Scientifically Proven Benefit of Mindfulness Training
After Only 8 Weeks
Improves Focus, Memory & Mental Processing
Being able to concentrate fully on work, studies, the person in front of us, or whatever the day brings has obvious benefits for our busy, often distracted and fractured modern lives.
Indeed, key mental processes such as analysing and committing things to memory can also be increasingly difficult to hone when we are pulled from one distraction to the next, especially as we get older, or during the menopause.
Therapeutic Mindfulness can teach us the skills necessary to build this "attention muscle" and improve our mental functioning.
A comprehensive study into the lasting effects of mindfulness has found that there is less distractibility even during multi-tasking among "those that practice regular mindfulness routines".
Also, the science tells us that the areas of the brain associated with attention & focus, learning and memory, emotional regulation, self talk and perspective are actually altered in structure following a course of Therapeutic Mindfulness, and the more we meditate, the more our brains change.
In fact our brains are re-shaping all the time dependent on our experiences. This is known as neuroplasticity.
So, just like lifting weights at the gym allows us to lift heavier weights; as we consistently re-focus our attention during mindfulness meditation we are building brain cells & carving out neural pathways that are beneficial for increasing our attention and our ability to focus.
Mindful meditation can also decrease emotional reactivity whilst maintaining attention control suggesting that this newly trained focus can be maintained even during difficult times.
A comprehensive study
1. Altered Traits: Science Reveals How Meditation Changes Your Mind, Brain, and Body
Book, by Daniel Goleman and Richard Davidson. 2018
An analysis of the numerous studies on Mindfulness Meditation and a review of the top scientific literature existing on what meditation can really do. "Gold-standard studies that we identified show that there is less mind wandering and distractibility among those who practice regular mindfulness routines. These people showed better concentration, even when multi-tasking, therefore not only when meditating, demonstrating a lasting change, or trait change".
The science tells us
1. Mindfulness Practice Leads to Increases in Regional Brain Gray Matter Density
Britta K. Hölzel, and Sara W. Lazar et al 2012
This study found increases in brain regions associated with mental health, and suggested, that such increases represent enduring changes in brain structure that could support improved mental functioning. Participants in an 8 week MBSR training were tested against a wait-list control group. Whole brain analyses identified increases in grey matter in the left hippocampus, the posterior cingulate cortex, the temporo-parietal junction, and the cerebellum in the MBSR group compared to the controls. The results suggest that participation in MBSR is associated with changes in gray matter concentration in brain regions involved in learning and memory processes, emotion regulation, self-referential processing, and perspective taking. Also major depression and PTSD are asociated with decreased volume of the hippocampus.
2. The ReSource Project conducted by the Max Planck Institute in Germany. Changes in Brain structure after 3 months of Mindfulness Meditation/Presence Training. 2015
Results from brain imaging confirmed that changes in brain structure were directly related to the form of mental training practiced. Immediately following 3 months of Presence training (breathing practices and body scans, etc), participants showed significantly greater thickness in the anterior prefrontal cortex and anterior cingulate cortex, both of which are associated with attention and executive function. Performance on computer-based tasks that measure attention and executive function also increased.
Decrease emotional reactivity
1. Mindfulness Meditation and Reduced Emotional Interference on a Cognitive Task. Motivation and Emotion
Ortner, C.N.M., Kilner, S.J., & Zelazo, P.D., 2007
In a study of people who had anywhere from one month to 29 years of mindfulness meditation practice, researchers found that mindfulness meditation practice helped people disengage from emotionally upsetting pictures and enabled them to focus better on a cognitive task as compared with people who saw the pictures but did not meditate. The conclusion was that mindfulness meditation decreases emotional reactivity during stress. It serves to help an individual gain a detached perspective of their emotional experiences, thus promoting healthy coping strategies that lead to better psychological health and well-being.