Meditative State Analysis
Mindfulness meditation (MM) is an inward oriented practice associated with altered mental activity, in which a resting but alert state of mind is maintained. Among a population of older people with high stress levels a set of controlled MM intervention is performed to aid in objective quantification of meditation state. We hypothesize that there may be markers of meditation depth contained in electroencephalographic (EEG) signals measured from an array of electrodes as well as respiration signal. In this study, we explore EEG and respiration from such subjects, before and during meditation, to evaluate the relationship between depth of meditation and changes in the signal ensemble. We observed the change in spectral behavior of the signals and we further hypothesize that the phase relationship between pairs or sets of electrodes and the spatiotemporal structure of the signals will both reflect meditation state. Thus, we report on development and testing of methods, including respiration data analysis and phase synchrony, to characterize the EEG manifestation of these different meditative states.
Mind-body medicine such as meditation and yoga is the most commonly used type of complementary and alternative medicine treatment. However, the evidence for efficacy is not compelling and stems from several problems including inadequate controls, inappropriate and highly variable outcome measures, and lack of measures for intervention adherence. An additional problem includes the lack of a measure for practice ability which would improve analysis of intervention trial data. Mindfulness meditation (MM) is one mind-body approach that is popular and teaches skills applicable to everyday life situations. A key facet of MM is attending to the present moment in a non-judgmental way. Specific examples of MM intervention have already been formally studied and applied in a variety of clinical conditions. In order to develop better mind-body research methodology, it would be useful to demonstrate a measure of meditation ability. There have been some studies analyzing self-rated meditation ability using self- rated measures. While some physical mind-body interventions have used objective ability measures, e.g., video- ecording, the meditation intervention literature lacks any sort of objective adherence or meditation ability measures. Objectively assessing meditation ability might shed light on why meditation trials succeed or fail. There has been some evidence of Electroencephalography (EEG) changes during meditation. EEG is altered during meditation, primarily shown with expert meditators and not as well shown with novices. These meditative state changes likely overlap with relaxation changes. There has been interest in EEG synchrony as a meditation measure. The original synchrony analyses were based on using wavelets. We performed a randomized controlled intervention of MM in a population of older people with high stress levels, a population we have shown benefiting from a MM intervention. A physiological measure of meditation ability has not been established in the meditation research field, and studies often rely on self-report to gauge meditation experiences. Our plan was to define a novel measure of quality of meditation ability practice using a physiologic panel including respiration and EEG.