Today we move too fast – we are all so very busy trying to get it all done. Try as we might we may not be consciously in control of our thoughts. Our heads are filled with lists, errands, work, family and the stresses of everyday life…
As reported in (Natural News)
Image courtesy of: Wiertz Sébastien
A recent study published in Science Advances has revealed that practicing mental activities such as meditation and mindfulness training may help reduce stress levels by half. Mental training techniques have been gaining steam due in part to their apparent efficacy in decreasing a person’s stress levels and promoting key values such as attention and mindfulness or social competencies including compassion and perspective-taking.
A team of researchers at the Department of Social Neuroscience at the Max Planck Institute of Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig, Germany, has carried out the large-scale ReSource Project in order to identify the most effective mental health activity. The project makes use of three 3-month training modules, each focusing on a single discipline.
The first module has discussed mindfulness-based attention and interoception where the participants were given instructions on classical meditation techniques. The second module has focused on socio-affective competencies including compassion, gratitude and responding to difficult emotions. The third module has tacked socio-cognitive abilities such as metacognition and perspective-taking. The exercises have been carried out 30 minutes a day for six days a week. The researchers have then conducted brain scans to examine the patients’ stress levels. (Related: Stunning research finds that yoga and meditation literally “repair” your DNA to eliminate disease and depression.)
The results have shown that specific brain structures and related behavioral markers in patients have exhibited significant changes depending on the mental activity that has been practiced over the study period. According to the study, mindfulness-based attention training resulted in changes in the cortex in areas associated with attention and executive functioning. Likewise, computer-based tasks measuring executive attention were also found to improve the participants’ attention.
The research team has also observed that participants who underwent a psychosocial stress test had 51 percent reduction in stress levels. However, only two exercises that focused on social competencies have effectively reduced cortisol release following a social stress test.
“In the two social modules, focusing either on socio-affective or socio-cognitive competencies, we were able to show selective behavioral improvements with regard to compassion and perspective-taking. These changes in behavior corresponded with the degree of structural brain plasticity in specific regions in the cortex which support these capacities,” first author Sofie Valk has reported in Science Daily online.
“The current results highlight not only that crucial social competencies necessary for successful social interaction and cooperation can still be improved in healthy adults and that such mental training leads to structural brain changes and to social stress reduction, but also that different methods of mental training have differential effects on the brain, on health, and behavior.
The experts have told us that pausing several times during the day to meditate and practice mindfulness will truly allow us to live our best life. The challenge is that we don’t know HOW to do this. How can we remember to remember?
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