Mindfulness Stimulates Beneficial Molecular Changes
Some people level criticisms at the practice of reciting affirmations (for hours on end), saying this doesn’t [always] bring about the results that speakers and the self-improvement books may promise. It turns out that there is good reason that positive affirmation may be inadequate for making significant (manifesting) changes.
This study indicates that significant positive effects are predictably going to be found by meditators that are following mindfulness practices. In fact, the study results indicate that attaining mindfulness is key to positive beneficial results.
“Our genes are quite dynamic in their expression and these results suggest that the calmness of our mind can actually have a potential influence on their expression,” says study author Richard J. Davidson, founder of the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds; the William James and Vilas Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
People that suffer from inflammatory conditions (rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease and asthma) probably may benefit from mindfulness meditation techniques, according to the study.
“To the best of our knowledge, this is the first paper that shows rapid alterations in gene expression within subjects associated with mindfulness meditation practice,” says Davidson.
This and related investigations strongly indicate that a mind will adjust the body’s biology to fit with beliefs. In short, these studies confirm the adage that you are what you think. Since people are typically conflicted, this may seem sometimes untrue. However, I’ll post additional studies in the future — it’s no longer a cliché.
The emphasis and focus of Davidson’s current work is on interactions between prefrontal cortex and the amygdala and on regulation of emotion in both normal subjects and patients with affective and anxiety disorders. He’s been working extensively with meditation and particularly with developing easy to use mindfulness meditation technique.
His previously successful research studies focused on cortical and subcortical substrates of emotion and affective disorders, including depression and anxiety. His works raised clamor occasionally for two reasons. First, his tenant that happiness is a skill that just about anyone can learn causes occasional stirring amongst patient groups for those that suffer from prolonged sadness. Second, he is a friend of the 14th Dalai Lama and this set off some a protest about the validity of his research. Looking into this, I am pleased to find that his work is impeccable and that outcome results are impressive.
How may this new research evidence be useful?
First, certainly, developing a practice that includes mindfulness is a positive activity. The studies demonstrate that mindfulness is linked to improved health and is useful for managing pain. Further study is warranted and its expected that continuing research may help to define how mindfulness meditation may improve outcomes for those that suffer mentally and emotionally. Additionally, new brain imaging and chemical monitoring may lead to additional findings and methods for regulating emotion and may even be useful to diminish mental health problems such as anxiety, bipolar disorder, or major depression.
From Life to Lab: Early Adversity, Brain Circuitry, and the Emergence of Well-Being (by Richard J. Davidson, Ph.D., University of Wisconsin-Madison) with my favorite happiness guru, Matthieu Ricard in some of the discussion on emotion and on meditation; factors that generally may increase or decrease well-being, happiness, authenticity, compassion, peace, and joy. The program includes a presentation (forward to 14:00 minutes) to the 14th Dalai Lama that covers how stress and conditions of adversity or abuse effect brains and how self-regulation and brain growth may develop depending on conditions during youth. Davidson speaks briefly about a Madison, WI public school initiative that teaches mindfulness meditation to school children and the positive outcomes there.
see also: The Mind and Life Institute and Mindful: taking time for what matters.
Center for Investigating Healthy Minds
- Study reveals gene expression changes with meditation
With evidence growing that meditation can have beneficial health effects, scientists have sought to understand how these practices physically affect the body.
- Study shows mindfulness training can help reduce teacher stress and burnout
Teachers who practice “mindfulness” are better able to reduce their own levels of stress and prevent burnout, according to a new study conducted by the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds (CIHM) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Waisman Center.
- Brain can be trained in compassion, study shows
Until now, little was scientifically known about the human potential to cultivate compassion – the emotional state of caring for people who are suffering in a way that motivates altruistic behavior.
- Documentary film portrays UW–Madison mindfulness research
MADISON – Groundbreaking research at the University of Wisconsin–Madison is the focus of the new documentary film, “Free the Mind,” which debuts in Madison tomorrow, May 15.
- Dalai Lama to lead ‘Change your Mind Change the World 2013’
Event organizers today announced that the Dalai Lama will visit Madison on May 15, 2013, to lead “Change your Mind Change the World 2013,” a series of panel discussions with thought leaders from a variety of fields, including neuroscience, economics and sustainability, moderated by Arianna Huffington and Daniel Goleman.
- Authors: Develop digital games to improve brain function and well-being
Neuroscientists should help to develop compelling digital games that boost brain function and improve well-being, say two professors specializing in the field in a commentary article published in the science journal Nature.
- Response and recovery in the brain may predict well-being
It has long been known that the part of the brain called the amygdala is responsible for recognition of a threat and knowing whether to fight or flee from the danger.
- Mindfulness meditation may relieve chronic inflammation
People suffering from chronic inflammatory conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease and asthma — in which psychological stress plays a major role — may benefit from mindfulness meditation techniques, according to a study by University of Wisconsin-Madison neuroscientists with the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds at the Waisman Center.
- Meditation expertise changes experience of pain
Meditation can change the way a person experiences pain, according to a new study by UW-Madison neuroscientists.
- Educational games to train middle schoolers’ attention, empathy
Two years ago, at a meeting on science and education, Richard Davidson challenged video game manufacturers to develop games that emphasize kindness and compassion instead of violence and aggression.
- A wandering mind reveals mental processes and priorities
Odds are, you’re not going to make it all the way through this article without thinking about something else.
- In new book, leading neuroscientist describes your brain on emotion
Building on more than 30 years of cutting-edge brain research, a new book by UW–Madison psychology and psychiatry professor Richard J. Davidson offers an inside look into how emotions are coded in our brains and our power to control them.
Do I live a life of faith that shows that
I know that God has a plan for me and us?
– change from within –
“This is my wonderful journey of self discovery. Love envelopes me and the gentle waves of peaceful waters and the light shine from my mind into the world around me.”
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