Humans have a natural ability to live in the present. As children, we are curious and notice even small details (like the color of a bug or a pattern in the clouds). With aging, people tend to focus less on the present moment. Instead, they process things that happened in the past or anticipate something that may occur in the future. Dwelling in the past or future can often lead to feelings of depression and anxiety.
Mindfulness meditation is a tool that helps promote well-being by training the mind to be present. It does this using moment-to-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, body sensations and environment. It is a way to counteract living life on automatic pilot and return to our natural state of curiosity and awareness.
Studies have shown mindfulness has profound mental and physical health benefits, including:
Previous research has compared people with extensive meditation experience to people who do not meditate at all. Using brain scans, researchers found the meditators’ brains had a thicker prefrontal cortex (PFC). The PFC is responsible for high-level skills such as:
The thicker PFC in meditators was significant because scientists know brain mass begins to shrink with age (known as age-related cortical decline). The practice of meditation appears to protect against this brain shrinkage.
However, you don’t need to practice mindfulness for years to see brain improvement. Researchers have documented positive brain changes after only eight weeks of meditation.
While mindfulness meditation may improve brain health, it is also very effective at reducing stress and anxiety in the present.
You can meditate wherever you are, though a quiet place is best. To start:
You can spend just one to two minutes to start, then work your way to additional time. Even 20 minutes a day can make a big difference in your life.
Visit the MARC web page to can get information about classes and events. The UCLA Mindful app is available for both iOS and Android users.
Tags: adhd, Anxiety, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, depression, Healthy Living, MARC, meditation, mental health, mindfulness, mindfulness meditation, obsessive-compulsive disorder, physical health, UCLA Mindful, UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center, Wellness