The Benefits of Mindfulness: The Neuroscience
All MWFO trainings are designed to achieve results in 3 key areas indicated by the latest research:
- Improved focus, self-awareness and attention control
- Greater stress-resiliency and ability to regulate difficult emotions
- Enhanced empathy and compassion
"Multiple scientific studies have demonstrated effects of mindfulness on wellbeing, as well as effects of mindfulness on brain function and brain structure. The neuroscience community accepts these facts. There is no debate surrounding the potential for mindfulness to deliver positive benefits for individuals and organisations.” - Dr. Bechara Saab
Dr. Bechara Saab. PhD. Neuroscientist.
“How do we know whether or not practicing mindfulness has any effect? What is the most compelling neuroscience? These are important questions to discuss because it is still not widely appreciated in the general public that multiple scientific studies have demonstrated effects of mindfulness on wellbeing, as well as effects of mindfulness on brain function and brain structure. However, the neuroscience community accepts these facts. There is no debate surrounding the potential for mindfulness to deliver positive benefits for individuals and organisations.
Multiple meta-analyses identify positive effects of classical mindfulness training courses, and my own published research has even shown benefits to stress resilience and attentional control from mindfulness training with an app. Moreover, fMRI experiments show changes to brain areas important for focus, introspection, compassion, empathy and emotional regulation.
For example, a fairly simplistic, but still accurate way to summarise brain changes related to mindfulness based stress resilience, is the heightened ability for our prefrontal cortex to regulate subcortical regions. The prefrontal cortex is where we maintain our "executive control" and "working memory". Think "top of mind". Our ability to regulate our emotions is intimately linked to our ability to recruit our prefrontal cortex for the regulation of the subcortical nuclei that produce our deepest emotional responses. Mindfulness training, particularly the four stage repetition of 1) focusing, 2) losing focus, 3) noticing we have lost focus and 4) accepting this loss of focus before returning our attention to the meditation, gives our brains an opportunity to practice, over and over, the precise prefrontal cortical regulation of subcortical regions that is necessary to avoid a negative emotional spiral or brain freeze in the face of intense stress.
While surely a simplistic and incomplete explanation, the process just described does illustrate a major method for building resilience at the level of our neural circuits - all as a result of mindfulness training.
Of course mindfulness training is in fact much more than establishing stress resilience. The abundance of research on stress resilience is probably more incidental than anything else. The fact is that mindfulness mostly became scientifically accepted in the context of Jon Kabat-Zinn's work developing Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction. Had Jon decided to instead develop, let's say, something like MBEF ("mindfulness based empathy facilitation"), then the majority of today's research, including fMRI studies, might instead demonstrate how mindfulness training leads to elevated brain activity in regions critical for empathic processing. Similarly, had MBEF been Jon's initial focus, then the majority of the associated psychological research might instead focus on the effects of mindfulness of human relationships."
Dr. Bechara Saab. Phd. Neuroscientist Mobio Interactive, CEO & Chief Scientist, facilitator, mentor and consultant for Mindfulness Works For Organisations
Further Benefits Of Mindfulness
- Better mental health of staff
- Better work-life balance
- Healthier cultures in organisations
- Higher degrees of creativity and innovation
- Stronger levels of personal responsibility and leadership
- Less stress and worry
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A selection of client feedback for Mindfulness Works For Organisations
The Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand strongly endorses mindfulness as a useful way to improve positive mental health and resilience. We recommend Stephen Archer (MWFO) as an experienced mindfulness practitioner.
Hugh Norriss, Director of Policy & Development
Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand
Stephen (MWFO) is a terrific teacher – insightful, patient and inspiring. I truly believe that the practice of mindfulness is completely relevant in a work setting – busy people in the workplace, especially those charged with leading teams or solving thorny problems (and that would be all of us!) need to find a way to bring the signal to noise ratio into balance. Mindfulness helps mightily with this, and will encourage you to bring a sense of ease into your interactions with people and in the way you seek solutions or insight.
State Services Commission
We have used the services of Stephen Archer (MWFO) to help us to develop our Wellness Programme and Policy at Air New Zealand Cargo. During the period of programme development and in conducting training of our workforce, I have found Stephen Archer to be knowledgeable and professional in his approach to the subject of wellness and workplace stress. Stephen has presented to two target audiences, namely half day sessions for managers and 90 minute sessions for shop floor employees, both of which have been well received.
Rick Knight, Cargo Occupational Safety & Health Advisor
Air New Zealand
Jon (MWFO) provided two Mindfulness sessions to some of our staff, as part of QLD Mental Health Week. These sessions received unanimously positive feedback. We are keen to get Jon back to provide mindfulness training to our Peer Support Officers in the near future. Jon was the consummate professional with a great sense of humour and unfaltering calmness – it was clear that he really practises what he preaches when he was able to improvise without a hitch when our technology wouldn’t allow him to use his laptop/PowerPoint. Thank you again Jon for your time, knowledge and expertise.
Pip Walker, Psychologist/Senior Human Services Officer
Queensland Police Service
I have engaged Jon Unal (MWFO) on a number of occasions to facilitate mindfulness sessions in a corporate environment. Our teams have always enjoyed the sessions and have benefited both personally and professionally. Jon has successfully tailored his sessions with the audience in mind. I would highly recommend Jon to anyone looking to bring mindfulness into the workplace.
HR Business Partner, Sanofi Consumer Healthcare
Jon (MWFO) delivered a combined presentation and workshop for our Bachelors and Masters students as part of a subject. The presentation fitted right into the topic with an extensive insight into mindfulness. After his presentation the classroom dynamics changed. Students become more focused, more sensitive to discussion topics and more compassionate with each other while interacting in classroom activities. Jon’s presentation was incredibly informative and entertaining with easy-to-digest yet thought-provoking material. He is really engaging with different age groups and finds the voice with people from all different ethnic backgrounds. Mindfulness is a missing concept in education. It should be taught and practiced on a daily basis by students and teaching professionals. Looking forward to Jon’s next seminar!