Mindfulness meditation is a skill that is worth honing. As with most any skill, it takes practice. When we practice, we hone the skill of inclining our mind toward a relaxed responsiveness and ease. This ease facilitates a physiological "relaxation response" which is associated with an increase in certain neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine and GABA, leading to a state where blood pressure, heart rate, digestive functioning, and hormonal levels return to homeostasis and balance.
The benefits of a consistent mindfulness meditation practice include strengthening the ability to "put our lid back on" even when our nervous system is over-stimulated, regain access to our higher reasoning and memory centres of the brain in times of stress, to be "our own boss" and make better choices. Interestingly, imaging studies have shown that after only eight weeks of mindfulness meditation practice, the size of the prefrontal cortex (reasoning) actually increases and the size of the amygdala (fight & flight activator) decreases.
In addition to the stress response, there is another ancient pathway of our brains, the “negativity bias”, for which mindfulness meditation can help serve as countermeasure. In the name of survival, our brain’s memory is primed to remember negative emotions and experiences more than positive ones. This is why the current global situation is overloading most of our minds, and why insults that may have been thrown at us decades ago can be recalled and felt so vividly. We have inherited over the millennia this hard-wiring to be sensitive to negative stimuli in order to learn to avoid adversity in the future. Research studies have borne out our tendency toward negativity bias. Although this can be very helpful at times, it can be an obstacle to us seeing what we are capable of, to being able to focus on what we need to do in stressful times, and to realising that we have all we need within us to deal with all that life serves up, so it breeds a constant state of ill-ease.
In mindfulness meditation practice, we purposefully cultivate positive mind states such as generosity, gratitude, and loving-kindness -- these are all are great antidotes to the negativity bias. We also activate the Vagus Nerve in our sessions via our unique 7 energy centre meditation practice, and this is one of the best ways to boost our natural immunity.
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