Search iwellville
Emotion, the Journal
RSS Feed


We just love this graphic from our friends at Healthline. Looking at all of the documented impact stress has on the body puts us in the mood to meditate! Find Healthline's more detailed description of the stress-body connection here. Read iwellville's story about the stress-pregnancy connection here.


The Effects of Stress on the Body


Meditation Increases the "Value of Calm"

If for no other reason, we love elegance in a study. That's why we're making note of this recent paper from the Stanford University, Department of Psychology, Culture and Emotion Lab, which offers insight into the minds and emotions of regular meditators.  

Most studies of meditation focus on how meditators feel, but Birgit Koopman-Holms Ph.D. and her colleagues ingeniously decided to focus their study on "how people ideally want to feel."

Predictably, meditators ideally wanted to feel calm more and excited less than non-meditators, but the groups did not differ in their actual experience of calm or excited states.

Things really got interesting when the researchers probed participants' values. After eight weeks, meditators valued calm more than non-meditators even though they did not differ in their actual experience of calm compared with the other groups.

In short, meditation altered people's priorities--with greater value placed on being calm--more than it did their actual experience of the world.

If thoughts do become reality, though, greater calm should follow greater valueing of calm.....grasshopper.


In A New Study, Mindfulness Meditation Prevents Pneumonia

A new study that illustrates meditation's apparent ability to help prevent chest infections is a Godsend at this time of year. A small epidemic of non-flu acute respiratory infections--otherwise known as wicked coughs--has cropped up to make this flu season more miserable than usual. Until now, preventive strategies have been limited to not smoking, washing hands, avoiding sick people and staying well nourished. Now you can add meditation, and light exercise, to that list.

In a clever study--published this past summer in the Annals of Family Medicine by researchers at the University of Wisconsin--scientists found that people who participated in a mindfulness meditation program based on the work of Jon Kabat-Zinn missed an impressive 76% fewer days of work for acute respiratory infections (such as pneumonia) than people who did not meditate.

Another experimental group, who exercised lightly (mostly brisk walking or jogging for 45 minutes a day), missed 48% fewer days than the control group, who neither exercised or meditated.

In as much as exercise also reduces stress, it's possible the same mechanisms were at play for both groups. A series of previous studies demonstrated that perceived stress, negative emotion, and lack of social support predicted not only self-reported acute respiratory infection, but also its biomarkers such as viral shedding and inflammatory cytokine activity.

For this study, the meditators learned a form of Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction based on Kabat-Zinn's work showing that increased awareness of physical, emotional and cognitive manifestations of stress may lead to a healthier mind-body response to stress. "Mindfulness" was defined as "a state of non-judgmental awareness, a heightened sensitivity to bodily sensation, and attention to one's own thoughts and emotions." Taught by Kabat-Zinn-trained practitioners, the course required two and a half hours of group instruction and 45 minutes of daily at-home practice. It was a commitment, but one that paid-off with increased productivity and better health.

Researchers did not create an uber-group that both exercised and meditated...but imagine the possibilities!

View "Guided Mindfulness Meditation", an audio CD from Jon Kabat-Zinn.

Get Mindfulness for Beginners by Jon Kabat-Zinn.


Listening May Bring More Power Than Talking


We tend to think of smooth talkers as having the most influence on others. Although the gift of gab is indeed important, being a good listener provides even more of an advantage, according to new research.

In a study from the June Journal of Research in Personality, former work colleagues rated participants on measures of influence, verbal expression and listening behavior. Results indicate that good listening skills had a stronger effect on the ratings of influence than talking did.

read  the rest of the story at


New Study: Letting Go of Regrets Key to Happy Old Age

Happy Aging; No RegretsIn a new paper published in Science, researchers from the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf in Hamburg, Germany, report evidence from two experiments which suggest that one key to aging well might involve learning to let go of regrets about missed opportunities. Stafanie Brassen and her colleagues looked at how healthy young participants (mean age: 25.4 years), healthy older participants (65.8 years), and older participants who had developed depression for the first time later in life (65.6 years) dealt with regret, and found that the young and older depressed patients seemed to hold on to regrets about missed opportunities while the healthy older participants seemed to let them go.

Read more about regrets and healthy aging at