How Does Mindfulness Practice Change The Brain?

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Mindfulness and mindfulness based stress reduction are helpful therapy and treatment methods for mental health disorders and substance use disorders. Creating a sense of calm and a tranquil foundation aids in emotional regulating reducing cravings, and managing stress.

Benefits Of Mindfulness Through The Brain

Reducing symptoms of stress is the primary benefit of mindfulness based practices. Depression, anxiety, cravings for drugs and alcohol- symptoms from all of these mental health issues can be found rooted in stress. According to The Big Thing, in one study conducted on the brains of long time meditators during meditation and when they’re not meditating, there is a key difference in areas of the brain associated with stress. Stress comes from the human “fight or flight” response to threats, which produces the hormones of adrenaline and cortisol. The amygdala is where stress primarily lives in the brain. After an 8 week mindfulness course, the amygdala shrinks, as it is shown through MRI imaging.

Another benefit of mindfulness based practices is clarity, the ability to focus, make better decisions, and have more awareness in daily life. The practice of noticing and paying attention are an integral part of mindfulness. The MRI imaging found that the prefrontal cortex region of the brain becomes thicker, compared to the shrinking amygdala, after mindfulness practice. Awareness, such as the awareness built during mindfulness practice, as well as decision making and other “higher” brain functions, live in the prefrontal cortex.

Blazing New Neural Trails

One of the interesting things found in the study, The Big Think writes, is that there are some developments of dualism which indicate the brain changing its relationships. For example, there was more activity in pain-sensing areas of the brain. However,people who meditate reported feeling less pain. “This demonstrates the capacity of meditation to create new neural connections and change how different regions relate to one another,” the article writes. What’s more fascinating is that over time, the brain stops shifting. The benefits achieved through meditation become the “norm” for the brain.

Avalon By The Sea knows that the power of the mind can be harvested and used for good in recovery. Our dual diagnosis treatment program is certified to treat both mental health disorders or substance use disorders as primary conditions. For a confidential assessment, call us today at 1 888-958-7511.

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