A National Health Interview Survey conducted by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) discovered last year that 18 million Americans practiced meditation, and this is no surprise, as the benefits are bountiful. Meditation has been shown to reduce stress, increase concentration, encourage a healthy lifestyle, increase self-awareness and happiness, increase acceptance, slow aging and more, according to the Huffington Post. The practice consists of focusing the mind on a thought, object, or activity to achieve mental clarity and emotional calmness.
The Scientific American states that meditating regularly can change the way different regions of the brain communicate with one another – MRI scans have shown that, after an 8-week course on mindfulness practice, the brain’s “fight or flight” region, the amygdala, appears to shrink. This primal region of the brain is associated with feelings of fear and anxiety, and typically becomes active as a response to stress. Furthermore, as the amygdala shrinks, the pre-frontal cortex, associated with awareness, concentration, and decision making, becomes thicker. Thus, a person who practices mindfulness and meditation often is more easily able to accept things as they come and live in the present moment.
It is also stated that the amygdala’s connection to the rest of the brain becomes weaker with more meditation practice. People have reported feeling less pain from meditating, and research hints that it’s because individuals are able to separate the anterior cingulate cortex – associated with the unpleasant feelings of pain – with the prefrontal cortex, instead of allowing them to interact with one another.
It’s clear to see that the benefits of meditation and mindfulness aren’t just happening outside the body. Fleur Carter explained her story with mindfulness on the website, Mind Body Green. She stated:
“I felt agitated, unsettled, and completely overwhelmed, yet I had no idea why…And so I did, diligently each day I’d sit for 15 minutes and practice smiling from the inside out. I generated thoughts of loving kindness from my heart and allowed the feelings to permeate through my body…After a week, I had already noticed a shift in my state of mind: I was not as agitated and the feeling of overwhelm was slowly melting away…I would finally follow my dreams and let go of the life I had carved out for myself that was filled with other people’s ideals and a huge list of ‘shoulds’”.
Avalon Malibu is a world-renowned, California state-licensed mental health and substance abuse recovery center. We offer a variety of treatment methods, including yoga and other holistic practices such as qigong and meditation. If you are ready to seek treatment, call us today at 888-958-7511 for a consultation.