More and more people are practicing mindfulness. And that’s big thanks to neuroscience. Modern instruments have made it possible for neuroscientists to study the effects of mindfulness in the brain.
In the past years, mindfulness and meditation as alternative healing practices have been frowned upon because of the lack of scientific backing. But thanks to fMRI machines, brain activity can now be measured.
These machines have actually shown “fundamental changes in brain architecture that prove slowing down can actually heighten our mind’s awareness and response rates,” says a Daily Beast article.
Because there are more scientific studies on the effects of mindfulness in the brain, people are taking it more seriously.
A psychologist from the University of Wisconsin admits that lack of technology has made it harder to prove the benefits of mindfulness, however, there has always been an interest from the neuroscience community to study the impact of meditation.
He said that one of the reasons why it has taken quite a long time for mindfulness to be studied seriously is that they have been waiting for technology to catch up. So despite the interest in studying the impact of meditation, the neuroscience community was limited by the lack of tools to use. Now that technology has finally caught up, they can finally prove the impact of practicing mindfulness.
“We can look at brain structure and function and study people repeatedly over time to see how practicing mindfulness and meditation impact the brain and change behavior and experience,” he said.
As more scientific proof of mindfulness and meditation comes to the surface, people are steadily considering this practice as part of their everyday routine.
“Celebrities swear by it, scientists study it, monks still practice it and business leaders use it to thwart burnout,” says an article from the Forbes magazine.
If you want to start practicing mindfulness but are not sure how to do it, you can use these 14 Mindfulness Techniques To Improve Wellness Naturally. They are actually very simple and with practice, everyone can do them.
Practicing Mindfulness for Children and Adolescents
Some people are even advocating to teach practicing mindfulness in schools to benefit young children. Brighton Grammar School in Australia is pushing to teach mindfulness to its students. They believe that this will have tremendous benefits for their kids.
Although they admit that mindfulness is still in its infancy with regards to mindfulness-based approaches for children and adolescents, they said that they have seen encouraging results. Among the characteristics that they observed from their students are:
- increased attention span and better focus
- better emotional regulation
- greater insight (self-knowledge, awareness)
- improved relationships and attunement with others
- greater empathy
- reduced stress
- greater impulse control (the capacity to pause before taking action, being able to consider a range of responses and choose among them)
- increased ability to calm and soothe oneself
- greater awareness of bodily physical sensations
- increased kindness and compassion
- academic improvement.
Practicing Mindfulness in Sports
Months ago, the popular sports company, Nike, joined the crowd of mindfulness enthusiasts by partnering with Headspace, a digital service or app that provides guided meditation sessions and mindfulness training.
Mariella Moon of EnGadget writes,
“Nike has joined forces with meditation app Headspace to provide you with a different kind of audio-guided run: one that works your body and calms your mind.”
Moon further wrote that Headspace’s audio-guided “mindful” runs can be found on Nike’s Run Club (NRC) app. These apps feature coaches and athletes speaking into your ear and giving you running instructions.
Are You Ready to Practice Mindfulness?
Despite a more scientific approach in the study of the practice of mindfulness, not all are convinced on its overall effect on health and wellness. A BBC article, authored by Bruce Lieberman, suggests out that mindfulness may have been over-hyped.
“For all its popularity, it’s still unclear exactly what mindfulness meditation does to the human brain, how it influences health and to what extent it helps people suffering from physical and mental challenges,” he writes.
However, Lieberman did present in his article several instances where mindfulness “worked”. For example, it is believed to alleviate symptoms of general anxiety disorder and lessen the perception of pain. And these results are based on brain images results. It is also seen as a good treatment for mental illness and PTSD.
In the following TED video, Dr. Shauna Shapiro, an internationally recognized mindfulness expert, demonstrates how practicing mindfulness can help us make positive changes in our brains. She draws her knowledge from both modern neuroscience and ancient wisdom.
We can say that mindfulness has serious benefits when it comes to managing stress and anxiety. We believe that practicing mindfulness every day is life-changing.