How meditation improves the quality of life for people with HIV

When someone is diagnosed with any life-threatening disease, focus is taken off things they used to enjoy and the illness becomes an all-consuming part of their lives. Practicing mindfulness can help boost patients' mental health and wellbeing.

If you want a better quality of life, you might want to meditate on it, seriously. Mandy Oaklander of TIME recently wrote a report on Thomas Roth, an instructor of Transcendental Meditation, who took a group of HIV patients and supplemented their daily regimen with his 40-year-old brand of meditation.


It may be considered alternative medicine, but controlled studies have shown meditation helps ease anxiety, depression, and pain. The idea behind the study has promise: when someone is diagnosed with any life-threatening disease, focus is taken off things they used to enjoy and the illness becomes an all-consuming part of their lives. 

Roth, who is also the director of the David Lynch Foundation HIV Initiative, prescribed 39 patients three months of Transcendental Meditation for 20 minutes twice a day. The study group is quite small, but the early findings are promising.

Roth reported that the patients' felt energized, less stressed and depressed, and got sick less frequently. However, the study didn't measure T-cell counts or look at blood biomarkers—instead relying on patients' own observations for how they felt.

Julie Corliss, Executive Editor of the Harvard Health Letter, would take issue with this light test group. She argues that there needs to be more controlled group studies if meditation is to succeed in the medical field.

His study is, at the moment, unpublished. But Roth feels quite confident with this early marker, stating: “My prediction two years ago was that this could improve the quality of life of people living with HIV.”

Transcendental Meditation has been applied and researched for over 40 years to help Veterans, victims of abuse, and students with reports of success from average Joes to Hugh Jackman.

In his Big Think interview, Yoga Master and co-founder of Jivamukti Yoga, David Life talks about the importance of meditation. His premise is that it sets the groundwork for how you'll interact and treat others throughout your day. So, rather than turning on the news and having the world's worries in your head first thing, meditation allows you to start with a clean slate:

Read more at TIME

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