For many years people have been sharing their beliefs in the benefits of mindfulness meditation. Recently, as mindfulness has gained popularity, folks from all over the world have been experimenting with mindfulness meditation and claiming to have had benefits such as a reduction in stress, clarity, better relationships, etc.
While most people would agree that a regular meditation regimen does produce positive results , until now there have been very few clinical studies to actually verify these claims. Most of the “data” supporting the benefits has been handed down through word of mouth and personal experiences. Most notably, Buddhist monks have been practicing mindfulness meditation for years and shared their benefits and are often referenced by supporters sharing the benefits.
True believers can now take joy in knowing that their claims of benefitting from mindfulness mediation have been clinically proven to be the true. For the first time, a controlled study was conducted by psychiatric schools around the country including, Carnegie Melon, Ohio State University and several other well respected institutions.
The study, published in Biological Psychiatry, showed how mindfulness meditation can have a very positive effect on peoples brains and ultimately lead to better physical and mental heath.
35 highly stressed job-seeking unemployed adults were selected to participate in the 3- day intensive study. Participants were divided into 2 groups. Group A took part in an intensive residential mindfulness meditation program, while Group B were involved in a residential rest and relaxation program to deal with their stress. Both groups had pre-trial brain scans to monitor activity.
Those in Group A were immersed in all aspects of mindfulness meditation to help deal with their stress.
J. David Creswell, who led the study and is an associate professor of psychology and the director of the Health and Human Performance Laboratory at Carnegie Mellon University said that mindfulness meditation requires “an open and receptive, nonjudgmental awareness of your present-moment experience”.
Both Group A and Group B were required to participate in various activities during the 3 day study. ‘‘We had everyone do stretching exercises, for instance,’’ Dr. Creswell said. Those in Group A were told to pay full attention to how their body felt during the exercises and truly experience any and all sensations, good and bad, during the session. Group B participants were told to speak, share jokes and have a good time while exercising and too completely ignore how their body felt.
When the 3 day trial was over participants from both groups shared that they all felt a reduction in their stress levels. However, only those in Group A showed any differences when a follow up brain scan was conducted. There was more activity, or communication, among the portions of their brains that process stress-related reactions and other areas related to focus and calm.
During a four month follow up those who had practiced mindfulness showed much lower levels in their blood of a marker of unhealthy inflammation than the relaxation group, even though few were still meditating.
The study concluded that Mindfulness Meditation clearly does have physical and mental benefits. However, it was not deciphered as to how long those doing mindfulness meditation need to do so in order to start benefitting from it. The benefits are clear, but how much mindfulness is still not know. As for how much, Dr. Creswell said, ‘‘we still have no idea about the ideal dose.”
For more information on mindfulness please visit: www.themindfulnessguy.com