Science Of MBSR
The Science of Mindfulness. How It Works. What It Does. How It Helps
How does this work? What does this do? Prove it!
Take the origin of mindfulness practises from the Buddhist faith mix in a little yoga and pop psychology, a spot of sufism, some tree huggers poetry and roll it out across the world as an accepted and validated way to physical and mental health. Good luck with that!
But this in essence is exactly what has been achieved since 1979 when Jon Kabat-Zinn founded the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program at the University of Massachusetts to treat the chronically ill. This program sparked the application of mindfulness ideas and practices in Medicine for the treatment of a variety of conditions in both healthy and unhealthy people.
So from the most humble of beginnings has now evolved, for good or bad, massive academic and medical industries. Millions of dollars invested and to be made from the scientific gravy train. Your goal, rather unwittingly I suspect, will be from naivity to find the good guys, not the bad.
This page will illustrate some of the perspectives that science, academia and medicine have 'grown' in their study of mindfulness practises.
For science and medicine to be 'allowed' to work with mindfulness,evidence-based theories of the how, what and why, have to meet peer approval to be qualified and quantified. In essence, if I say something does this or that I have to prove it. I have to show, with evidence, that others can repeat in a re-run of my methodology that my theory can be shown to present in outcomes for many people.
So ten things that mindfulness practises can help achieve are as follows:
- Shift In Perception The practise of mindfulness leads to a change in how individuals respond and relate to thoughts, feelings and external stimuli. The ability to 'put distance' between origin and response helps an individual to consider the development of what may be more helpful alternative interpretations. To see that there are other ways they may consider something and the new viewpoints they are building, helps by opening the means of allowing something distressing or painful to be seen as an observable phenomena.
- Body and Situational Awareness Perception, role and value are just three definitions of the new ways of looking at and working with the physical body that mindfulness practise evolves. Similarly, greater situational awareness can also lead to a range of benefits, such as improvements in decision-making competency, risk evaluation and task performance.
- Non-attachment Approaching this one by asking how attachment feels and what it brings can be a helful and simple beginning. Mindfulness may lead to a liquifying of fixed concepts be they of deas, concepts, objects, possessions, circumstances, situations and experiences. Where fixation may impair or limitlessening of attachment may lead to healing and repair.
- Changes in Brain Functioning Brain imaging studies indicate that mindfulness practice results in neurological changes in various areas of the brain, such as the anterior cingulate cortex, insula, and default mode network structures. The changes lead to new processing of information and a balancing of emotions.
- Acceptance An individual’s ability to be content with the circumstances in which they find themselves.
- Increase Spirituality An increase of spiritual awareness can help buffer against challenges and foster resilience. An aspect that is adding to the individuals broadening of perspective.
- Emotion Regulation To accurately identify and label. This increased ability to monitor one’s emotions and thoughts not only makes it easier for individuals to attend to unhelpful emotional or cognitive processes, but can also improve their interpersonal and relationship skills.
- Reduced Biological and Psychological Arousal: Conscious breathing or breath awareness is an important part of mindfulness practice and has been shown to increase output in a primary cranial nerve known as the vagus nerve (that extends from the brainstem to the abdomen). This results in a reduction of both the heart and breathing rate, which helps to foster calm and relaxation as well as improve a person’s ability to cope with stressful situations.
- Regulating Attention Attention skills that attention remains focussed on a particular aspect of current experience whist remaining aware and open to what else might be occurring. Greater attention regulation in this context can foster benefits ranging from better task performance to arresting ruminative thought patterns as part of overcoming mental health problems.
- Letting Go Coming and going. Mindfulness can help to cultivate a greater understanding of the transient or impermanent nature of phenomena. To come to an understanding of what this means and practising with it as a skill is very powerful.
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