There’s been a large amount of studies on the benefits of meditation and mindfulness, but only now are we realizing just how critical those practices can be for your mental health overall. In a new article for the New Yorker, Maria Konnikova explains the long-term effects of both:
In the mid-nineteen-seventies, the cognitive psychologist Ellen Langer noticed that elderly people who envisioned themselves as younger versions of themselves often began to feel, and even think, like they had actually become younger. Men with trouble walking quickly were playing touch football. Memories were improving and blood pressure was dropping. The mind, Langer realized, could have a strong effect on the body. That realization led her to study the Buddhist principle of mindfulness, or awareness, which she characterizes as “a heightened state of involvement and wakefulness.”
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We now know, for instance, that even brief mindfulness practice—typically, a kind of meditation that focusses on a particular aspect of the present moment, like your breath, your body, or a particular sensation—has a substantial positive effect on mental well-being and memory. It also appears to physically improve the brain, strengthening certain neural structures that are tied to heightened attention and focus, and bolstering connectivity in the brain’s default mode network, which is linked to self-monitoring and control.
Just another example of how powerful your mind can be, and a good reminder that it needs to be exercised as much as your other muscles.
Read the rest of the article here.