Mindfulness is all the rage right now and for good reason, the benefits of being able to be aware of yourself and your impact on others are great. Mindfulness has a lot in common with metacognition insofar that it provokes self-awareness and the more you practice it the better you get at it. If you haven’t tried mindful thinking then maybe this newest research will motivate you. It turns out that mindful people experience less pain than people who don’t practice mindfulness.
Whole brain analyses revealed that higher dispositional mindfulness during painful heat was associated with greater deactivation of a brain region called the posterior cingulate cortex, a central neural node of the default mode network. Further, in those that reported higher pain, there was greater activation of this critically important brain region.
The study provided novel neurobiological information that showed people with higher mindfulness ratings had less activation in the central nodes (posterior cingulate cortex) of the default network and experienced less pain. Those with lower mindfulness ratings had greater activation of this part of the brain and also felt more pain, Zeidan said.
Achieving mindfulness through mediation can help you relax and even assist you in achieving a more fulfilling life. Recent fMRI studies have shown that this can be proven by looking at the brain itself; indeed, structures inside your brain tend to alter based on how much meditation one does! This is really neat stuff because it means you can change the way you think and process the world through a very simple practice!
What should the average person take away from your study?
Mindful self-awareness is a non-judgemental, present-moment awareness of body and contents of the mind. On the neural level, this form of awareness quietens regions related to inner speech, thinking about the self, and ruminating, while regions related to the perception of the body are activated. In our study we found that the neural pattern during mindful self and body awareness was stronger in less depressed, healthier individuals. Thus, mindful self-awareness seems to represent a particularly healthy mode of self-perception.
We also found – as expected – that neural activations related to mindful self-awareness were particularly strong in expert mindfulness meditators. More interestingly, we also show that when we instruct untrained participants to enter relatively short periods of mindful self-awareness in the MRI scanner, these patterns can also be seen in untrained participants.
This means, meditation training increases the ability to perceive the self in a more healthy, present-moment, body-centered way, but also that already in untrained individuals, short periods of mindful self-awareness are possible and offer the potential to enter a healthy self-perception state.
Mindfulness meditation is already pretty great, and it keeps getting better! Not only can it help you go amongst your day in a more thoughtful, productive, focussed manner, it can even help you sleep!
A six week trial of getting people who had trouble sleeping to mediate proved to help them get better rest.
Sleep disturbances are most prevalent among older adults and often go untreated. Treatment options for sleep disturbances remain limited, and there is a need for community-accessible programs that can improve sleep.
To determine the efficacy of a mind-body medicine intervention, called mindfulness meditation, to promote sleep quality in older adults with moderate sleep disturbances.
Conclusions and Relevance
The use of a community-accessible MAPs intervention resulted in improvements in sleep quality at immediate postintervention, which was superior to a highly structured SHE intervention. Formalized mindfulness-based interventions have clinical importance by possibly serving to remediate sleep problems among older adults in the short term, and this effect appears to carry over into reducing sleep-related daytime impairment that has implications for quality of life.