"Our findings not only demonstrate that meditation improves emotional health, but that people can acquire these benefits regardless of their 'natural' ability to be mindful," said Yanli Lin, an MSU graduate student and lead investigator of the study. "It just takes some practice."
Mindfulness, a moment-by-moment awareness of one's thoughts, feelings and sensations, has gained worldwide popularity as a way to promote health and well-being. But what if someone isn't naturally mindful? Can they become so simply by trying to make mindfulness a "state of mind"? Or perhaps through a more focused, deliberate effort like meditation?
The study, conducted in Jason Moser's Clinical Psychophysiology Lab, attempted to find out. Researchers assessed 68 participants for mindfulness using a scientifically validated survey. The participants were then randomly assigned to engage in an 18-minute audio guided meditation or listen to a control presentation of how to learn a new language, before viewing negative pictures (such as a bloody corpse) while their brain activity was recorded.
The participants who meditated -- they had varying levels of natural mindfulness -- showed similar levels of "emotion regulatory" brain activity as people with high levels of natural mindfulness. In other words their emotional brains recovered quickly after viewing the troubling photos, essentially keeping their negative emotions in check.
Content Originally Published By: Science Daily