Mindfulness is a form of meditation that meets the needs of today. Originally, meditation actually meant cultivating one’s mind and familiarising oneself with one’s own inner spiritual processes. The actual meditation techniques, however, differ considerably.
Mindfulness invites us to perceive that there is a natural tendency in all of us to react automatically to experiences. It encourages us to explore how we should react rather than out of habit. Mindfulness practice teaches us to see things clearly and to simplify decision making.
The following describes how the MBSR Mindfulness Training according to Jon Kabat-Zinn works
The training known as “Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction” (MBSR) was designed originally by Prof. Jon Kabat-Zinn to help people suffering from chronic physical diseases. Today it is also used to prevent stress-related illnesses and generally to support a more conscious and fulfilled life. MBSR is based on the principles of Buddhism, but differs from the traditional meditation methods in its basic ideological neutrality, in that it is devoid of religious and ritual components.
The following outlines some of the many advantages of regular mindfulness practice which have already been researched:
- Stress reduction.Many studies illustrate that practicing mindfulness reduces stress. Researchers found that participants who experienced mindfulness-based stress reduction had significantly less anxiety, depression and somatic ailment than those participating in the control group. Research published in 2013 in the journal “Health Psychology” even stated that mindfulness meditation reduces the release of the stress hormone cortisol.
- Positive changes in the brain. According to a 2005 study, those who meditated conscientiously for 40 minutes a day have a thicker cortical wall (cerebral cortex) than non-meditating test subjects. Cortical thickness is associated with a slower aging process of the brain, which improves decision making, increases attention spans and memory.
- More creative thinking. Scientists have illustrated that Mindfulness meditation helps the brain control emotions. People who meditate therby help their brains to find a way to more creative thinking. As long as we are emotionally unbalanced or unhappy, our brain is busy processing these emotions in our limbic system. The capacity for creative, strategic and visionary thinking that is processed in the neocortex is then paralyzed and is only available in the case of positive emotions.
- Effective against depression. At the beginning of 2014, scientists were able to prove that mindfulness meditation is just as effective against depression and anxiety disorders as cognitive behavioural therapy.
- Positive effects on chronic pain. Meditation with focused attention can reduce pain intensity by up to 40 percent. Brain scans of study subjects showed that the regions of the brain which process pain were almost dormant during meditation. Morphine and other painkillers usually relieve pain by about 25 percent.
- Better sleep. According to a study by the University of Utah, people who meditate can sleep better at night. Mindful meditation frees the mind from all the thoughts and distractions that so often prevent us from falling asleep.
- More satisfaction in personal relationships. Several studies show that a person’s ability to be mindful can help them respond well to relationship stress. Research evidence suggests that mindfulness protects against the emotional impact of relationship conflict and is positively associated with the ability to express oneself in various social situations and predict a contented relationship.