Knitting, Gardening and Meditation – Studies in Wellness from the Week

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Spring’s rebirth of the natural world can signal that it’s a great time to bring a little bit of rebirth into our own lives. A few studies this week offer up some suggestions for ways we can progress down the road to wellness. The first comes from Dr. Andrew Weil on arecent study from the Spirituality Mind Body Institute at Teachers College, Columbia University, that found meditation to be an effective mitigation against familial depression. Weil explains:

The team wrote that while more study is needed, these new results suggest that spirituality or religion may protect against major depression by thickening the brain cortex and counteracting the cortical thinning that normally occurs with major depression.”

Another study reaffirms the healing qualities of thephysical act of gardening. Typically, gardening and health studies focus on older folks, but this one from two universities in Seoul, South Korea, was unique in that it used a sample (albeit a small one) of adults in their 20s. Researchers found that basic gardening tasks could be classified as “moderate to high-intensity” activities. As Eric Brown from Outside magazine explains, this is useful information because:

As scientists learn more about gardening's physical aspects, that information could be put to use in therapy programs for injured or special-needs patients, or just to figure out how long people need to tend their crops to equal their usual morning jog.”

Lastly, Katherine Martinko, writing for TreeHugger, suggests that you might want to dust off your knitting needles and buy some wool to improve your overall health. Citing a number of studies, Martinko gives seven examples of way that this DIY activity can do more than just make a sweater. She reports:

Dr. Herbert Benson, founder of Harvard’s Mind/Body Medical Institute, wrote The Relaxation Response, in which he recommends the repetition of a word, sound, phrase, prayer, or muscular activity to elicit “the relaxation response” – decreased heart rate, muscle tension, and blood pressure. Knitting is likened to meditation, sometimes described by knitters as “spiritual” and “Zen-like.”  

Want a study you can do on your own? Let yourself slip into the meditative action of knitting while sitting in your garden, and see how great you feel.

PHOTO: Robert S. Digby, Creative Commons

Sources:

 Read all articles by Damon Cory-Watson

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