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Scientific benefits of Mindfulness

Currently, there are about 3,400 articles in peer-reviewed journals exploring the theory and application of Mindfulness. Evidence of its effectiveness has expanded rapidly in recent years. We present a schematic summary of what science is finding out:

Psychological resistance and flexibility:

Mindfulness can help manage stress better, increase our sense of well-being and improve resilience and psychological health. With increased attention, we can better understand the patterns of thinking, develop our emotional intelligence and foster the quality of life. Mindfulness reduces reactivity, helping us let go of useless habits and make wiser decisions. (1)

Changes in the brain:

The practice of mindfulness leads to changes in brain neuroplasticity that appear to correlate with changes reported in clinical research. Mindfulness leads to increased activity and growth of neural networks associated with self-regulation, subjective well-being and a committed approach to the world. This leads to reduced activity in brain areas associated with anxiety and stress reactivity and reducing the need of employers to seek to avoiding and dysfunctional behaviors. (2)

Relationships:

Mindfulness helps us interact with others more adequately. Studies have shown that the practice of care is associated with empathy and can lead to more fluid relationships. The more aware people feel the more connected with others, and they also tend to be more pro- social and ecological. ( 3 )

Cognitive abilities:

Investigaciones preliminares indican que la práctica del Mindfulness puede ayudar a afinar nuestro rendimiento cognitivo, con beneficios para la atención, la concentración y la memoria de trabajo. ( 4 ) Hay ya estudios prometedores que sugieren el Mindfulness también puede ayudar a la resolución de problemas ( 5 ) y la toma de decisiones flexibles, racionales y creativas. ( 6 )

Physical well-being:

Mindfulness can help us look after our health and strengthen the immune system, which speeds healing, and allows people to face a number of common diseases, such as pain, cancer, heart disease and diabetes. It also helps to regulate our nervous system, reducing stress hormones and inflammation levels. (7)

(1) De Vibe et al (2012) Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction for Improving Health, Quality of Life and Social Functioning In Adults. Also see this link Keng et al (2011) Effects of mindfulness on psychological health: A review of empirical studies, Clinical Psychology Review, Vol: 31, 6, p1041–1056

(2) Holzel et al (2011) How Does Mindfulness Meditation Work? Proposing Mechanisms Of Action From A Conceptual And Neural Perspective, Perspectives On Psychological Science 6:537

(3) Brown et al (2007) Mindfulness: Theoretical Foundations and Evidence For Its Salutary Effects, Psychological Inquiry 2007

(4) Chiesa et al (2011) Does Mindfulness training Improve Cognitive Abilities? A Systematic Review of Neuropsychological Findings, Clinical Psychology Review 31 449-464.

(5) Carlson et al (2012) Mindfulness-Based Interventions for Physical Conditions: A Narrative Review Evaluating Levels of Evidence, Psychiatry, Vol 2012

(6) Kirk et (2011) Interoception Drives Increased Rational Decision-Making in Meditators Playing the Ultimatum Game, Frontiers in Neuroscience 2011 5: 49.

(7) eg Ostafin et al (2012) “Stepping out of history: Mindfulness improves insight problem-solving, Consciousness and Cognition”, Volumen 21, Número 2, Junio 2012, p1031–1036, y Greenberg et al (2012) “Mind the Trap”: Mindfulness Practice Reduces Cognitive Rigidity, PLoS ONE 7(5)