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4 Ways Mindfulness Will Help You

by Michael Teh

We are living in a time where uncertainties are constantly enveloping our minds where it has brought stress, anxiety and depression upon us. Having that said, despite the adversaries that we are facing, we must rise above them, and one key essential method is to learn and practice mindfulness into our lives. Read on further to find out 5 ways of how practising mindfulness may help you in these troubled times.

“A Standford University research team has found that mindfulness meditation has been shown to help people with social anxiety disorder as it brought changes to the brain regions that are involved in attention, as well as relief from symptoms of social anxiety.”

We are living in a time where uncertainties are constantly enveloping our minds where it has brought stress, anxiety and depression upon us. Having that said, despite the adversaries that we are facing, we must rise above them, and one key essential method is to learn and practice mindfulness into our lives.

Mindfulness is often talked about a lot today, as it is a therapeutic technique that focusses on the present while acknowledging and accepting our thoughts, feelings and bodily sensation. At the same time, meditation and yoga are often associated with the practice of mindfulness.

Here are 4 ways mindfulness can help you:

1.Mindfulness Reduces Stress

Many people have started meditating as it helps to reduce stress and there have been many evidence and studies to support this claim. That said, there is also a whole new sub-genre of meditation called, Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, which was developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn of the University of Massachusetts’ Centre for Mindfulness, with aims to reduce a person’s stress level, physically and mentally.

Meanwhile, research has also shown that mindfulness meditation, can reduce anxiety. A Standford University research team has found that mindfulness meditation has been shown to help people with social anxiety disorder as it brought changes to the brain regions that are involved in attention, as well as relief from symptoms of social anxiety.

 

2.Mindfulness Rewires the Brain

Do you know that mindfulness meditation has the capability to rewire our brain? Based on a study conducted by Sara Lazar and her team at Harvard University found that mindfulness meditation can actually change the structure of the brain. Through MRI scans, it was found that it increased cortical thickness in the hippocampus, which governs both learning and memory. Meanwhile, people who meditate for 30 minutes a day had the same effect in certain areas of the brain that play roles in emotion regulation and self-referential processing.

In addition, the study showed that meditation led to decrease in brain cell volume in the amygdala which is responsible for fear, anxiety and stress. And based on a follow-up study by Lazar’s team found that after meditation training, changes in the brain areas linked to mood and arousal were also connected to improvement in how participants in the study felt.

 

3.Mindfulness Can Be Practiced Anywhere

You do not need to sit in a quiet corner for hours to keep your mind “blank” when you meditate. In fact, there are many different forms of meditation where most of which don’t require specialized equipment or space. So, you can start practicing easily and if you want to start meditating, try to choose a form of meditation based on what you want to get out of it.

Here are two common ways to meditate:

1.Focussed-Attention Meditation

This method concentrates attention on a single object, thought, sound or visualization. It focussed on ridding the mind of distractions. This meditation may focus on breathing, a mantra or calming sound.

2.Open-Monitoring Meditation

Meanwhile for this style, it encourages broadened awareness of all aspects of our environment, train of thoughts, and sense of self. It may also include becoming aware of suppressed thoughts, feelings or impulses.

3.Mindfulness Improves Health

Mindfulness does improve our physical health as well as it helps to reduce strain on the heart. A research at Harvard Medical School found that meditation has the capability to control blood pressure by relaxing the nerve signals that coordinate heart function, blood vessel tension and the ‘fight-or-flight’ response which increases alertness in stressful situation.

Additionally, a pilot study conducted by researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Centre suggested that the positive brain changes associated with mindful meditation like stress reduction may be the answer for slowing the progression of age-related cognitive disorders which include Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

 

Credit: Femina

Michael Teh, 11th July 2021.