Research Articles

MicroscopeSince I was a child, I’ve always been fascinated by learning and have done a lot of formal education myself. Much of this knowledge is reflected here in my choice of research articles and weblinks, whether it’s stuff I’ve written or chosen to include.

The articles cover all aspects of personal development, understood in its widest sense. Some of the weblinks and articles are those I’ve come across in researching a particular topic. Others that feature draw on my own formal and on-the-job learning.

As a result you’re likely to find the material is inspired by a variety of different disciplines – from neuroscience, medicine, holistic health and energy healing, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), nature, spirituality and physics to linguistics, communications, history and the arts, the social sciences, social policy research, international development literature and conflict mediation principles.

I hope that what you find here proves to be both enlightening and thought-provoking.

Global Coherence Research: the Science of Interconnectivity – Heart Math Institute

The subject of decades’ long scientific debate, the research investigates how human health and behaviour along with global events and social unrest are affected by the earth, sun, moon and other planets.

Data from the study support the idea of interconnectedness between human emotions and consciousness, all living things and the energetic/magnetic fields of the earth and planets in the solar system.

This interconnectedness takes the form of a feedback loop, where information is constantly relayed, at a subconscious level, among humans, animals, the environment and the earth and planets via the energetic and magnetic fields, of which everything consists. Given that it is the magnetic fields which provide the vehicle for this information, the research points to the fact that all forms of life can influence and be influenced by the environment as well as our collective consciousness.

Mental Health May Depend on the Health of Your Gut Flora

Remember the last time you had a gut instinct? Now scientists are able to prove irrevocably that there is an intricate connection between the gut and the brain and even the immune system.

Evidence increasingly points to the pivotal role of gut bacteria in impacting mood, depression, mental health and early brain development and subsequent behaviour in children. These findings are leading to profound changes in how to treat anxiety, depression and conditions such as autism, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) or Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and bipolar disorder.

So, it seems likely that the way ahead for treatment of these illnesses in the future will be through specially developed probiotics.

Discovering, Applying and Integrating: the Process of Learning in Coaching – Dr Kerryn Griffiths & Dr Marilyn Campbell (PDF, 117KB)

Using a grounded theory approach, this research paper is one of the first to provide scientific evidence that sheds light on the process of learning in coaching.

The findings of this study demonstrate how learning in coaching emerged as a process of discovering, applying and integrating new knowledge. This culminated in a process of learning which was reported by clients to not only typically last beyond the lifetime of the coaching but was also easily sustained thereafter.

While the scale of the study does not permit generalised conclusions to be drawn, it does provide however insight into the dynamics of learning within the coaching process and thus forms the basis of hypotheses that merit further investigation.

A Review of the Scientific Evidence Supporting the Reality of Spiritual Healing – R. D. Hodges, The National Federation of Spiritual Healing (NFSH), UK

This article reviews in detail 155 controlled studies on a wide range of subjects, including humans, in order to document the effects of spiritual healing – otherwise known by a variety of terms such as Reiki, faith healing and Therapeutic Touch. More than half of these experiments produced statistically significant results, thus supporting the reality of a healing effect.

Mindfulness Meditation Improves Connections in the Brain – Harvard Medical School

This article reviews two recent studies on mindfulness meditation. These add to a growing body of evidence suggesting that regular meditation practice is able to not only alleviate a number of physical and psychological problems but can also positively alter the body at a fundamental level – even genetically.

Cognitive Neuroscience of Mindfulness Meditation – Philippe Goldin, PhD (YouTube video)

Philippe Goldin, prominent neuroscientist and clinical psychologist in the mindfulness meditation research field, explores the concept of mindfulness and its clinical applications. He starts off with an overview on the different types of Eastern meditation practice as well as their impact on current clinical psychology.

Drawing on his own as well as other research, Goldin charts the neurological processes involved when we experience anxiety and negative self-belief. The solution he provides is in the form of mindfulness techniques, specifically targeting the regulation of attention, emotions and the individual’s own self-view. He also discusses the extent of sustained change that brain systems undergo in their ability to better deal with stress/anxiety as a result of the use of clinical mindfulness interventions.

Mindfulness Meditation & Urban Youth Project, in association with John Hopkins University Bloomberg School and Penn State University

Among other things, this article describes the innovative Mindfulness Meditation & Urban Youth Project for a group of 4th & 5th graders (10-11 & 11-12 year-olds) in four Baltimore city state (non-private) schools.

The 12-week course emphasised several goals: promoting a healthy mind and body; cultivating positive relationships with others; how to identify stressors; and teaching mindfulness meditation and yoga techniques, including how to use these in order to respond to stress.

The findings of the study indicate a number of significant benefits for the participants and thus suggest that the more widespread use of such interventions could have potential positive knock-on effects for schools, families, peer-groups and communities.

Toward the Integration of Meditation into Higher Education: A Review of Research – Shapiro, S.L; Brown, K.W; Astin, J.A

Mindfulness meditation is gaining advocates for its use in education among some of the top universities worldwide, including in the United States. For example, there is a Mindfulness & Education Working Group at Colombia University for Personal & Professional Development for staff and students including those on the MBA course at Colombia Business School; while Harvard’s Center for Wellness, promotes a number of programmes on mindfulness meditation, yoga and even Reiki training.

This paper reviews four decades of empirical evidence on the alleged benefits of mindfulness meditation in its use to facilitate the achievement of traditional educational goals. This is in the light of studies which have already established links between positive mental health (e.g. absence of stress), social and emotional competence and academic achievement. It suggests that mindfulness may help foster important cognitive skills of attention and information processing, as well as support the development of creativity, help to build stress resilience and adaptive interpersonal capacities.

Although compiled in late 2008 – and therefore prior to more recent research, particularly in neuroscience which confirms many of its findings – this Review nevertheless provides an important contribution to the literature on the benefits to be derived from the use of mindfulness techniques in the higher education forum and/or curriculum.

Bad Sleep ‘Dramatically’ Alters Body – BBC Health 25 Feb 2013

Poor sleep – that is fewer than 6 hours per night – seems to have significant effects on the functioning of our body, organs and most especially our genes.

In the study reported in the article, which was conducted by researchers at the University of Surrey in England, over 700 genes were altered as a result of poor sleep; while sleep of 8 to 10 hours per night had no such effects.

Although conducted on a small sample of people, the study suggests that sleep is critical to regenerating the cells and rebuilding the body as well as enabling it to maintain a functional state. With poor sleep all kinds of damage appears to occur and is linked to ill health such as heart disease, diabetes, obesity and immune dysfunction.

The challenge remains for more research to be done to confirm these findings and fully understand the process.