Mindfulness & the brain
The brain is the organ that learns. Its structure, from the cellular to the regional level, changes in response to both fleeting mental events (such as thoughts and emotions) and our moment-to-moment interactions with the world.
The property which allows for learning, adapting, and changing, has been dubbed neuroplasticity, and it is the foundation on which mindfulness is built.
By directing our conscious attention, we can cultivate ways of being and perceiving that lead to well-being and happiness, while un-learning habits that are harmful or unsatisfying.
Advances in techniques and imaging technology have allowed researchers to study how mindfulness effects the size and function of various structures within the brain. The results are nothing short of astonishing.
Mindfulness has been shown to encourage growth of structures of the brain associated cognitive flexibility, compassion, concentration, emotional intelligence and regulation, empathy, goal setting, planning, and problem solving, while diminishing areas associated with anxiety, emotional reactivity, fear, and feelings of isolation.
Amazingly, the structure of the brain can begin to change after as little as 1.5 hours of practice.