Being Mindful of Health

There is evidence that mindfulness can have profound healing benefits to the mind and body. Neuroscientists are now discovering more about how being mindful changes the brain, while medical researchers are analyzing the overall health benefits. A Huffington Post article discussed a growing body of published studies with compelling evidence that mindfulness is a legitimate treatment option.

For example, Harvard-affiliated researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital reported the results of an eight-week mindfulness meditation program showing measurable changes in brain regions associated with memory, sense of self, empathy, and stress. The groundbreaking study used magnetic resonance (MR) images to document the changes over time, specifically in the brain’s gray matter, providing scientific evidence for the first time.

Another study at Lund University in Sweden concluded, “group mindfulness treatment to be as effective as individual cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) in treating individuals suffering from anxiety, depression and severe stress responses.” This is important because it may offer a more affordable and convenient treatment method for a variety of disorders, that is suitable for anyone to learn and use. It also provides a tool that can be used throughout life.

Mindfulness improves physical health in a number of ways. It can help relieve stress, lower blood pressure, reduce chronic pain, improve sleep, and alleviate gastrointestinal difficulties. Mindfulness improves mental health also. In recent years, psychotherapists have turned to mindfulness meditation as an important element in the treatment of a number of problems, including depression, substance abuse, eating disorders, anxiety disorders, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.

There is more than one way to practice mindfulness, but all mindfulness techniques are a form of meditation. The basic goal is to achieve a state of alertness and focused relaxation, while paying attention to thoughts and sensations without making any judgments. Consider discussing mindful meditation with a meditation instructor as a supplemental therapy for several mental health and physical disorders.