Scientifically Proven Benefit of Mindfulness Training
After Only 8 Weeks
Improves Physical Health
Much of what we diagnose as physical disease is underpinned by inflammation in the cells of the body.
Inflammation in the body triggers Cancer, heart disease and stroke, chronic fatigue, chronic pain, and fibromyalgia to name but a few. (Also mental diseases such as Alzheimer's and depression).
Citing two of great concern are:
Chronic Pain which has been called The Silent Epidemic with nearly half of the UK population suffering from it in 2016.
And heart disease which kills one in four people in the UK, British Heart Foundation 2017.
Recent research regarding the link between Mindfulness Training and reducing chronic inflammation has had excellent results
demonstrating the efficacy of using Mindfulness Training to alleviate most of our physical manifestations of disease.
Also, a fabulous by-product of MIndfulness Training is that it increases antibodies in study participants and therefore reduces susceptibility to disease.
The mind-body connection is central to the practice of mindfulness and therefore perhaps not a surprise that changing our minds through mindfulness, also changes our physiology.
Therapeutic Mindfulness is a welcome competitor as a physical healthcare intervention as it is non-invasive, and has no harmful side-effects.
As Mindful meditation produces the relaxation response it has the proven effect of reducing blood pressure in people with hypertension and therefore again, reducing the risk of heart attack and stroke.
Reducing chronic inflammation
After 8 weeks of Mindfulness Based Therapy (MBT) training with 45 minutes a day of mindful meditation the stressed out and anxious biotech workers in this study reported feeling able to deal with feelings of frustration or stress.
FMRI scans also confirmed changes in brain activity, moving from right to left in the Prefrontal Cortex (PFT) after the MBT.
Activity in the right PFC demonstrates thoughts and feelings such as frustration, anger, hostility.
Activity in the left PFC demonstrates thoughts and feelings of happiness, enthusiasm & joy .
Also these changes from right to left PFC activity & change in feelings were confirmed at the 4 month follow up, indicating resilience.
In the control group there were no such changes.
Both groups were also vaccinated with the flu vaccine at the end of the 8 week period. It was found that the participants who had undergone the Mindfulness Training showed significant increases in antibodies compared to the control group.
Changing our minds also changes our physiology
All the 18 studies included in this systematic review showed improvement in the condition of patients after MBSR therapy. These studies were focused on patients with chronic diseases like cancer, hypertension, diabetes, HIV/AIDS, chronic pain and skin disorders, before and after MBSR therapy.
An advantage of MBSR is that these interventions have little risk and can increase the capability of patients to have control over their pain, mood swings and lives, as well as enhance quality of their life.
Reducing blood pressure
Zusman, R and Libermann, T. 2018
Researchers identified genes and biological pathways linked to immune regulation, metabolism, and circadian rhythm in people who reduced their hypertension after eight-week relaxation response training including Mindfulness Training.
"Importantly, the changes in gene expression associated with this drop in blood pressure are consistent with the physical changes in blood pressure and inflammatory markers that one would anticipate and hope to observe in patients successfully treated for hypertension."
Rosenkranz, Richard J. Davidson, Donal G. MacCoon, John F. Sheridan, Ned H. Kalin and Antoine Lutz. University of Wisconsin, 2013
This study compared two methods: a mindfulness meditation-based approach, and a program designed to enhance health in ways unrelated to mindfulness.
The comparison group participated in the Health Enhancement Program, which consisted of nutritional education; physical activity, such as walking; balance, agility and core strengthening; and music therapy. The content of the program was meant to match aspects of the mindfulness instruction in some way. For example, physical exercise was meant to match walking meditation, without the mindfulness component. Both groups had the same amount of training, the same level of expertise in the instructors, and the same amount of home practice required by participants.
The results show that behavioral interventions designed to reduce emotional reactivity are beneficial to people suffering from chronic inflammatory conditions.
The study also suggests that mindfulness techniques may be more effective in relieving inflammatory symptoms than other activities that promote well-being.