Whenever we are down and want to feel better, we always seek an outlet to release our emotions: talking to a friend or family member, or writing in the diary. “Putting our feelings into words helps us heal better. If a friend is sad and we can get them to talk about it, that probably will make them feel better.” said Matthew D. Lieberman, associate professor of psychology at the University of California – Los Angeles (UCLA) who conducted a study that reveals why expressing our feelings makes our gloominess, anger and anguish less.
The study explains that one can benefit from the ancient Buddhist teaching of “mindfullness meditation,” a technique in which an individual focuses to his present emotions, thoughts and body sensations, such as breathing, without passing judgment or reaction. A person simply releases his thoughts and “lets it go.”
David Creswell, a research scientist from the UCLA said Lieberman has now shown in a series of studies that simply labeling emotions turns down the amygdala – a region in the brain which serves as an alarm to activate a series of biological systems to protect the body in times of danger -a response in the brain that triggers negative feelings.
Creswell said.”We found the more mindful you are, the more activation you have in the right ventrolateral prefrontal cortex and the less activation you have in the amygdala. We also saw activation in widespread centers of the prefrontal cortex for people who are high in mindfulness. This suggests people who are more mindful bring all sorts of prefrontal resources to turn down the amygdala. These findings may help explain the beneficial health effects of mindfulness meditation, and suggest, for the first time, an underlying reason why mindfulness meditation programs improve mood and health.”
How is it done? Creswell said that one way to practice mindfulness meditation and paying attention to present-moment experiences is by labeling the emotions verbally. “for example, ‘I’m feeling angry right now’ or ‘I’m feeling a lot of stress right now’ or ‘this is joy’ or whatever the emotion is,” he said Creswell felt excited in the study because it brings a connection between the ancient Buddhist teachings and modern neuroscience.
“more than 2,500 years ago, [Buddha] talked about the benefits of labeling your experience. Now, for the first time since those teachings, we have shown there is actually a neurological reason for doing mindfulness meditation. Our findings are consistent with what mindfulness meditation teachers have taught for thousands of years.”
Source: Science Daily