Lynn science professor to study meditative relaxation response at Harvard

“As a society we focus more on the factors that cause stress, but relatively little attention is directed to the factors that can help us relax,” said Ahmed.
Lynn science professor to study meditative relaxation response at Harvard

Published Feb. 05, 2013

This fall, Khalique Ahmed, a professor of chemistry and physics in Lynn University’s College of Liberal Education, will spend four months in Boston, Mass., as a visiting professor of medicine at the Harvard Medical School (HMS) and as a visiting scientist in an HMS affiliate, Division of Sleep Medicine, Department of Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

During his four-month sabbatical, Ahmed will use basic chemistry principles to study the effect of meditative relaxation response (opposite to the fight-or-flight response) on students learning and well being.

“As a society, we focus more on the factors that cause stress, but relatively little attention is directed to the factors that can help us relax,” said Ahmed. “Not only will my research focus on the relaxation response, the psychophysiological response often produced during yoga and other meditative practices, but I will also be collecting qualitative and quantitative data.”

As Ahmed pointed out, “the idea of implementing relaxation techniques in education is appealing, but the existing evaluation methods in this field lack quantitative scientific measurements and mostly focus on the outcomes without understanding the underlying cause and effect relationships.”

Ahmed’s study will track the percentage of exhaled nitric oxide (EXNO) in the human breath to assess the efficacy of the Yogic Meditative Relaxation Response in students' learning.

“Chemistry principles reveal that in a relaxed physiological state, human beings exhale more EXNO in their breath as a byproduct of cellular activity in the body,” said Ahmed. “In our study, we will employ sophisticated Nitric Oxide Detectors to detect the part per billion levels of EXNO in the control and experimental groups of students.”

Ahmed’s teaching style

Khalique Ahmed, B.S., M.S., Ph.D.Ahmed will use his meditative relaxation response research at Harvard to teach his students basic chemistry principles.

“I want my students to experience the beauty and fun of science, not the abstractness and boredom of it,” said Ahmed. “I am not a textbook style teacher. Instead, I base my teaching on my real life experiences in the diverse areas of science.”

In addition, Ahmed actively involves his students in research projects to teach them the protocol of scientific inquiry and to help them to publish research in peer-reviewed journals.

More on Ahmed

Khalique Ahmed, a professor of chemistry and physics in Lynn University’s College of Liberal Education, has more than 25 years combined teaching, research and administrative experience – 13 of which have been at Lynn.

In addition to his upcoming sabbatical at Harvard Medical School where Ahmed will examine the effect of meditative relaxation response on students learning and well being, his most recent research is focused on the application of photonics to the areas of green fuels, nutraceuticals and bio pesticides. Ahmed also studies the interface of social and natural sciences, including the role of science in the promotion of world peace and in pro-social behavior.

In this role, Ahmed can speak to the media about meditative relaxation response, problems in the areas of application of photonics to disease detection and monitoring, food science, and analytical methods development, among others.