There is growing evidence that everyday changes to our lives can alter our brains and change how they work. Melissa Hogenboom, a science journalist, decided to investigate this by undergoing a six-week brain-altering course. Through mindfulness exercises, she aimed to strengthen crucial connections in her brain and improve her mental health.
Mindfulness has been shown to have numerous benefits, including enhancing cognitive functions, improving attention, relieving pain, and reducing stress. It can also change the brain by reducing levels of the stress hormone cortisol and preserving neuroplasticity. Neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to adapt and evolve over time in structure and function, and it plays a role in delaying or preventing degenerative brain diseases.
Melissa practiced guided mindfulness meditation for 30 minutes a day and had weekly meditation sessions with a professor of clinical psychology. She was encouraged to be aware of the present moment, pay attention to her thoughts, and be mindful in daily activities.
While Melissa’s stress levels were generally low, she still experienced benefits from the mindfulness exercises. She noticed her mind often wandered and quickly shifted from thought to thought, which helped her understand the importance of revealing the workings of her own mind and letting go of constant busyness.
Overall, this experiment suggests that mindfulness can have a measurable effect on the brain and mental well-being. It is a simple but powerful technique that anyone can incorporate into their daily lives to enhance brain health and manage stress.
– BBC (source article)