With advancements in technology and brain scanning equipment, scientists can now observe what happens to our brain when we meditate.
Mindfulness has its origins in ancient meditation practices (ones that are over 2,500 years old) - it’s been around a while! Recently, scientists have started investigating the effects of mindfulness and found some amazing results.
We now know mindfulness can reduce stress, anxiety and worry. It can also improve our creativity, concentration and academic performance as well as help us better manage our strong emotions and have better relationships with others.
Sooooo many benefits, right?
Regular meditation = less stress + more positive emotion.
Whilst mindfulness doesn’t magically relieve us of our worries and problems, it can help us respond to situations in a calmer, clearer and more grounded way – a way that benefits our heart, mind and body.
A body of research is quickly growing in this area with significant discoveries revealing meditation physically changes our brain structure in ways that help us to be less stressed and happier.
In one study, an eight-week mindfulness program was found to reduce the reactivity of the amygdala - the brains ‘fear center’, and increase activity in the prefrontal cortex - the bit that helps regulate emotions .
Mindfulness vs. mindlessness.
When we're mindful we're deliberately paying attention to what we are doing. This state encourages us to be more aware of our thoughts, emotions and behavior and has been found to actually switch on different parts of our brain.
By contrast, mindlessness is mindfulness' opposite – it can be described as not paying deliberate attention to our thoughts, our actions and our emotions. Basically, our brain is on ‘auto pilot’. This is unconsciousness. This is when we act out of habit rather than what the moment may ACTUALLY call for.
In this state we're not tuned in to what is happening around us or what we are doing - not really. This can be unhelpful because it means we're vulnerable to getting caught up in thoughts, worries and judgements and this can leave us feeling pretty down and stressed .
I'm not sure if it's for me...
Have you ever been so caught up in a game, a conversation or creating something that your only focus is that one thing? Have you ever been so completely absorbed by the present moment that you lose track of time? Or have you stopped in your tracks because something has been so breathtaking that you no longer have any stress or anxiety about the past or the future? If so, you have experienced mindfulness.
We all experience this way of being at times – when exercising, playing music, being in nature, engaging in hobbies and spending time with loved ones. In these moments we feel engaged, present, connected and at peace. Mindfulness and meditation enables you to spend more of your time feeling this way - they are incredibly powerful practices that have the potential to positively affect your life.
We encourage you to explore further. We don't think you'll regret it.
This expanding shape has the power to connect you to the present moment - in this case, it's your breath.
Try syncing your breathing for a couple of minutes.
How do you feel?