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Sep 192013

Years ago I was taught how to meditate by a guy I was dating and I did it faithfully for many years. I got pretty good at it, but as time went on I did less and less of it, and when I was under extreme stress, I did even less.

Recently, though I have started this practice again after reading some medical research on how mindfulness meditation changes the actual brain itself, helps reduce pain, stress, depression, anxiety and other painful emotions.

Previous research has shown that mindfulness meditation could have a positive effect on the brain by decreasing the density of the grey matter in the brain’s amygdala, which is a brain region known for its role in stress. That study was conducted by Massachusetts General Hospital researchers and published in the journal Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging in 2011.


The study included PTSD patients recruited from a VA outpatient clinic. Some of them were put in groups that underwent the eight-week mindfulness-based cognitive therapy treatment program, while the others received typical PTSD treatment. Their symptoms were measured before and after the eight-week treatment regimens. The mindfulness-based cognitive therapy included learning how to do mindfulness meditation (focus on emotions and breath), “body scanning” (focusing attention on individual body parts) and mindful eating.
By the end of the regimens, researchers found that more people who underwent the mindfulness therapy had improvements in PTSD symptoms than those who just underwent the standard PTSD treatment — 73 percent, versus 33 percent.

While mediation has been a practice of several different religious groups, such as the Buddhists, meditation does not have to be a part of any religious practices, but can be totally secular in nature.

There are many articles and books written on how to practice meditation and mindfulness  but it is actually very simple. Sitting relaxed in a chair or lying down, you focus your attention on the sensations of your breathing. Just breathe in and out and focus on the physical feeling of your breath coming into and out of your body. If a stray thought about something else comes into your mind, don’t try to force it away, just let it “flow on through” and go back to focusing on your breathing.

Since it is difficult for me to turn off my “internal diaglog” or the thoughts and the constant “talking” we do inside our head, as I breathe I say “One” on the first in breath and the word “and” and then the next breath in I say to myself “two” and then and and so on until I reach four and, then I start over. This helps to keep me from having “stray” thoughts, but when they do creep in, I just let them float on through and refocus my mind on my breathing.

Even ten minutes a day has been shown to help memory, calm stress and decrease depression.

There are many books, CDs and tapes that you can buy that will help guide you to work on mediation that meets your specific needs. I highly recommend mediation and intend to continue to practice this very easy and helpful practice. Since I have been practicing mediation again, my stress level has decreased remarkably, my depression decreased and my sense of peace and happiness has greatly increased. I no longer live in fear of the future, but focus more on the moment I am in. I also don’t live in the past either, so being in the “now” is a healthy alternative to stressing myself out over things I can’t change.





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  9 Responses to “Healing our minds Mindful meditation

  1. Good for YOU!!!

    Yoga and/or Tai Chi are also good for this. Yoga has many variables and you can work on strength, balance, flexibility and even weight loss. As an added benifit, you end up feeling calm, relaxed and even recharged- ready to go. Yoga sessions often end with lying on the mat, relaxed and just taking a few moments to let things go, let the relaxation in and being at peace with yourself. Very theraputic on so manny levels.

    One thing I have to remember often when doing the balance poses is to “Quiet your mind”. when you focus on your breathing and let everything else go- the balance seems to come on it’s own.

  2. Phoenix, yoga and Tai chi are actually FORMS of mindful meditation, so yes, they also help decrease stress and depression as well. ANYTHING along this line is helpful, and I highly recommend that people who are stressed, anxious, depressed ACTIVELY engage in any number of these behaviors. It has worked wonders for my state of mind and when I start to feel stressed or anxious I increase the time I am meditating. It is VERY simple, and VERY effective as well…and no bad side effects and you can’t beat that for a healthy way to heal.

  3. And the best part about it? It is easy, portable and it’s all completely FREE! Nothing to buy or lug around, move, clean or store when not in use… How much better can it get?

  4. Joyce, I still struggle with anxiety meltdowns, and mindfulness meditation is one of those techniques that helps to interrupt that dreadful cycle.

    It’s a daily challenge, I have to say. But, along with the painful recovery processes comes things that are calming and can be 100% peaceful, healing, and very spiritual. There’s the discomfort of facing down my own personal issues that “allowed” me to be such an easy target for “bad people,” and there’s the peace and tranquility of mindful meditation. Being mindful is not only good for my soul, but it’s good for my physical awareness, as well.

    EXCELLENT article, Joyce!

  5. Well, Truthy you know how much I believe in the healing power of meditation. The DOUBLE BLIND MEDICAL CENTER RESEARCH using MRIs to measure brains before and after an 8 week course in meditation absolutely proves objectively that it WORKS. One researcher studied the minds of monks who spend 20+ hours a day meditating and the research was fascinating to say the least. And Hey, it is FREE like Phoenix said and portable and doesn’t take up the middle of the living room floor. LOL

    We are left prone to anxiety after the trauma because we no longer feel safe or that we can trust ourselves to keep us safe…so the meditation helps with that too. Keep it up and be patient!

  6. Here’s an article I found today about mindfulness in our every day lives, not just “meditating”


  7. I found a really good article in the Huff Post today about the differences between judging and being JUDGMENTAL…when we “judge” a person’s actions as good or bad, mean or nice, we are not being Judgmental.


    Another link, with more links within it is https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/a-doctor-puts-his-mind-to-mindfulness/2015/10/19/d191fc48-57c3-11e5-8bb1-b488d231bba2_story.html

    Meditation does help us, but we must NOT confuse judging with being judgmental….big differences.

  8. I got to thinking about DEPRESSION today and went over in my mind, the signs that someone is depressed…SOCIAL WITH DRAWL is one of the signs. Where we do not want to be around others. a GLOOMY outlook is another symptom, and SLEEP DISRUPTIONS, either sleeping too little or too much, WEIGHT CHANGES, FATIGUE, BRAIN FOG and even ANXIETY….sometimes we can recognize these symptoms in others before we can recognize them in ourselves. Others may recognize them in us as well before we can acknowledge that we ARE DEPRESSED.

    DENIAL of things we don’t want to face may be the only defense we have against acknowledging and admitting that we are depressed. Even then sometimes the depression saps our energy until we have little or no strength to actually DO something, like seeing our doctor or a therapist.

    Depression is many times a result of grief for losing something, be it a death to a loved one or a betrayal by a loved one. Grief changes our brain’s chemistry, as does PTSD and the stress hormones we get from either depression or the grief or trauma can actually change the brain’s ability to function. Stress hormones may help us to run from a bear or fight that bear but long term rather than short term, those hormones are actually TOXIC to our brain and actually kill cells.

    Recognizing depression in ourselves and those we love is a big part of the healing journeys in life.

    If you or someone you love is showing these symptoms, then take action ASAP.

  9. Meditating is wonderful. I found a program via Facebook that I use to meditate. Meditation helps the stress to melt away.

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