fountains in front of a lake
Mental Health, Motivational

Slowing Down

tired

Most of us spend our waking lives up in our own internal world. We over-think and, like overdoing anything, over-thinking tends to have negative consequences. In the case of constant mental meanderings, the risk is that they will lead to a negative spiral of indecisiveness, self-loathing depression and insomnia. One way to counter this is to make yourself more mindful.”

Dr Michael Mosley – The Clever Guts Diet

Can Mindfulness Meditation Improve Your Mood?

Dr Michael Mosley, famous for his documentaries on the human body, was examining the role of diet and gut health on the body. He wanted to objectively measure what effects, if any, mindfulness practice would have, on his brain. So he underwent a series of tests before embarking on beginning mindfulness techniques.

The studies showed he had cerebral asymmetry, which meant he displayed greater activity on the right side of their frontal cortex, than on the left. This indicated he was pessimistic by nature. Pessimistic people are prone to high levels of neuroticism and anxiety.

Evaluation of Mindfulness Techniques on the Brain

Following the testing, Michael Mosley practised mindful meditation for six weeks, mainly via an app. Like many busy people, he found excuses not to complete the practise: he was too busy, too tired, too hungry, too stressed. Practising along with his wife and incorporating mindfulness into everyday activities, such as having coffee, worked with a hectic lifestyle.

After six weeks of mindfulness practice, an Oxford University Professor re-tested Dr Mosley to find his brain showed an improved balance between the right and left hemispheres, accompanied by a sharp reduction in negative thoughts and emotions.

Beneficial Effects of Mindfulness on Physical and Mental Health

Overwhelmed with insomnia and an incurable autoimmune disease, Australian journalist Shannon Harvey spent a year practising mindful meditation as a way to assist her own mental health and improve an auto-immune illness.

emotion, despair, sad, worry, anxiety

[Shannon] looked for the equivalent of a 30-minute workout for her mental wellbeing, [and] there was nothing. Worried for the future mental health of her kids who were growing up amidst epidemics of stress, anxiety, depression and addiction, in a world-first experiment, Shannon recruited a team of scientists to put mindful meditation to the test. 

My Year of Living Mindfully

Shannon Harvey documented how she experienced astounding changes over the course of the year practising mindfulness, despite having some serious misgivings and scepticism about its techniques.

Why Does Mindfulness have a Calming Effect?

Dr Michael Mosley believes that mindfulness works to calm the mind and body because it helps to strengthen your sense of control over your own thoughts and feelings.

Not only does mindfulness assist in learning to distance ourselves and let go of repetitive troubling thoughts; it also encourages a mind that remains focused in the ‘present moment’, thereby reducing anxiety and overwhelming emotions that stem from reflecting on the past or stressing over the future.

Mindfulness Techniques Improving Mental Health

In a study published by the journal, “Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience,” 15 volunteers completed four sets of 20-minute classes of mindfulness. Brain scans have found that mindfulness reduced anxiety ratings by 39%. They also found that it increased activity in the areas of the brain that control worrying, [….]which supports the claim that mindfulness strengthens our ability to ignore negative thoughts and feelings.

Dr Michael Mosley

Feel Calmer in Ten Minutes of Meditation

Do you have ten minutes? Try it for yourself now!

Mindful Meditation Practice

12 thoughts on “Slowing Down”

  1. VERY GOOD, Amanda ! – I enjoyed that a lot.
    I’ve saved the URL of the little video, and will use it again.
    A post very worthy of your blog’s purpose, my friend.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Whoa! I am not used to such home grown flattery, M-R, but am very grateful that you find it useful. Shannon Harvey’s film is illuminating too, if you can see the whole thing. You should try an experiment of your own.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I find meditation stressful😂just can’t relax in that way at all, I did yoga for a few months, and the exercise was fine but the meditation part at the end wasn’t for me

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is not for everyone Tanja. Do you find it difficult to relax? Watch your breathing? Is it stemming from your upper chest or emanating from your abdomen?

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        1. My daughter finds meditation the same and uses TV shows or poetry something she can immerse herself in. It is all about what works for you, but I would cousel you to not give up on meditation, there are many teachers out there advocating a technique that may not sit right with you. Shannon Harvey, in the film I mentioned, hates meditation still! She persisted with it for about 10 months before she felt a real benefit for it. Whilst she is a big advocate for it, she still doesn’t like to do it! For her it is like an intense workout at the gym. She feels better for it, but doesn’t look forward to the practice. Interesting.

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  3. As far as I am concerned meditation is probably the best, most effectuate and safest natural medicine in dealing with both mind and body. But there are many ways to practice it and methinks each one of us should look try and ‘buy’ what feels like ‘own’ !.By nature I seem to have been born to be ‘all over the place’ . . . . delightful but wearing on both body and mind. After an unexpected breast cancer discovered almost too late and amidst one of the most difficult times in my life, I knew I wanted no pills or potions but a more natural way. I discovered Dr Deepak Chopra, an esteemed US specialist cardiologist who had taken up mind-body medicine. He had a mellifluous voice and wonderfully relaxing Indian leaning relaxation and meditation tapes. Suddenly I always found the 3/4 hour 3-4 times a week to draw the curtains, lie on the sofa and wander into dreamland. That was many, many moons ago . . .I have never wandered but always ‘found’ myself to be SO much more balanced, reasonable and absolutely relaxed at the end . . .Yes, I do listen to other well-trained minds and play a lot of string and woodwind classical music during the day . . . but, for me, this leads to as perfect balance as I know to get . . . to each their own . . .

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    1. I am so glad to hear you found a guiding spirit in Deepak Chopra. Some forms of meditation suit more than others. I enjoy them all. Breathing techniques I feel are central to its success in relaxing the body and mind.

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    1. Why not give it a go, Lisa. I think there is a subtle difference between mindful meditation and transcendental mediatition – on what one focuses on, but it matters not. Try the one that is easiest for you to access. I am thinking of adding a video of the seashore and using that as a prompt to meditate. It can be two minutes, ten minutes or 20 minutes a day, depending on what suits your lifestyle. I think you have to try it for a whole month but the best part is that with any amount of meditation you will feel more relaxed, centred and more than likely calmer. The people who feel agitation are most likely breathing in the upper parts of their chest, rather than using the diaphragm to deepen the breath. This makes all the difference. Please do try it and let me know how you go.

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