Meditation for Stress and Pain with Karen Eastman, Ph.D., Lobsang Rapgay, Ph.D., and Lonnie Zeltzer, M.D.

Karen Eastman, Ph.D., Lobsang Rapgay, Ph.D., and Lonnie Zeltzer, M.D., will be discussing ways to use meditation for pain and stress relief.

WebMD Live Events Transcript

The opinions expressed herein are the guests' alone and have not been reviewed by a WebMD physician. If you have questions about your health, you should consult your personal physician. This event is meant for informational purposes only.

Moderator: Welcome to WebMD Live. Today we will be discussing Meditation for Stress and Pain with Karen Eastman, Ph.D., Lobsang Rapgay, Ph.D., and Lonnie Zeltzer, M.D.

Karen Eastman, Ph.D., is currently the Assistant Director of the University of California Los Angeles/RAND Center for Adolescent Health Promotion. Previously, Dr. Eastman directed a preliminary study in the Department of Pediatrics on the effects of meditation on patients with inflammatory bowel diseases. She assisted the interventionist in the writing of the meditation manual for this project. She has also studied treatment outcomes for depression among Chinese Americans. She has also collaborated on a review of cross-national research on child and adolescent psychopathology, empirical studies of the difference in the behavioral and emotional problems of Thai and American adolescents, and maternal beliefs about common problems and help-seeking behaviors. Dr. Eastman also has extensive clinical experience with adolescents and families, including leading group therapy sessions for parents and adolescents. She has also ... students in the U.S. and Hong Kong.

Lobsang Rapgay, Ph.D., is an assistant clinical professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the University of California Los Angeles. He was a clinical instructor in the Mind Body Medical Institute at the Harvard Medical School. He has had major research interests in psychotherapy for patients with life-threatening illnesses focusing on end stage of life issues and the role of meaning, psychotherapy and its application in a hospital setting, and psychotherapy and mind body medicine for medical illnesses.

Lonnie Zeltzer, M.D., is an expert in the field of pediatric pain. She is a former president of the Society for Adolescent Medicine and member of the National Institute of Health's Human Development Study Section. She is currently a Professor of Pediatrics and Anesthesiology at the UCLA School of Medicine. She is Director of the UCLA Pediatric Pain Program and Associate Director of the Patients & Survivors Section, Cancer Prevention and Control Research Branch of the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center. She has well over one hundred scientific publications, reviews and chapters in medical journals, and has lectured internationally.

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Drs. Eastman, Rapgay and Zeltzer, welcome to WebMD Live.

Dr. Zeltzer: I'm delighted to have Dr. Eastman and Rapgay here. Both have worked independently doing meditation for a long time, as well as the three of us together on a research project. Maybe to start, Dr. Rapgay, what is meditation?

Dr. Rapgay: Meditation is generally described as a simple technique to focus the mind on a single object, whether it's your breath, your body, a picture or a visual object. However, meditation from a traditional eastern perspective has a broader meaning and it covers the whole gamut of developing various states of the mind -- from the sensory, cognitive and imaginative.

Dr. Eastman: I just will add, I think that people conceptualize meditation differently and some people focus on the focus. There are common elements to everyone's conceptualization of meditation.

Dr. Zeltzer: How is meditation, Dr. Rapgay, different from other kinds of things that people do with their mind that help them better, like use of imagery or hypnosis, for example?

Dr. Rapgay: Meditation requires a conscious state of mind and at the same time it requires capacity to focus and totally engage with the objects. So, to some extent it's similar to hypnosis, but there is a difference. In meditation there is not active encouragement to go into a trance-like state. In fact, it's contra-indicated.

Dr. Zeltzer: Does meditation make you socially exclusive and not connected with other people?

Dr. Rapgay: Well, overall, meditation does not seek to do that. It actually tries to help you develop initially internal states of mind which do have for an initial period of time, does isolate you from other people in the sense that it's an internal process done privately within the confines of your own self. However, the goal, once you learned to regulate yourself internally, then meditation, advanced forms of meditation teach you how to engage with other people.