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Inspired living

Discover how mindfulness changes the brain


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Mindfulness is the buzz word of the times and we all want to be “mindful”. It makes sense that living in an engaged, thoughtful way is a better way to live but it adds impetus living mindfully when a study comes along showing that mindfulness also changes your biology for the better.

The new study involved adults who were job-seeking and therefore under a degree of stress. The subjects were split into two groups. One group received either an intensive three day mindfulness retreat meditation program while the other undertook a well-matched relaxation retreat program that did not include mindfulness.

Before and after the three-day program all subjects had a five-minute resting brain scan. Blood samples were also taken before and after the program and then again four months later.

The results showed that mindfulness meditation increased the “functional connectivity” within the default network of the subject’s brains, in areas related to attention and executive control (the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex). Additionally, mindfulness reduced levels a molecule called IL-6 (interleukin-6) indicating that inflammation was reduced.

None of these changes were present in brains of people who undertook relaxation and it indicates that mindfulness meditation helps increase the brain’s resilience to stress. With improvise stress resilience comes a range of beneficial health outcomes.

Everyone benefits from mindfulness but if you are going through a stressful time then mindfulness meditation will be of particular benefit.



 

Terry Robson

Terry Robson is the Editor-in-Chief of WellBeing and the Editor of EatWell.