There have been several scientific studies that have revealed that mindfulness meditation can actually change the structure of the brain ion a positive way. It is only now that we can more appreciate the positive benefits of meditation, since modern technology is allowing us to delve deep into the recesses of the mind.
Details Of Research
Here are some details of such research, and a simple explanation of how to perform mindfulness meditation.
In a study in the January 30 2011 issue of ‘Psychiatry Research’, results show that by participating in an 8 week mindfulness meditation program, significant changes in brain regions associated with memory, sense of self, empathy and stress can be made.
Mindfulness meditation essentially involves focusing on your own inner mind, and tuning out or ignoring the world around you, whilst you focus on your inner mind. There are many different ways of achieving this, and I will show you one such method later in this article.
MR images were taken of the brain structure of 16 participants two weeks before and after they took part in an 8 week Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) Program at the University of Massachusetts Center for Mindfulness. During the 8 weeks they received weekly meetings and had guided meditation audio sessions to take home with them. It was found that the participants spent an average of 27 minutes per day practicing mindfulness exercises.
The analysis of MR images after the 8 weeks found increased grey matter density in the hippocampus, which is important for learning and memory. It also revealed an increase in grey matter density in areas associated with self awareness, compassion and introspection. This shows that meditation literally improved the brain in almost every way.
Most subjects also reported reductions in stress. This was confirmed by the decrease of grey matter density in the amygdala, which is known to play an important role in stress and anxiety.
In 2007 researchers at the University of Pennsylvania also conducted a study on mindfulness meditation and they concluded that practicing even small amounts daily improves performance and the ability to focus attention.
Benefits Of Meditation
Therefore it would seem that science firmly points to mindful meditation helping our minds in many ways. Just these two studies showed improvements in learning, memory, self awareness, compassion, introspection, and a reduction in stress and anxiety. It is likely that further studies will reveal even more improvements, such as improved energy, sleep patterns, and even happiness.
This is why we owe it to ourselves to practice meditation. It is not difficult, and you do not need to be some sort of obsessed spiritual guru to benefit from meditation. I will show you one quick and simple method.
In order to do mindfulness meditation, try these following steps.
1. Get your self seated in a comfortable position with good posture.
2. Focus on your breathing. Listen to the sounds of the air as it is breathed in, and as it flows out.
3. Any stray thought that comes into your mind, simply allow them to pass. Remind yourself that you are meditating and you can think about these things later. This is your time.
4. Continue to focus on your breathing and enjoy doing nothing. There is no right or wrong, so don’t judge yourself. By doing nothing you are actually achieving so much by improving your mind.
5. If you have any stray thoughts, simply remain calm and continue to focus on your breathing.
It is better to do this little and often. 10 minutes per session, once or twice per day if you can. After some practice you will be able to build this up to much longer periods of time.
It should quickly become apparent that your mind is improving, and you will feel calmer, happier, and more relaxed. It is also likely that you will experience improvements in other areas that I have not even mentioned in this article. For variety, you may soon wish to discover different methods of meditation. There is almost a limitless amount of different techniques to experiment with. With a little experience you can probably develop your own unique techniques, specifically tailored for yourself. Enjoy!
Jon Rhodes is a clinical hypnotherapist, musician, author, and meditator. He is owner and operator of the Meditation Den. If you want some help meditating, then please click here for details of our collection of Meditation Mp3s.