Word of mindfulness meditation’s many benefits spreads more and more the longer the practice is around. For people with CDL trucking jobs and other high stress occupations, mindfulness meditation has been said to reduce stress, fend off health risks and enhance well being. But the science behind these assertions has been minimal.
Gretchen Reynolds discusses a study in the medical journal Biological Psychiatry. And the article changes the game.
“[The study] brings scientific thoroughness to mindfulness meditation and for the first time shows that, unlike a placebo, it changes the brains of ordinary people and potentially improve their health,” Reynolds writes.
To meditate mindfully demands ‘‘an open and receptive, nonjudgmental awareness of your present-moment experience,’’ says J. David Creswell, who led the study and directs the Health and Human Performance Laboratory at Carnegie Mellon University.
The study featured 35 unemployed men and women who experienced stress
They drew blood and scanned brains. Half the subjects learned formal mindfulness meditation at a residential retreat center. The rest completed a kind of sham mindfulness meditation that focused on relaxation and distracting oneself from worries and stress. ‘‘We had everyone do stretching exercises, for instance,’’ Dr. Creswell says.
While the mindfulness group was asked to tune in to the way their body felt, the relaxation group was told to ignore their bodies and chat away.
At the end of three days, the participants all told the researchers that they felt refreshed and better able to withstand the stress of unemployment. Yet follow-up brain scans showed differences in only those who underwent mindfulness meditation…. Four months later, those who had practiced mindfulness showed much lower levels in their blood of a marker of unhealthy inflammation than the relaxation group, even though few were still meditating.
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