Differences in Subjective and Physiologic Measures of Anxiety among Expert Meditators (EM) and Non-Meditators (NM) During and After Acute Stress
Authors: Deena Suen, Simon Padanilam, Denise Feyes, Sean Hobson, Monica Webb Hooper, Jeff Dusek, Curtis Tatsuoka, Richard T. Lee
Background: Clinical research has shown the benefit of meditation techniques to help reduce symptoms of stress. We explored how EM differ from NM in their response to acute stress.
Methods: We recruited EM (defined as ≥3,000 hours of meditation practice) and healthy controls with no meditation experience. Subjects were asked to rest, relax/meditate, undergo the Trier Social Stress Test (TSST), and relax/meditate again. We collected heart rate (HR), systolic blood pressure (SBP), salivary α-amylase (SAA), salivary cortisol (SC), State-Trait Anxiety Index (STAI), Bispectral Index (BIS), and EEG at each stage.
Results: Of the 42 people recruited, 6 subjects were removed due to incomplete data or ineligibility. In total, 16 NM and 20 EM were included in this analysis. Subjects had a median age of 40 (20-72) with 17 females. EM had an average of 25,000 hours of meditation practice. EM generally had a lower HR throughout the study (64.4-65.9 vs 71.0-73.7, p<0.01) with the most significant change during the TSST of 8.1% increase for NM vs 0.4% increase in EM (p=0.049). Although SBP was higher among EM, the percent change from baseline during the TSST for EM was less than for NM (3.1% vs 7.2%, p=0.03). The STAI-state scores was significantly lower at all stages among EM, especially after the TSST (30.9 vs 45, p=0.002). SAA increase an average of 200% in response to the TSST versus only 16.1% for EM (p=0.001). Additionally, both SAA and SC were significantly lower after post-TSST meditation among EM than NM: -10.7% vs 67.4% (p=0.001) and -18.0% vs 59.1% (p=0.02). No significant differences were found in the BIS scores and EEG analysis is ongoing.
Conclusions: We conclude that EM demonstrate smaller changes in both subjective and objective measures of stress during and after the TSST. These data support the benefits of meditation to reduce the effects of stress for patients.
Can Reiki Practitioners Detect Human Energy Fields?
Authors: Gabriel Moss, Sean Hobson, Bethanny Bristol, Richard T. Lee
Background: Reiki is a form of energy healing that has gained popularity in the United States. This study examines the capability of Reiki practitioners (RP) to detect human energy fields (HEF), a central component of Reiki practice.
Methods: Volunteer RP under blinded conditions were asked to correctly identify hand placement by a research assistant for a total of 20 trials. Four potential options existed for RP subjects (right, left, both, or neither); thus, random chance would predict a success rate of 25%. A success rate of >40% was considered significant, and these individuals would be asked to conduct another 40 trials. A control group of non-energy trained volunteers were also asked to complete the same task.
Results: A total of 67 RP participated in this study with a mean age of 58.4 (range 28-77) and most were female (61). The majority were Reiki Masters (60) and practiced Reiki an average of 11.4 years (±6.2, 1.5-24). All RP were able to complete 20 trials for a total of 1,340 individual trials with each taking an average of 18.7 seconds (±20.1, 3-190). RP had a mean success rate of detecting HEF of 25.4%, (median 5±1.8, 1-10). One subject met criteria for repeat testing with results of 15/40 correct. Reiki Masters were more likely to detect HEF (>25% correct) than non-Reiki Masters (p=0.031). Years of experience (>10), age (>60), female sex, being right handed, or taking more time to detect HEF (average >20sec) did not correlate to an increase in detecting HEF. The control group of 25 non-energy trained volunteers had an average success rate of 24.2% (median 5±1.7, 2-8).
Conclusion: In general, RPs’ ability to detect HEF in this study was equivalent to chance and similar to a control group of non-energy trained volunteers.