Mon 31 Mar, 9:00 pm - 10:00 pm 60mins 3/3. Meditation
Millions of people are using meditation to help not just their minds, but also their bodies. But what is meditation and why are so many people drawn to it? What does science say about how it might work and whether it can actually help?
In the final, and most personal, film in the Alternative Therapies series, Professor Kathy Sykes investigates the ancient practice of meditation. It's a journey that leads her to examine her innermost feelings, and one which takes her to meet scientists working at the very frontiers of knowledge about how the brain functions.
The film begins in the foothills of the Himalayas where Kathy learns basic meditation from Buddhist monk Matthieu Ricard. She also travels to the US where she learns how her body physically responds when she is meditating.
Kathy visits a city in Iowa that is devoted entirely to one form of meditation. Here children meditate every day at school and others in the community practise yogic flying. They also conduct serious research into meditation and heart health.
Back in the UK, Kathy finds a form of meditation that is being used as a treatment for depression in some parts of the NHS - Mindful Based Cognitive Therapy. She meets Professor Mark Williams, who is pioneering this treatment, and one of his patients, Carol, and examines the evidence for the effectiveness of this type of meditation.
Professor Williams's work takes Kathy's journey off into a completely new area, the science of emotional wellbeing. Kathy enters the world of state-of-the-art neuroscience, meeting scientists who are investigating whether meditation has the potential to change the structure of our brains. If they are right, does this explain whether meditation could have potential for us all?