The research, published in Frontiers in Psychology, the top journal in the psychological field, examined participants using EcoMeditation, a recently-developed method.
After a one-day workshop, their anxiety dropped by 42%, and depression by 38%. A three-month follow-up found that these improvements were maintained over time. The results were statistically significant, meaning that there was only a one-in-twenty possibility that they were due to chance.
EcoMeditation combines several scientifically validated methods into a brief and simple routine. Its components include mindfulness, heart coherence training, neurofeedback, acupressure, and self-hypnosis. It is designed to be easy for novices. Instead of requiring people to still their minds, it uses physiological cues, such as slowing the breath and relaxing specific muscles.
Studies that have used MRI and EEG to examine brain function in people using EcoMeditation have found that it produces structural changes in the brain within 30 days. It reduces activity in brain regions associated with suffering, and increases activity in regions that process positive emotions like compassion, happiness and gratitude. The method has been available free on the web at EcoMeditation.com for over a decade.
According to lead investigator Dawson Church, head of the National Institute for Integrative Healthcare, EcoMeditation is effective because it uses physical rather than mental methods.
Observes Church, “Those who try EcoMeditation tend to stick with it, because they feel immediate shifts in their bodies the first time they use it.”
This may explain the positive long term results of the study. At the three-month follow-up period, 71% of participants continued to experience increased happiness and “flow” states. Several other studies have found positive effects from EcoMeditation, including reduced blood pressure and cortisol.
The World Health Organization has measured a 25% global increase in anxiety and depression since the start of the 2020 pandemic. This makes methods like EcoMeditation — which do not involve drugs or therapy, require only modest amounts of time and training, and have no side effects — a useful alternative to conventional treatments.
For full text of study, see: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2022.907846/full