A surge of scientific research on Mindfulness in the last decade is proving what practitioners have known for hundreds of years. Meditation is good for you.
Here's some recent summaries of exciting studies.
Mindfulness Meditation Training Lowers Biomarkers of Stress Response in Anxiety Disorder
Mindfulness meditation, the practice of paying more attention to the present moment, helps lower stress hormones and decreases inflammation in the body, scientists have proven for the first time. Scientists in the US have shown that an eight week course of mindfulness, involving daily classes can help lower inflammatory molecules and stress hormones by around 15 per cent. The therapy was shown to work better than non-meditation stress management course. More details of the study here.
Mindful Attention Modulates the Link Between Motivation and Behavior
Behaviors occur as responses to emotional triggers and their associated thought patterns. Basically we feel something, make some sense of it, and act. This can all happen unconsciously and contribute to deeply engrained patterns of behavior . Highly rewarding stimuli like sex and junk food can often leave people engaging in unhealthy behaviors. A study found with mindful attention there was more ability to control behavior. More details of the study here.
Mindfulness Training Reduces Pain More than Relaxation Meditation or Placebo via Distinct Neural Correlation
There is extensive evidence demonstrating that Mindfulness meditation reduces feelings of pain. A 2015 study by Zeidan et al. demonstrated that these effects were higher than in response to relaxation meditation or a placebo ointment. The neural mechanisms were also distinct. Mindfulness meditation was associated with increased activation in the orbitofrontal, anterior cingulate, and insular cortices, regions associated with cognitive appraisal and emotion regulation. More details of the study here.