The mind body connection is damaged by addiction. Drugs and alcohol change the way the brain works, thereby changing the way the brain interacts with the body and ultimately hurting the body. Recovery from drug and alcohol addiction includes numerous therapies and treatments which are known to help restore the mind-body connection. Meditation and related therapeutic approaches like mindfulness based stress reduction are proven practices. Though various research studies have been able to indicate specific benefits of meditation practices, few have truly looked at the holistic “mind body connection”. Science and holistic practices often meet at ends, rather than harmony, because there is a lack of substantial research which supports holistic claims. However, a new study from the University of Hong Kong’s Centre for Buddhist Studies affirms that there is a mind body connection and meditation does help to restore it. According to lead researcher the Venerable Sik Hin Hung, “We now can say with some kind of certainty that when you’re practicing MBSR your heart and your mind become more synchronized and that’s very good for you”
The study had a small sample size of just eleven participants. Eleven graduate students participated in an 8-week MBSR (mindfulness based stress reduction) course instructing them on meditation. Researchers used EEG and ECG technology to get readings on changes to the brain while students were actively practicing MBSR techniques in addition to normal breathing, writes Newsweek. Findings revealed that the meditation practices created structural changes to the brain and help harmonize the activities of our two nervous systems, meaning that meditation practices truly do restore harmony in the mind and the body.
Meditation practices have previously been found to reduce activity in the sympathetic nervous system while creating more activity in the parasympathetic nervous system. The sympathetic nervous system is what reacts to stress and takes part in the fight or flight response which sends stress hormones throughout the body. The parasympathetic nervous system, on the other hand, calms us down, helps with our breathing, and makes us feel more grounded. This research is ground breaking in noting that meditation helps harmonize the activities of the nervous systems while creating positive structural changes to the brain, solidifying the mind-body connection restorative powers of meditation.
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