Mindfulness meditation, which is an essential part of Buddhist and Indian Yoga traditions, is now entering mainstream due to its effectiveness in combating stress and improving quality of life.
According to the research conducted by Britta Holzel, mindfulness meditation can have benefits for health and performance, including improved immune function, reduced blood pressure, and enhanced cognitive function.
By using a framework approach to understand the mechanisms of mindfulness, Holzel and her co-authors point out that what we think of as mindfulness is a multi-faceted mental practice that encompasses several mechanisms rather than being a single skill.
The authors of the study specifically identify four key components of mindfulness that may account for its effects: attention regulation, body awareness, emotion regulation, and sense of self.
Together, these components help in attending to and dealing with the mental and physiological effects of stress in ways that are non-judgmental.
Holzel says that although these components are theoretically distinct, they are closely intertwined and understanding the relationships between these components, and the brain mechanisms that underlie them, will allow clinicians to better tailor mindfulness interventions for their patients.
The study has been published in the latest issue of Perspectives on Psychological Science.