People who meditate (or who practice the very
similar Westernized, secular relaxation response) often report mood elevation and feelings
of enhanced well-being.
In a study of 154 women who felt depressed because they were being treated for breast cancer, British researchers met with one-third, the controls. They taught another third a combination of the relaxation response and visualization therapy using pleasant, relaxing imagery. The final third were taught progressive muscle relaxation, another meditative technique. Before and after tests showed that the control group remained depressed, but both relaxation therapies significantly improved the women's mood.
"Many studies have shown mood elevation in depressed people who regularly elicit the relaxation response," notes Herbert Benson, M.D., the Harvard researcher who popularized the relaxation response, and introduced meditation into American medicine.