We offer an impressive collection of online databases that you can use to learn more about topics that interest you. To celebrate Mental Health Month, we’ll take a look at a few databases which can provide you with information on complimentary approaches to improving one’s mental and physical health.
In order to showcase the variety of information available, we’ll focus on finding resources that have information on meditative and mindfulness practices at different research levels. Resources range from short, breezy research summaries to in-depth reviews of recent research, so there is a good chance that one of these databases will have something for you -- so long as you know where to look!
Let's start by finding some materials that offer great information at an introductory level.
Alt HealthWatch, opens a new window will help us find articles on complimentary approaches to improving one's health, so we know we will find something on mindfulness meditation there. In addition, Health Source - Consumer Edition, opens a new window and Consumer Health Complete, opens a new window are fantastic places to find resources on health-related topics that distill complicated, jargon-laden information into resources for non-experts. Since they include authoritative reviews on up-to-date research, these resources can serve as great starting points.
For instance, in an article provided by Alt HealthWatch, opens a new window, Harvard researcher Sara Lazar "found that 40- to 50-year-old meditators have key brain structures similar to those of non-meditators in their 20s" (4). These resources can be helpful to get a broader, more accurate sense of a topic before diving into specifics. As an example, Health Source - Consumer Edition, opens a new window provided resources that did just that while also dispelling common myths, such as: A) Meditation is a religious practice that requires incense, candles, or chanting (1). Or B) Someone is “bad at meditation” if his/her mind gets lost in thought while meditating. It turns out that it is actually an important part in training your mind to (re)focus (1).
If you're looking for more in-depth information on mental health and mindfulness meditation...
Psychology and Behavioral Sciences Collection, opens a new window, CINAHL, opens a new window, and Medline, opens a new window offer reports on recent research, so they are great places to look in addition to Alt HealthWatch, opens a new window and Health Source - Consumer Edition, opens a new window. Research reports found through these databases indicate that meditation may be a low-cost and faith-neutral way to improve memory, social-emotional learning in students (2), and the ability to regulate one’s emotional states more effectively (3)(6). One study on the quality of life of Buddhist Monastics also found that "spending more time each day and having longer years of practice were associated with better mental health" (7).
This is just the tip of the iceberg of the information that is available on this topic, and it is available with just a few clicks. If you would like to read more on this topic, there is a list of the articles referenced in this blog for you to review below.
Lastly, navigating databases can be confusing and intimidating at first, but our reference librarians are always happy to help!
Health Source - Consumer Edition
(1) Jacobs, Darcy, and Ginny Graves. “5 Myths About Meditation. (Cover Story).” Prevention, vol. 71, no. 6, June 2019, pp. 56–59. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=hxh&AN=136236369&site=ehost-live.
Psychology and Behavioral Sciences Collection
(2) Valosek, Laurent, et al. “Effect of Meditation on Social-Emotional Learning in Middle School Students.” Education, vol. 139, no. 3, Mar. 2019, pp. 111–119. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=pbh&AN=136190807&site=ehost-live.
(3) Alt HealthWatch -> Leung, Natalie T. Y., et al. “Potential Therapeutic Effects of Meditation for Treating Affective Dysregulation.” Evidence-Based Complementary & Alternative Medicine (ECAM), vol. 2014, Jan. 2014, pp. 1–7. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1155/2014/402718.
(4) Alt HealthWatch -> Swanson, Ann. “The Neuroscience of Presence.” Yoga Journal, no. 314, Mar. 2020, pp. 56–57. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=awh&AN=141696820&site=ehost-live.
(5) Alt Health Watch -> Petty, Lisa. “Neuroplasticity Stretches Brainpower: The Case for Being Dense.” Alive: Canada’s Natural Health & Wellness Magazine, no. 420, Oct. 2017, pp. 109–110. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=awh&AN=127421371&site=ehost-live.
(6) Blum, Harrison, et al. “Mindfulness Meditation and Anxiety in Adolescents on an Inpatient Psychiatric Unit.” Journal of Health Care Chaplaincy, vol. 27, no. 2, Apr. 2021, pp. 65–83. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1080/08854726.2019.1603918.
(7) Tsui, M. C. F., et al. “Mindfulness Meditation, Mental Health, and Health-Related Quality of Life in Chinese Buddhist Monastics.” East Asian Archives of Psychiatry, vol. 30, no. 3, Sept. 2020, pp. 67–72. EBSCOhost, doi:10.12809/eaap1949.