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Mindfulness Meditation Helps Cope With Stress and Anxiety

Mindfulness Meditation Helps Cope With Stress and Anxiety

by Anne Trueman on July 1, 2013 at 1:50 PM
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The world today is full of all forms of stresses - mental, physical and psychological. This surmounting anxiety and stress adversely influences your regular activities.

Meditation is a form of practicing concentration and it makes you focus on things other than worldly. It detaches you from the corporal things and takes you towards spirituality.


According to a recent US study published in the journal Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, meditation can relieve anxiety by more than 39 percent.

Prof. Fadel Zeidan, the postdoctoral research fellow in Neurobiology and Anatomy at Wake Forest Baptist and his team conducted a study to investigate the brain functions concerned with lowering anxiety and stress. The study was published in the Journal of Social Cognitive and Affective Neurosciences.

Zeidan mentioned, "Although we've known that meditation can reduce anxiety, we hadn't identified the specific brain mechanisms involved in relieving anxiety in healthy individuals. In this study, we were able to see which areas of the brain were activated and which were deactivated during meditation-related anxiety relief."

The researchers noticed that meditation-associated-stress relief is linked with the activation of two brain regions (the anterior cingulate cortex and ventromedial prefrontal cortex) involved with cognitive abilities that control and regulate other abilities and behaviors.

The scientists examined 15 healthy volunteers with normal anxiety and subjected them to four 20-minutes session of mindfulness meditation. In this technique, people are taught to concentrate on breath and body sensations and to assess the diverting thoughts and emotions.

According to the experts, "Both before and after meditation training, the study participants' brain activity was examined using a special type of imaging - arterial spin labeling magnetic resonance imaging - that is very effective at imaging brain processes, such as meditation. In addition, anxiety reports were measured before and after brain scanning."

While meditating, vibrant activity is noticed in the ventromedial prefrontal cortex, the region of the brain that controls worrying and with increasing activity in cingulated cortex (concerned with emotions and thinking), stress and anxiety decreases.

Prof. Zeidan highlighted, "Interestingly, the present findings reveal that the brain regions associated with meditation-related anxiety relief are remarkably consistent with the principles of being mindful."

The researchers said that mindfulness meditation was an effective relaxing technique where patients learn to teach their mind to concentrate on the present moment instead of worrying about past or future. This is referred as nonjudgmental awareness of moment-to moment experience.

Prof. Zeidan further said, "Mindfulness is premised on sustaining attention in the present moment and controlling the way we react to daily thoughts and feelings."

Earlier studies found that mindfulness meditation increases self-insight, intuition, morality and fear modulation, functions related with the middle prefrontal lobe area of the human brain. This type of meditation can enhance immune functioning and mitigation of psychological distress.

Reference : Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience journal 2013.

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