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How Mindfulness Practice May “Retrain” Your Brain

The concept of mindfulness is widely known in many meditation and yoga practices and describes the process of reaching the state of observing oneself without judgment in order to calm the mind.  Mindfulness is known in many spiritual practices as the highest form of meditation, but many individuals don’t know its full potential for being a powerful tool in managing several mental and physical conditions.  Over the last decade, however, studies have begun to take place that track the effect that practicing mindfulness on a regular basis has on our emotional and physical heath in the long run.  Preliminary studies suggest that the practice may actually help to reduce emotional reactivity in the brain, which may be beneficial to those with PTSD, anxiety and other mental health conditions.

In an article for the Huffington Post, author Angela Wilson, MA, RYT noted, “While mindfulness is in many ways a simple practice, its benefits are numerous.  Physically, mindfulness meditation has been shown to reduce cortisol and blood pressure, and to improve the immune system. Cognitively, mindfulness has been shown to decrease rumination and boost attention. Emotionally, mindfulness reduces emotional reactivity and improves resilience. While many of these studies are preliminary, they nonetheless begin to paint a powerful picture of the overall health benefits of mindfulness.”

Wilson goes to note that mindfulness offers the brain the opportunity to become stronger and more effective by allowing it to “exercise”, which is something that can be easily done every day for a short period of time.  Wilson said, “Mindfulness can be practiced at any time and in any situation. In every moment, we can choose to bring our attention back to the present and to know that when we do, we are actively involved in shaping our brains to foster more peace and inner ease. From this view, a touch of mindfulness practice each day becomes a tremendous investment in our physical, mental, and emotional health.”

Reference:  Mindfulness Meditation and the Brain, The Huffington Post, May 16, 2013.