People around the world practice meditation in a myriad of ways and swear by the benefits that it provides. Yet, studies of meditation have provided murky results and a 2007 review by the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality concluded that “the therapeutic effects of meditation practices cannot be established based on the current literature.” It went on to recommend further studies that are “rigorous in the design, execution, analysis, and reporting of the results.”
The Scripps Translational Science Institute has responded by teaming up with Dr. Deepak Chopra to conduct a high-tech study of meditation on two groups of people, those that are experienced with the activity and those that are new to it. The participants in the study were hooked up to a ViSi Mobile System from Sotera Wireless to monitor blood pressure and heart rate, an Emotiv EEG for watching brain activity, and a Vital Connect’s HealthPatch for heart rate and heart rate variability, respiratory rate and skin temperature. The data are still being analyzed and results are expected to come out next year.
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Participants were tracked through the devices in real time for 40 minutes during a meditation session on the first day of the retreat and again for 40 minutes during a meditation session on the last day. The devices generated massive streams of data – more than 1 million data points per minute for each individual – that were securely collected through a special wireless infrastructure set up by Burwood Group, a technology consulting firm headquartered in Chicago with offices in San Diego. The data were stored in cloud-based servers operated by Huneo, a Cleveland health data processing company.
Study participants ranged in age from 20 to 72 and came from as far away as Columbia, Denmark and Belgium to attend the retreat.