Mindfulness Meditation in Practice: The Neurobiology of Mindfulness

calm beachMindfulnessmindfulness meditation, or even meditation are all terms that are thrown around a lot in the media. But what is mindfulness meditation?

Mindfulness meditation describes a concept that involves concentration, being aware of the present moment, and an overall transformation in how we use our minds.

Mindfulness meditation practices are being incorporated into all aspects of life. Schools, chronic pain treatment programs, even the military is utilizing mindfulness meditation as a way of calming the body, decreasing stress, and strengthening the brain. Mindfulness techniques like Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy are among the most widely implemented forms of mind-body medicine.

Why the sudden interest in mindfulness meditation? In addition to being a deep spiritual tradition, mindfulness meditation also seems to be effective in treating many physical and mental health conditions. Where before we only had anecdotal evidence of mindfulness’s health effects, we now have scientific findings that support the benefits the brain can receive in mindfulness meditation practice.

New findings have shown:

  • A little over an hour of meditation training can dramatically reduce both the experience of pain and pain-related brain activation. (Zeidan, Journal of Neuroscience)
  • Increases in mindfulness correlated with reductions in burnout and total mood disturbance, as well as increased stress resilience. (Krasner, JAMA).
  • Participants who received mindfulness training showed a 42% decrease in the frequency and severity of primary IBS symptoms. (G. Andersson, Behavior Research and Therapy)
  • Mindfulness meditation is affecting brain activity. Brain waves associated with integration increase during compassion meditation. When meditating, brain scans found increased activity in the following areas of the brain: insula, termporal pole/superior temporal gyrus, anterior cingulate, while the amygdala is less active. Overall, this is consistent with decreased arousal and an increased sense of well-being. (S. Lazar)
  • Meditation improves attention. (Jha et al., 2007), (Slagter 2007), (Pagnoni & Cekic 2007), (Valentine & Sweet, 1999)
  • You don’t have to be a seasoned meditator to see positive changes to your brain. New meditators who went through an 8-week meditation program saw changes in gray matter concentration in brain regions involved with learning and memory processes, emotion regulation, self-referential processing, and perspective taking. (Lazar, Psychiatry Research, 2011)

Courtesy of The National Institute for the Clinical Application of Behavioral Medicine: www.nicabm.com

For more information: www.MonarchTherapy.com ~ (239) 325-9210



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About Kimberly Rodgers, LCSW, RPT-S

Kimberly is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in the state of Florida and Registered Play Therapist-Supervisor through the Association for Play Therapy. She also supervises clinical social work interns pursuing licensure. She has worked as a psychotherapist for twelve years and holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work from the University of Georgia and Master’s Degree in Clinical Social Work from the University of Central Florida.

Her experience includes foster care, adoption, youth shelter, youth related research, school-based counseling, and sexual assault crisis center settings prior to private practice. She specializes in counseling children, families, and adults struggling with stress, anxiety, trauma, and adjustment to life transitions. Kimberly is a current Board member of the Mental Health Association of Southwest Florida and former Vice-President of the Southwest Florida chapter of the Association for Play Therapy. She is also a member of the National Association of Social Workers and EMDR International Association.

Kimberly is founder of Monarch Wellness (originally Monarch Therapy), an integrative center focused on empowering individuals and families through emotional and behavioral metamorphosis. In addition to counseling and play therapy, the center offers other supportive modalities to further enhance emotional healing and stress management including support groups, yoga, laughter yoga, breathwork, integrative relaxation, and sound therapy. Monarch Wellness' sister site eFitFamily.com offers health related information and inspiration for everyday families to live healthier every day. The center is also involved with House of Gaia community center and other community and service focused organizations. More information about Kimberly and her practice can be found online: www.MonarchWellness.net.

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