Repost: Five to Thrive: 5 Ways Mindfulness Meditation Leads To Greater Well-Being

This blog post originally appeared on THRIVE GLOBAL

Here are five digestible bytes of well-regarded facts, opinions, and ideas about mindfulness meditation’s ability to lead to greater well-being!

1. Reframe the Experience of Pain:

Mindfulness meditation’s ability to provide pain relief can be done by cultivating the ability to parse between the objective sensory dimension of pain and the more subjective judgement that we attach to the pain and the way that we interpret it mentally.

Read More: How the Brain Can Change Your Experience of Pain

2. Boost the Immune System:

A recent and groundbreaking review looked at 20 randomized control trials examining the effects of mindfulness meditation on the immune system. In reviewing the research, the authors found that mindfulness meditation “Reduced markers of inflammation, high levels of which are often correlated with decreased immune functioning and disease.”

Mindfulness meditation also increased the number of CD-4 cells, which are the immune system’s helper cells involved in destroying infections. There was also increased telomerase activity which helps promote the stability of chromosomes and prevent their deterioration (telomerase deterioration leads to cancer and premature aging).

Read More: Train Your Brain to Boost Your Immune System

3. With the Processing of Trauma:

Deregulation of the brain areas associated with emotional regulation and memory are key contributors to the symptoms associated with PTSD. In addition, an over-activity in the brain’s fear center, the amygdala, can be found in those suffering from Trauma-related disorders. Mindfulness reverses these patterns by increasing prefrontal and hippocampal activity, and toning down the amygdala.

In fact, brain scans confirm that mindfulness meditation is correlated with an increase in gray matter in the hippocampus, a decrease of gray matter in the amygdala, and neuroimaging studies have found that mindfulness meditation also helps to activate the Pre-frontal Cortex.

Read More: The Science of Trauma, Mindfulness, and PTSD

4. Reduce Anxiety:

Dr. Elizabeth Hoge, a psychiatrist at the Center for Anxiety and Traumatic Stress Disorders at Massachusetts General Hospital and an assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, says that mindfulness meditation makes perfect sense for treating anxiety. “People with anxiety have a problem dealing with distracting thoughts that have too much power,” she explains. “They can’t distinguish between a problem-solving thought and a nagging worry that has no benefit.” Mindfulness meditation cultivates the ability to be more discerning. Subsequently, we can use the opportunity to take action on the problem solving, and to see the worry without judgment and more compassion.

Read More: Mindfulness meditation may ease anxiety, mental stress

5. Create Space for Less Reactivity and Stress:

In every situation, we can choose to REACT from a place of fear and perhaps anger, or RESPOND more mindfully.

Reacting is a reflexive, and sometimes impulsive, way to behave in a situation. It’s not adaptive and often leads to increased stress and tension. In contrast, responding is a more mindful approach to any given situation. But in order to respond in lieu of reacting, we need to STOP:

  • Stop.
  • Take a breath.
  • Observe.
  • Proceed (more mindfully).

Just ONE extra moment to take a step back, regroup, and consider a healthier response can make a huge difference.

Read More: How To Achieve Mindful Living? Just Mind The Gap!

The bottom line seems to be that mindfulness meditation can help us live our best lives.

What’s your experience with mindfulness meditation? Have you noticed any of these benefits? I would love to hear your thoughts, comments, experiences, feedback, and questions!

Let’s THRIVE, together!

Hi, my name is Dr. Jennifer Wolkin, and I am a licensed clinical psychologist, writer, speaker and professor. I specialize in both health and neuro psychology and my passion is the pursuit of holistic wellness; mind, body, brain, spirit! Learn more about my training and experience.