Prepared by Dr. Peter Malinowski
Dr. Peter Malinowski is a Senior Lecturer in Psychology at the School of Natural Sciences & Psychology, Liverpool John Moores University. He is also a close student of Lama Ole Nydahl, a founding member of the Liverpool Diamond Way Buddhist Centre, travelling teacher, trustee of Diamond Way Buddhism UK, and has been instrumental in the establishment of Diamond Way Buddhism in the UK, particularly in the North of England, since 2001. In this brief article he presents an overview of contemporary research into the psychological and physiological effects of Buddhist meditation.
A growing number of scientific studies support the idea that regular Buddhist meditation practice improves psychological and physiological well being. In several experiments it has been shown that experienced meditators have improved attentional and cognitive abilities [1-4], which are considered to be cornerstones for a healthier appraisal of potentially stressful situations and for psychological well being in general . Furthermore, first studies indicate a link between regular Buddhist meditation practice and changes in brain activity that are indicative of increased dispositional positive mood [6,7]. There also appears to be a direct link between Buddhist meditation practice and improvements of the immune response of the body . Meditation may also have some neuroprotective effects, delaying the aging process of the brain. Several studies show larger thickness of some areas of the cortex  or a larger gray matter volume in Buddhist meditators than in non-meditators [9-12]. To a large extent these differences appear to be based on a reduced age related decline of brain mass which is present in the normal population.