Benefits and Evidence
There is now extensive research verifying the benefits of mindfulness from around the globe. These include:
  • Symptoms of depression and anxiety are reduced or minimised
    After just 5 days of meditation training at 20 minutes a day, a group of undergraduates reported less anxiety, depression, and anger.

  • Those practising Mindfulness are less affected by stress
     A study showed office workers who practiced Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) for twenty minutes a day reported an average 11% reduction in perceived stress.  Another example of improved handling of stress was shown by a group practicing mindfulness meditation during light-treatment for psoriasis, known to be exacerbated by stress, revealing four times the speed of healing for the chronic skin condition. 

  • Improved concentration
    Psychologists tested participants in a mindfulness programme and found that after only four days of twenty minutes practice per day, they exhibited significantly improved concentration skills.

  • Strengthening of the immune system
    A 2003 study focused on how an 8-week training course affected the brains and immune systems of individuals. This investigation showed increased activation in a region of the brain correlated with positive feelings, as well as evidence that the immune system reacted more robustly in antibody production after meditation training.

  • Greater resilience around negativity
    Mindfulness meditation practice makes people less prone to taking on another’s negative attitude or emotion. A study of an 8-week Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction course for nurses showed that their mindfulness practice facilitated a decreased tendency to take on others’ negative emotions. 

  • Improved relationships at work and at home
    Studies of mindfulness-based programs have revealed that medical students experienced improved empathy and physicians had decreased burnout and enhanced attitudes to their patients.

    Parents that practice mindfulness show less family related stress, and report an increase of positive social interaction within the family.

Research shows that the ways we intentionally shape our internal focus of attention in mindfulness practice induces a particular state of brain activation during the practice. With repetition, an intentionally created state can become an enduring trait of the individual as reflected in long-term changes in brain function and structure. This is a fundamental property of neuroplasticity—how the brain changes in response to experience. In Mindfulness, the experience is the focus of attention in a particular manner.

Some insight into the possible core mechanisms that enable the application of mindfulness to the treatment of a wide range of mental disorders was offered in a recent study by Norman Farb and colleagues in Toronto. After just an eight-week mindfulness program, subjects were able to alter their brain function in a way that confirmed they could distinguish the “narrative chatter” of their baseline states from the ongoing sensory flow of here-and-now experience. This ability to develop discernment—to differentiate our unique streams of awareness—may be a crucial step for disentangling our minds from ruminative thoughts, repetitive destructive emotions, and impulsive and addictive behaviours.

For more information on Mindfulness, the benefits and/or evidence please contact: patricia@space4you.org.uk

INTERESTING RESEARCH: Radio 4 'Frontiers' programme on Wednesday 26th November was about the vagus nerve, essential to both physical and emotional health. As well as practical ways of treating rheumatoid arthritis and epilepsy, the programme towards the end mentioned research of how the mindfulness Loving Kindness meditation had been proven to improve vagal tone and therefore well-being. Fascinating stuff! and more evidence for the benefits of mindfulness. Try the following link to get to the programme: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04pv6kq


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