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.
[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!