A randomized controlled trial of tong len meditation practice in cancer patients: evaluation ofa distant psychological healing effect

Context

Tong Len meditation is an important therapeutic tool in the Tibetan medicine, and it can be used for self-healing and/or to heal others. Currently, in the West, there is no scientific study concerning the efficacy of a Tong Len distant healing effect on psychological disorders in cancer patients.

Objectives

To evaluate a distant healing effect of Tong Len meditation on stress, anxiety, depression, fatigue, and self-perceived quality of life in cancer patients. These psychological objectives were chosen as a consequence of the limited scientific literature of present day.

Design

We performed a double-blind randomized controlled trial on 103 cancer patients with tumors. Overall, 12 meditators used Tong Len in aid of 52 patients randomly selected as experimental group, while the remaining 51 patients constituted the control group. Patients and meditators did not know each other. All patients completed profile of mood states (POMS) and European Quality of Life—5 dimensions (EQ-5D) questionnaires before treatment (T0), after two (T1) and three months of treatment (T2), and one month after treatment cessation (T3).

Results

With regard to the parameters related to depression, a statistically significant improvement (P = .003) was observed in the treatment group compared to controls. On the other hand, the vigor/activity parameter saw significant improvements in the control group (P = .009). Both groups exhibited significant improvements in the other factors assessed in the POMS and EQ-5D questionnaires.

Conclusions

This study did not provide sufficient evidence supporting an efficacy of Tong Len meditation in distant psychological healing as compared to a control condition. The research highlighted some psychological improvements through Tong Len distant meditation in a group of patients unknown to meditators. Therefore, the enhancement detected in most parameters in both treatment and control groups raises interest on in-depth analysis and evaluation of distant meditation on cancer patients to mitigate psychological problems caused by the disease.

 

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