There has been a great deal of research in recent years looking at how meditation affects the brain and what in fact is the neuroscience of mindful meditation.
There have now been two meta-analysis of all this research in an endeavour to distill the findings of all this research. Neuroscientist Sarah McKay has written a good summary with links to the meta-analysis.
In summary, Sarah writes
“The strongest scientific evidence to date that meditation has positive health benefits comes from two meta-analyses (analyses of data pooled from multiple studies) of meditation research. The first meta-analysis of 47 trials with 3,515 participants found that people participating in mindfulness meditation programs experienced less anxiety, depression, and pain.
The second meta-analysis of 163 studies found evidence that meditation practice is associated with reduced negative emotions and neuroticism, and the impact of meditation was comparable to the impact of behavioural treatments and psychotherapy on patients.”
It also looks like mindful meditation affects the brain regions involved in emotional regulation, attention, and self-awareness, though more research is needed. This is important because emotional regulation, attention, and self-awareness are critical to emotional intelligence, which is vital to high performance and effective leadership.
Experiencing less anxiety, depression and pain, having less negative emotion and neuroticism and being better able to regulate emotions, hold my attention where I want it and to raise my self awareness all seem like great reasons to keep practicing mindful meditation. Mindful meditation sounds like a great foundation for maintaining mental health to me.
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