What Does Mindfulness Do For The Brain? (SCIENCE-BACKED Evidence!)

– Hey guys. In today’s video, I’m going
to be answering the question, What does mindfulness do for the brain? This brain science stuff is
what really helped me understand the power of mindfulness
and mindfulness meditation and is what actually finally convinced me to really make this a
priority in my own life. And to be totally honest,
the word “mindfulness” has never really resonated with me. When I hear the word
“mindfulness,” my initial reaction is kind of like, “Don’t
tell me to be mindful.” I find it kind of rude
and kind of like judgy to tell somebody that they
need to learn mindfulness. I feel like there needs
to be a different way to describe mindfulness in
a way that is more welcoming for those who could
really benefit from it, so that they would be
more open to exploring it, because mindfulness techniques
really are super powerful, but I also don’t want people to feel like I’m being condescending by saying, “Hey, you should read up on mindfulness.” So, that’s why I created
this video to talk about the science of
mindfulness, what mindfulness is, and what mindfulness can
actually do for your brain. Most of us were not taught
about any of this in school, at least I wasn’t when I was in school, so I’d actually love to know. Were you taught about
mindfulness in school? Yes? No? Let me know. And drop it in the comments. So my perception is that there’s just a total
lack of common awareness around what is the mind? What are emotions? What does this all mean? Trust me, I have gone
down that rabbit hole. In fact I’m probably
living in that rabbit hole right now. But before we dive into all the benefits that mindfulness does for the brain let’s define what mindfulness actually is. Mindfulness is the practice of focusing your attention directly
on the present moment in a non-judgy way. So focusing your attention immediately on whatever you might be
feeling, experiencing, or doing. And so even if you’re
feeling anxious or stressed or bad or upset about something it’s like taking a step back and being the third party
observer of yourself and of your thoughts and of your feelings. And just being able to really
detach yourself from it. And just not judge yourself
for whatever you’re feeling or whatever might be happening around you. If we want a more
dictionary like definition, mindfulness is maintaining
a moment by moment awareness of your thoughts, feelings,
sensations in the body and surrounding environment
through a gentle, nurturing lens. So basically this is about being
aware of the present moment without getting wrapped
up in thinking too much about the past or the future. And also just about being nice to yourself and having compassion for yourself and not beating yourself up for stuff. There are a few key things that mindfulness does for the brain. One it makes the younger. Two, it shrinks the part of the brain that controls anxiety and fear. And three it makes the
brain more resilient to PTSD and depression. It’s important to know that your brain actually changes and adapts over time. And this concept is
called neuroplasticity. So your brain is actually changing all throughout your life. Depending on what you do,
the way that you think, what you’re learning. Which means that you can
actually train your brain to change. And so we can think of certain emotions that you experience a lot of
and you can actually start to look at those emotions
as skills that your brain has developed. And this goes for
emotions and bad emotions. So if you’re somebody that feels happy most of the time, that’s because your brain has become very accustomed
to feeling happy. And it gives you that response. If you feel anxious a lot, it’s because your brain has become skilled at giving
you that anxious response. And so it’s really important
to have this understanding because when you know this
is how the brain works you can have confidence when you’re practicing mindfulness and knowing that when
you practice mindfulness you’re actually training your brain to be more calm, relaxed, and stress free. The first really cool
thing that mindfulness does for the brain and this is so awesome, it actually makes your brain younger. And if we wanna be all scientific. It increases gray matter
in the frontal cortex. So there’s a neuroscientist
named Sara Lazar or Sara Lazar, I’m actually not really sure
how you pronounce her name but she did a study where she compared the brains of experienced meditators who had at least seven to
nine years of experience and she compared their
brains to people who were new at meditating. And the study found that
the experienced meditators had more gray matter
in their frontal cortex which is the part of the brain which is responsible for
thinking, decision making, and memory. Now, the interesting thing here is that gray matter in the frontal cortex tends to shrink with age which is why people who are older, usually don’t have as great
of a memory as they used to but, Sara Lazar’s study found, that the brains of people
who were 50 years old who practiced mindfulness meditation, they had the same amount of gray matter in their frontal cortex as people who were just 25 years old. So this shows that their
cognitive abilities were the same as someone who
was literally half their age. Which is freaking amazing. The same study proved
that even just practicing eight weeks of mindfulness meditation actually changed people’s
brains for the better. So you don’t actually
even have to be doing this for very long to start
experiencing positive changes in your brain. The second amazing thing that mindfulness does for the brain is that it shrinks the brain’s
center of anxiety and fear which is the amygdala. The amygdala is the part of the brain that controls fear, stress, and anxiety and research shows that when
you practice mindfulness that the amygdala actually
becomes smaller over time. The amygdala is known as the
brain’s fight of flight center and is where emotions like
fear and anxiety stem from. We actually have two amygdala, one on each side of the brain. And they’re located in
the region of the brain called the limbic system which is the center of our behavioral and emotional responses. Especially when it comes
to things for survival. Like the fight or flight response. And in Sara Lazar’s study, this reduction in the size of the amygdala this shrinkage of the
amygdala actually resulted in reduced stress levels in
participants of the study. So when you routinely practice mindfulness you’re actually shrinking your amygdala which means that you
won’t have such a negative emotional reaction. So I think it’s super cool
that practicing mindfulness means that you actually
won’t experience as much anxiety, fear or stress or anger. Which I think it’s fair to say that these are all emotions that we rather would just not experience a ton of in our every day lives. The third amazing thing that mindfulness does for the brain is it makes the brain more
resilient to PTSD and depression. And scientifically it does
this by increasing gray matter in the hippocampus. Now, just like there are
two amygdala in the brain, there are all also two hippocampus. One on each side of the brain. And the hippocampus is
the part of the brain that’s responsible for
creating new memories. Without the ability to make new memories, you become stuck living in
old memories of the past inside your mind. So if you have a small hippocampus, you are more susceptible
to PTSD and depression because you’re not able to
make new memories as easily which results in you just
reliving old memories from the past and if those
memories are traumatic, sad, stressful, depressing,
that is how you can begin to experience depression or
post traumatic stress disorder. So by practicing mindfulness
you are literally increasing the size of your hippocampus. Thereby increasing your
capacity to make new memories. And when you can create new memories those can overpower any old
negative memories of the past. And you can instead move
forward in your life focusing on the good things
instead of having to relive any old traumatic or
depressing experiences. So if you want to learn
more about mindfulness check out my other videos over here where I talk more about mindfulness and how it can improve your life if you enjoyed this video make
sure to hit that like button. Click subscribe, and also click the
notification bell down below. So that you’re the first notified every time I upload a new video. Remember you can transform
your mind and your life. I believe in you and I’ll
see you in the next one.

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