New Delhi: Previous studies have effectively shown meditation to be healing and relaxing for the body as well as the mind.
A new study has now suggested that, for women, mindfulness meditation can help overcome emotional distress and negativity and uplift their mood.
Mindfulness meditation can be defined in many ways and can be used for a variety of different therapies.
The study was carried out by a team of researchers from Brown University in the US, by measuring changes in affect, mindfulness and self-compassion among 41 male and 36 female students.
They observed the students over the course of a full, 12- week academic class on mindfulness traditions.
Students filled out questionnaires at the beginning and the end of the class. Over that time the average student had engaged in more than 41 hours of meditation in class and outside.
As a group, the 77 students did not leave the class showing a significant difference in negative affect.
Researchers found that women showed a significant 11.6 percent decline on the survey's standardised score (which is a positive psychological outcome), men showed a non- significant 3.7 percent increase in their scores.
They found that alongside those changes in affect, each gender showed progress in skills taught as part of meditation, researchers said.
The findings show that the classes were effective in teaching the techniques, though women made greater gains than men on four of five areas of mindfulness.
Researchers also found that in women several of the gains they made in specific skills correlated with improvements in negative affect.
"Improved affect in women was related to improved mindfulness and self-compassion skills, which involved specific subscales for approaching experience and emotions with non-reactivity, being less self-critical and more kind with themselves, and over-identifying less with emotions," researchers said.
Among men, only one of the specific skills was associated with better affect.
"To the extent that affect improved, changes were correlated with an improved dimension of mindfulness involving the ability to identify, describe and differentiate one's emotions," researchers said.
"The gender gap in mental health has been inadequately targeted and often only within the standard medical arsenal of pharmacological treatment," said Rahil Rojiani of Brown University.
The study was published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology.
(With PTI inputs)