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Researchers combine meditation, brain stimulation devices to create 'transcendental' experience

International Business Times logo International Business Times 20/11/2019 Rishabh Jain
a woman sitting on a bench: Mindfulness meditation © francescoch/iStock Mindfulness meditation

Mindfulness and meditation may have proven health benefits and research in this area is now expanding. Some researchers at the Medical University of South Carolina are trying something new – they are merging meditational practices with new brain stimulation equipment.

Brain stimulation is done by passing a controlled amount of current to the transcranial region of the brain. It's called "transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS)." This technique is combined with mindfulness meditation to create what is being called "e-meditation."

The goal of the study is to provide a cognitive and holistic solution such as depression. Mindfulness meditation is particularly difficult to practice, given the level of distractions created by modern technology. Brain stimulation will provide the solution to engage the brain, while meditation will allow a subject to achieve mindfulness.

Transcranial stimulation is both done in labs and privately. The equipment is available privately and involves passing a current to the brain through the skin. Research has indicated that it has positive effects on depression and improving one's ability to concentrate. It can help people stabilise their wandering minds and help maintain the discipline necessary for meditation.

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The researchers claim further that they have used the device themselves and self-administered to check if there were any side effects or other issues.

The Medical University of South Carolina has set up a 5-day "e-meditation retreat" where the effects of the treatment on 31 subjects will be studied. Subjects will be using a brain stimulation device along with daily meditation.

It is too early to determine the results. In fact, there are some complications. The subjects will only be able to judge the effects of the meditation after the second use.

However, there are interesting possibilities, as this combines psychology, lifestyle practices and science. If the research results are measurable, it can help future research on meditation.

a woman sitting on a bench: Mindfulness can reduce the risk of depression relapse francescoch/iStock © francescoch/iStock Mindfulness can reduce the risk of depression relapse francescoch/iStock

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