Saybrook University integrative medicine student Tamami Shirai presents poster on clinical study of meditation at Lifestyle Medicine 2015 conference

Tamami Shirai with Research Poster at Lifestyle Medicine 2015

Tamami Shirai with Research Poster at Lifestyle Medicine 2015

Tamami Shirai is a student in Saybrook University’s College of Integrative Medicine and Health Sciences, earning a PhD in the Healthcare Research specialization.  Shirai presented research on meditation at the Lifestyle Medicine 2015 conference, held by the American College of Lifestyle Medicine in Nashville in early November.

Shirai’s meditation project began when she established a meditation training class at the Scripps Memorial Hospital in San Diego, within the cardio-pulmonary rehabilitation center, as a part of her PhD clinical practicum. Later she developed a research study on the participants’ experiences in this meditation program, as part of an independent study with Saybrook instructor Dr. Stephanie Lindsay.  The research study employed an appreciative inquiry approach, a form of qualitative research, and explored the meditation participants’ “lived experience” of the meditation process.

Tamami commented, “Although I was with these meditation class participants every week, interviewing them individually on a deep level gave me a better understanding of why they valued the meditation class.” Tamami realized that attendees’ reasons for coming to the meditation class varied, as each person had a different medical condition.

All participants, she noted, shared some elements in common. All expressed “mild anxiety when they first came to the class, stemming from their serious physical conditions.” She found that the meditation class not only provided them with a “calming, relaxing moment, increasing their awareness of themselves and enhancing their meditation skills, but also motivated them to come to the cardio-pulmonary rehab center, even when they were not planning to do physical rehabilitation exercises.” Thus the meditation class had the benefit of sustaining other healthy behaviors. Tamami noted that although the participants in the meditation class were relatively small in number, the benefits they gained from the class were powerful.

Presenting a poster on her study at the Lifestyle Medicine brought another benefit:  She connected with new lifestyle medicine colleagues, and re-connected with individuals associated with the larger Saybrook community. At the conference she met Dr. Cynthia Geyer, core faculty in the Food As Medicine program of the Center for Mind-Body Medicine. She also was able to connect with Dr. Mark Faries, a director of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine (ACLM), and the chair of its research committee. Tamami will be serving as a volunteer research committee member for the ACLM conference next year, which is scheduled for October 23-26, 2016, in Naples, Florida. She is looking forward to continued participation in the American College of Lifestyle Medicine and its activities.