Meditation often helps us in our daily pursuits. With as much stress as we deal with on our daily lives, it’s fair to say that meditation is a necessary action we need to engage in. So, does meditation really make that difference? If you ask a person considered an expert in meditation, they will say yes. Meditation is one of those actions that can’t really be seen so it can’t be qualified as any sort of treatment but there is something to be said for it according to diagnostic brain imaging.
There was a study conducted that showed that individuals that participate in mindful meditation for even a short period of time show changes in specific brain mechanisms. The changes shown in the study are in correlation with a reduction in anxiety. Meditation is not a fad, nor is it a theory that when practiced may or may not make a difference when put into practice. While meditation itself is not something that everyone practices, it’s obviously a beneficial practice.
Fazel Seidan PhD said the following: “what we’ve been able to do is to correlate, through imaging, changes in specific brain regions that are related to anxiety, even in a cohort of people with no anxiety or depression.” According to an article about the study, there were 15 healthy volunteers used, without a history of anxiety or depression. MRIs were performed before and after training sessions where the volunteers engaged in mindful meditation exercises.
An article published on www.medscape.com stated that “the MRIs showed anxiety relief to be associated with activation of the anterior cingulate cortex and ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC), which show decreases in activity when anxiety is present.” This type of discovery will certainly serve as a major point in the debate for using diagnostic imaging for the purpose of diagnosing and treating mental illness. While these studies employ a small amount of population sampling, and have only been conducted over a limited period, they do show a possible improvement on the horizon in terms of treating mental illness overall.
The study has been met with a truthful statement from Dr. Amit Sood from the Mayo Clinic. Dr. Sood stated that while meditation does make a difference, the ultimate difference is made by the patient’s ability to make meditation a habit as opposed to something that was done a few times for an experiment. Meditation will not likely be used as a cure all but the discovery of its positive effects is certainly a step in the right direction, much like the use of imaging in the study.
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