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Growing Scientific Evidence for Mindfulness [Exclusive Tips]

Mindfulness can relax you and regulate your emotions in the short term, but it can also change your brain permanently if you approach it as a form of mental exercise. 

What is the Scientific Evidence for Mindfulness?

Studies show that when we intentionally turn our focus onto mindfulness our brain changes activation and with repetition can change brain structure.  This is neuroplasticity, or how the brain can change in response to our experiences, both positive and negative (Mindful.org, Sept, 2019).

Neuroscience research shows that the brain continues to grow and change over our lifespan (neuroplasticity) and we are not ‘hard wired’.  When we experience repeated experiences, the brain neural pathways thicken which changes brain chemistry and anatomy. 

 

How Negative Experiences Affect Mindfulness

If these are negative experiences (such as trauma, addictions, anxiety, depression, obsessions, ruminating, self-harm etc) then these experiences are reinforced and brain structure changes.  Negative experiences trigger the amygdala which is the stress response region in our brain designed to keep us safe (fight, flight, freeze, flop).

Repeated challenging experiences can keep our amygdala firing and creating and thickening neurological pathways.  When we build many negative experience-based pathways our brains maladaptively sustain depression, anxiety, trauma and addiction related responses.  

 

How Positive Experiences Affect Mindfulness

Scientific Evidence for Mindfulness

But the same is true for calming and positive experiences.  

So, using neuroplasticity principles, we can self-direct change through controlling thoughts and using mindfulness, We can literally change our brain to calm down and be less reactive for mental health management and long lasting change. Every time you have a different experience (neutral or positive) you can increase stress tolerance and improve more calm and measured reactivity and responses.  This down-regulates the amygdala which prevents thickening/reinforcing negative pathways and starts building new reparative pathways. 

Research performed by Taren and colleagues shows a connection between long-term mindfulness practice and a decreased size of amygdala (Taren et al., 2013). By practicing mindfulness, we can change how we react to stressful situations and improve our mental and physical well-being.

Mindfulness, reframing to positive thinking (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy – CBT) and reparative therapeutic experiences with your therapist and in other relationships can change your brain structure for the long term. Neuroplasticity is your built-in self-directed mind map for navigating your way to healthier mental wellbeing. The scientific evidence shows that mindfulness is an effective therapeutic intervention.

To find out how to start, read my mindfulness overview article and some simple mindful exercises.

 

Get Mindfulness Help

To make an appointment with counsellor Sara Martin, call 0413 742 076 or email me at sara.martin@lifesensecounselling.com.au

Book an Appointment Today

 

References

Mindful.org, Sept 2019      

Adrienne A. Taren, Peter J. Gianaros, Carol M. Greco, Emily K. Lindsay, April Fairgrieve, Kirk Warren Brown, Rhonda K. Rosen, Jennifer L. Ferris, Erica Julson, Anna L. Marsland, James K. Bursley, Jared Ramsburg, and J. David Creswell (2015). Mindfulness meditation training alters stress-related amygdala resting state functional connectivity: a randomized controlled trial. Social, Cognitive, Affective Neuroscience, 2015 Dec; 10(12): 1758–1768. 

Published online 2015 Jun 5. doi

NCBI

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