The Intersection of Mental Health and Mindfullness – Meditation has traditionally been related to Eastern mysticism but science is starting to show that cultivating a “heightened” state of consciousness may have a major impact on your brain, the way our bodies function and our degrees of resilience.
Clinicians are increasingly looking for effective, preventative, non-pharmacological options to deal with mental illness. And meditation techniques – for example quietening the mind, understanding the self and working out control – show promise alternatively tool to regulate emotions, disposition and stress.
Meditation influences one’s body in unexpected ways. Experienced meditators, as an example, can speed or slow their metabolism by in excess of 60% and raise their body temperature by up to 8°C.
Even a little lessons in meditation can make people more calm, less stressed and more tranquil. As little as 20 minutes every day leads to physical changes, for example reduced blood pressure, lower heartrate, deeper and calmer breathing. Improvements in blood pressure due to meditation have also been associated with a lower risk of center attack.
Meditation is also starting to prove effective as a therapy for chronic and acute pain. One experiment showed that 4 days of mindfulness meditation substantially reduced the participant’s experience of unpleasantness and the intensity of these pain.
Mind, brain and further than
Meditation increases left-sided, frontal human brain activity, an area of serotonin levels associated with positive mood. Oddly enough, this increase in left-brain activity can also be linked with improvements in body’s defence mechanism activity. And the more an individual practise meditation, the greater your immune function might be.
Studies have shown that long-term meditators include increased volumes of grey matter from the right orbito-frontal cortex and hippocampus regions of their brain which are responsible for regulating emotion. Similar changes are also found in non-meditators who accomplished an eight-week course in mindfulness education.
So even a limited stint of meditation has got the potential to change the structure from the brain.
The cortex in the human brain usually thins as we age – a variety of atrophy related to dementia. Intriguingly, a poor meditated around an hour every day for six years display improved cortical thickness. Older meditators also show reduced age-related decline in cortical thickness when compared to non-meditators of the same era.
Meditation may increase longevity by protecting serotonin levels and heart from the harmful effects of stress. One study reported that meditation and yoga help to prevent cellular damage caused through chronic psychological stress. It provides even been suggested that yoga may slow cellular aging.
The causes and effects of emotional experience exist over the body and the brain, and therefore they are deeply linked to be able to physical and psychological stress.
Deep breathing enhances positive emotions and disposition, and appears to make people less liable to the stresses and upsets of existence. Research shows that meditators usually are better at regulating immediate responses to negative stimuli and still have reduced activity in the amygdala – a part implicated in response to danger. These findings reflect greater emotional resilience among meditators along with less psychological distress and nervousness.
Mindfulness, which can be developed through meditation, is just one technique that can increase mental wellbeing. Several therapeutic techniques have been dependant on these practices, such as mindfulness-based stress reduction and mindfulness-based cognitive treatments. These treatments have had good results in treating anxiety and disposition disorders.
Next steps in research
Research has shown us of which meditation improves our mood, reduces the body’s reply to stress and, over time, alters the structure from the brain.
Our team at the College or university of Sydney is attempting to fill some of the gaps in our knowledge of how meditation acts on the mind and the body to be able to calm emotional reactions. We’re currently investigating the end results of meditation on brain and also body function during emotional provocation, for example viewing disturbing photographic images.
You should better understand the effects connected with short, intensive periods of meditation in brain and body functions related to regulation of emotional responses. We are also examining the genetic factors that can help determine what types of men and women benefit most from meditation education.
If we can demonstrate this efficacy of intensive meditation in emotion regulation, and characterise individuals who will benefit most, we may have established a significant role pertaining to meditation in improving mental and also physical health.