Over the past few decades, meditation has gained in popularity, owing to its many benefits to both mind and body. One of the most prominent of these benefits is stress reduction. We can all get caught up in the day-to-day struggles of life, so having a regular practice to help naturally reduce stress is a very big plus. Recently, studies have been able to show just exactly how meditation works, giving further support to the effectiveness of the practice.
Researchers from Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center conducted a study in which 15 people with normal day-to-day stress levels were given meditation training. The participants were given brain scans both before and after the training. With the added benefit of meditation, the subjects’ anxiety levels decreased a full 39 percent. But that’s not all. It was also shown that the meditation affected certain regions of the brain; particularly, the anterior cingulate cortex (tied to thinking and emotions), and the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (tied to worrying).
Once the link was made between certain brain regions and the practice of mindfulness, researchers began to question the specifics of the connection. One such theory is that the findings “provide evidence that mindfulness meditation attenuates anxiety through mechanisms involved in the regulation of self-referential thought processes.”
The study, published in the journal Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, backs up claims that serious practitioners have been making for years. Fadel Zeidan, one of the researchers involved in the study, describes mindfulness as “sustaining attention in the present moment and controlling the way we react to daily thoughts and feelings.” Being mindful of our thoughts, it turns out, can alter the functioning of our brain.
Findings like these, with a firm basis in science, can only help to further promote the practice of mindfulness meditation in our culture. And this, it would seem, is beneficial to us all.
Read the full article here: How Does Meditation Reduce Anxiety at a Neural Level?
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