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The Science behind Mindfulness - varnamvarnam
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The Science behind Mindfulness

If you drive to work, listening to an audio book while thinking about the edits
to be done to your draft post, then you are not practicing mindfulness. The
technique by which a person becomes intentionally aware of his thoughts and
actions is an important part of Buddhist spiritual practice and is one of the
steps of
Vipassana.
Besides giving insight into impermanence and thus reducing suffering,
mindfulness practice has also been found to have health benefits resulting in
Mindfulness
based stress reduction programs
in hospitals around United States.

Neuroscience now is able to explain why mindfulness practice is able to produce
health benefits. On seeing an angry or fearful face, there is an increased
activity in a region of the brain called
amygdala
which are almond shaped bunch of neurons. This in turn activates a series of
biological systems designed to protect the body from danger. If the feeling was
labeled, for example, if you associate the word angry with an angry face, then
the activity in the amygdala reduced, but in turn increases the activity in
another part of the brain called right ventrolateral prefrontal cortex.

“We found the more mindful you are, the more activation you have in the right
ventrolateral prefrontal cortex and the less activation you have in the
amygdala,” Creswell said.“We also saw activation in widespread centers of the
prefrontal cortex for people who are high in mindfulness. This suggests people
who are more mindful bring all sorts of prefrontal resources to turn down the
amygdala. These findings may help explain the beneficial health effects of
mindfulness meditation, and suggest, for the first time, an underlying reason
why mindfulness meditation programs improve mood and health.

“The right ventrolateral prefrontal cortex can turn down the emotional
response you get when you feel angry,” he said. “This moves us forward in
beginning to understand the benefits of mindfulness meditation. For the first
time, we’re now applying scientific principles to try to understand how
mindfulness works. “This is such an exciting study because it brings together
the Buddha’s teachings — more than 2,500 years ago, he talked about the
benefits of labeling your experience — with modern neuroscience,” Creswell
said. “Now, for the first time since those teachings, we have shown there is
actually a neurological reason for doing mindfulness meditation. Our findings
are consistent with what mindfulness meditation teachers have taught for
thousands of
years.”[The
Science of Mindfulness Meditation
]

Rage
Boy’s
amygdala will be bursting out by now and unless he practices
mindfulness, his ventrolateral prefrontal cortex will shrink to the size of his
intellect.

See Also:
Buddha’s
Contribution
,
Book
Review: West of Jesus


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