliever concluded that “the majority of patients experienced considerable improvement in their conditions over the course of the ten-week training program in mindfulness meditation” (Kabat-Zinn, 1982).

Despite several subsequent confirmations how meditation can be integrated within the practice of complementary medicine, the majority of primary care physicians today still refuse to incorporate this mental and spiritual component to healing in their overall treatment regimen (Spiegel, Stroud & Fyfe, 1998). The accelerated spread of pharmaceuticals as the most commonly advised treatment option, even for minor instances of discomfort and irritation, has created a medical environment in which most doctors simply lack the financial incentive to suggest that a patient pursue the personal healing path found through meditation. Nonetheless, when a patient today is confronted by the prospect of chronic pain, increased stress, and psychological uncertainty due to a medical condition, they are far more likely than ever before to meditate as a way of asserting control over their own health outcomes. Research on the willingness of ordinary Americans to pursue complementary medicine, which uses holistic healing to complement Western medicine, has revealed that “the appetite for complementary medicine is stimulated by a need for attention and compassion that many patients are not getting in biotechnical medical care” (Spiegel, Stroud & Fyfe, 1998).


Anderson, E., & Anderson, P. (1987). General practitioners and alternative medicine. The Journal of the Royal College of General Practitioners, 37(295), 52. Retrieved from

Kabat-Zinn, J. (1982). An outpatient program in behavioral medicine for chronic pain patients based on the practice of mindfulness meditation: Theoretical considerations and preliminary results. General hospital psychiatry, 4(1), 33-47. Retrieved from 1982.pdf

Spiegel, D., Stroud, P., & Fyfe, A. (1998). Complementary medicine. Western Journal of Medicine, 168(4), 241. Retrieved from

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