Science has made radical discoveries that have changed our actions throughout history, especially in human health. Bloodletting, for example, was once thought to cure a plethora of ailments. More recently, research has altered our perceptions of low-fat diets and the causes of high cholesterol. Neuroscience is no different, and because we promote science-based mindfulness, we’d like to highlight some of the latest discoveries in the field.
Scientists used to believe that connections between brain nerve cells were fixed early in life and could not change in adulthood. Recent studies, however, have disproved that theory and provide evidence that practicing mindfulness changes the brain. In 2011, researchers reported that people who meditated for approximately 30 minutes each day for eight weeks showed measurable changes in gray-matter density in the sections of the brain associated with memory, empathy, stress and sense of self.
In 2013, a study led scientists in 2013 to believe that mindfulness practitioners can better control how the brain processes and filters sensations, such as pain and depression. Neuroscientists have also shown that practicing mindfulness affects the areas of the brain that control perception, body awareness, emotion regulation, complex thinking and more.
Work in 2014 pooled the data from more than 20 studies to identify eight regions of the brain that are affected by meditation. These areas are associated with self-control, the ability to learn from past experiences, emotion and memory.
While scientists continue to investigate and document the impacts of mindfulness, for some, seeing is believing—especially in this digital age. At the end of 2014, CNN anchor Anderson Cooper took part in a mindfulness workshop. This clip shows his brain waves changing immediately when he switches from thinking about something stressful and drops into meditation:
We find the evidence compelling—so compelling, in fact, that we’re devoted to sharing mindfulness in order to increase your happiness and success.
—Search Inside Yourself