In my last post I mentioned the 3-Minute Meditation Experiment which is an experiment with mindfulness. I decided it would be good to talk a bit more about why mindfulness practices can be so useful in relation to anxiety.
Research in neuroscience has identified many areas of the brain that are related to anxiety including the amygdala (hub for incoming sensory signals and interpreting them), the hippocampus (encodes threatening events into memories), and the prefrontal cortex (helps to moderate the amygdala – emotional regulation). So if the prefrontal cortex is not effectively moderating the amygdala there is likely to be excessive anxiety and events are more likely to be interpreted as threatening and encoded in the memory as such.
Regular mindfulness practices have been shown to help re-wire these areas of the brain increasing gray-matter density in the hippocampus and thickening the cerebral cortex associated with attention and emotional integration. These changes in the brain are associated with increased feelings of calmness, less anxiety, more ability to relax.
So whatever your thoughts are about mindfulness, if you experience anxiety it might be worthwhile to run your own experiment for a couple of months. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions about how to do this.
Thoughts on mindfulness? Please share your comments!