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Scientifically Proven Benefit  of Mindfulness Training 

After Only 8 Weeks

Less Stress
Chronic stress can be very dangerous to our health.
We might be suffering from stress and yet pretend that we are fine, or may not even realise that we are stressed. 
It may even have become our new normality. 
We may experience it as worry, feeling run down, or fatigued.    
The stress response,  known as the fight, flight or freeze response is our survival mechanism from old and is still fantastic at saving our lives when faced with a real physical threat. Our bodies react before we even know it; taking action, and fast!
When the threat is not physical, but perceived as threatening by our minds, such as receiving 50 emails a day, our bodily reaction is still the same and this is where the danger to our health lies. when it results in chronic stress.
Stress, chronic stress, mindfulness, stress relief & reduction
Photo by Sydney Sims
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 Chronic stress  is our repeated response to what we perceive as an  emotional  threat or pressure in our modern lives. It can have some really nasty effects on our mind-state and physical health, producing a cocktail of potentially harmful hormones such as noradrenaline and cortisol.  

As Chris Bergland writes in Psychology Today, 2013

'The stress hormone, cortisol, is 'public enemy number one.'

'Scientists have known for years that elevated cortisol levels interfere with learning and memory, lowers immune function  and bone density; and increases weight gain, blood pressure, cholesterol and heart disease. It also increases the risk for depression and other mental illnesses, and lowers life expectancy.' says Bergland.

Numerous studies have found that Mindfulness can reduce chronic stress and what's more,   increase our resilience. 
Mindfulness meditation allows us to enact a physiological shift in the body that is the absolute opposite of the stress response. In this way our breathing, pulse rate, and  blood pressure are lowered. 
In conjunction Therapeutic Mindfulness techniques show us how to break the train of rumination (thinking and thinking), or worrying, which create the stress in the first place.
We can change our relationship to stress by changing our mindset through our mindfulness practice
We learn the skillful responses to stressful events rather than simply reacting to them in habitual ways.   
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 The Science

Chronic Stress

1. Frontiers of Immunology conducted a meta-analysis of 18 different studies looking at how Mindfulness  Based  Interventions effects gene expression in those with chronic stress. 2016 

It deduced that 81% of these studies showed that Mindfulness Based Interventions can reverse the effects of gene expression of  inflammation caused by chronic stress. Thereby the body has been changed on a cellular level to no longer experience stress.

 2. Effects of Mindfulness on Psychological Health: A Review of Empirical Studies

Shian-Ling Keng,a Moria J. Smoski,b and Clive J. Robins, 2011

An investigation into the past two decades of all correlational studies, clinical intervention studies and lab based experimental studies of   mindfulness concluded that Mindfulness Training reduces general psychological distress, including perceived stress. All studies showed that mindfulness training is positively associated with psychological health, including a reduction in perceived stress and improved regulation of behaviour.

Stress Resilience

1. Alterations in Brain and Immune Function Produced by Mindfulness Meditation

Davidson RJKabat-Zinn JSchumacher JRosenkranz MMuller DSantorelli SFUrbanowski FHarrington ABonus KSheridan JF.  Wisconsin USA. 2003

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 & feelings were confirmed at the 4 month follow up, indicating resilience.

In the control group there were no such changes.

NB: 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 Mindset 

1. The Role of Stress Mindset in Shaping Cognitive, Emotional, and Physiological Responses to Challenging and Threatening Stress

Crum, A. J., Akinola, M., Martin, A., & Fath, S. 2017.

This study shows how we respond to stress depends on our stress mindset, and altering this changes our psychological & physiological response: How a person views stress dramatically changes their response to it. Crum divided participants into two groups who underwent a mock interview, a universally stressful situation for most. Group 1 was shown a video highlighting that stress is not as bad for the body as we thought. Group 2 was shown a video claiming stress is even more debilitating than we thought. The attitude to stress was named the stress mindset. The results were very conclusive: Those in Group 1 experienced an increase in the hormone DHEA, associated with building optimum health and a rise in their problem solving skills. Group 2 experienced a diminished biological response and performance.

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