Meditation Improves Emotional Health

OK, perhaps it’s not all that surprising: meditation YogaWomanSilhouette-850x567tends to level our emotions–in a good way. And according to researchers at Michigan State University, it does so even for people who are not particularly “mindful,” meaning those who don’t usually enjoy a moment-by-moment awareness of one’s thoughts, feelings and sensations. A Michigan State news release reports that researchers assessed the mindfulness of 68 people, then randomly assigned some to engage in an 18-minute audio guided meditation or listen to a control presentation of how to learn a new language, before viewing negative pictures (such as a bloody corpse) while their brain activity was recorded. Here’s what they found: the people who meditated – they had varying levels of natural mindfulness – showed similar levels of “emotion regulatory” brain activity as people with high levels of natural mindfulness.  Their emotional brains recovered quickly after viewing the troubling photos, essentially keeping their negative emotions in check. The bottom line? “If you’re a naturally mindful person, and you’re walking around very aware of things, you’re good to go. You shed your emotions quickly,” said researcher Jason Moser.“If you’re not naturally mindful, then meditating can make you look like a person who walks around with a lot of mindfulness. But for people who are not naturally mindful and have never meditated, forcing oneself to be mindful ‘in the moment’ doesn’t work. You’d be better off meditating for 20 minutes.”

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