Mindfulness-based trainings have shown beneficial effects on inflammatory disorders in clinical studies and are endorsed by the American Heart Association as a preventative intervention.
The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) published the results of a ground-breaking study that found that meditation appears to provide as much relief from some anxiety and depression symptoms as antidepressants.
A study in Psychoneuroendocrinology by researchers in Wisconsin, Spain, and France reported the first evidence of specific molecular changes in the body following a period of intensive mindfulness practice.
Mindfulness is the intentional, accepting and non-judgemental focus of one’s attention on the emotions, thoughts and sensations occurring in the present moment.
Mindfulness Meditation is the most effective
Dr. Madhav Goyal of the John Hopkins School of Medicine, who led the research published in JAMA, singled out mindfulness meditation as the most effective form.
“It doesn’t surprise me at all that mindfulness performs as well as or better than medication,” says Adrian Wells, a professor of psychopathology at Manchester University and a clinical advisor to the charity Anxiety UK.
The psychologist Katie Sparks agrees. “In the group work that I’ve done with sufferers of anxiety or depression, I’ve found it very beneficial because it calms the mind. It’s not a new thing,” she adds.
Mindfulness is a meditation technique that has been advocated by Buddhism for 2,500 years. Its crossover into Western culture has been gradual. But in 2004, its use in preventing the relapse of depression was approved by the U.K.’s National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice). It has rapidly gained traction since.
Gene Activity Can Change According To Perception
According to Dr. Bruce Lipton, a proponent of the power of the subconscious mind, gene activity can change on a daily basis. If the perception in your mind is reflected in the chemistry of your body, and if your nervous system reads and interprets the environment and then controls the blood’s chemistry, then you can literally change the fate of your cells by altering your thoughts.
In the simplest terms, this means that we need to change the way we think if we are to heal ourselves.
“The function of the mind is to create coherence between our beliefs and the reality we experience,” Dr. Lipton said. “What that means is that your mind will adjust the body’s biology and behaviour to fit with your beliefs. If you’ve been told you’ll die in six months and your mind believes it, you most likely will die in six months. That’s called the nocebo effect, the result of a negative thought, which is the opposite of the placebo effect, where healing is mediated by a positive thought.”
The intention of Mindfulness Meditation is to train the mind, in the same way that we would lift weights to strengthen a muscle, to be able to concentrate — and avoid weakly wandering around on autopilot — for longer and longer periods of time.
Mindfulness focuses the human brain on what is being sensed at each moment, instead of on its normal rumination on the past or on the future.
Mindfulness is gaining a growing popularity as a practice in daily life, particularly in light of the constant stimulation offered by mobile devices (the average person checks their phone every six-and-a-half minutes) keeps us permanently alert, affecting our ability to concentrate, form memories and relax.
If anxiety is the modern malaise, perhaps mindfulness is the cure.
Source: Michael Forrester at Prevent Disease