THE EVIDENCE & BENEFITS
In the past 30 years we have learned more about the brain and how it works than ever before. One of the most interesting areas of neuroscientific research and discovery has been around the connection between mindfulness meditation and the psychological and physical benefits it can have, particularly in an 8-week mindfulness course format.
Research has shown that with practice, mindfulness can dramatically and positively counteract the effects of stress that has a huge impact on our health, performance and quality of life. The findings have led to practices being developed that are now used to treat many mental and physical health issues, as well as generally improving our performance, relationships, and well-being.
In short, mindfulness has been proven to change your brain:
- Meditators had a measurably thicker tissue in the left pre-frontal cortext. This the area of brain used for processing difficult emotions. (2005, Sara Lazar)
- Neditation has been shown to counteract the thinning of the cortex that occurs naturally with age and thus may protect against memory loss and cognitive defects.
- Brains of experienced meditators contain more grey matter ie the brain tissue responsible for processing high-level information, than non-meditators. Especially in the areas of the brain associated with attention, body awareness and the ability to modulate emotional responses. (2009, Eileen Luders, UCLA)
- Meditators have an increased grey-matter density in the hippocampus, known to be important for learning and memory and in structures associated with self-awareness, compassion and introspection.
- Participant-reported reductions in stress also were correlated with decreased grey matter in the amygdala, which is known to play an important role in anxiety and stress. (2010 Massachusetts General Hospital)
- When meditating the area of the brain showing the response to brain is much less activated than when not meditating. The pain does not go away but it becomes more manageable.
- Meditators are more efficient at dropping extraneous thoughts and focusing on the matter at hand.
- Mindfulness Meditation reduces the risk of relapse in depression by more than half.
- Meditation can also boost and improve our immune system.
Explore my blog posts for more information about evidence based research and mindfulness.