For centuries, Eastern thinkers and mystics have practiced meditation to better appreciate the nature of the universe around them and to find balance within themselves. Recently, there has been a lot of hype in the news about something called ‘mindfulness meditation’, but what exactly is mindful meditation and what can it do for humans’ health and well-being?
Mindfulness meditation is a series of exercises that are performed to help relieve stress by taking deep breaths and training one’s mind to pay attention to our thoughts.
Recently, neuroscientists have found that practicing this form of meditation activates a special brain network called the default mode network (DMN). In fact, after scanning the brains of monks trained in meditation techniques to a healthy control group of non-monks, it was found that the activity of the DMN was much greater! Researchers suggest that the mindfulness training in these brain regions is associated with greater attentional control, better emotional regulation, and decreased stress responses; factors that are especially important now in helping to manage the chronic stress of the pandemic.
In addition, it has been found useful when treating individuals with certain neurological and psychiatric conditions and has improved their quality of life by helping them to become more proactive in learning to combat their stress.
So, those Eastern mystics may be on to something with regards to mindfulness meditation. While there remains much research to fully answer how different forms of meditation work, mindfulness meditation may be a good way to help lessen the negative long-term impacts of stress on our health and wellbeing.
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