Explaining Efficacy of MBSR
Originally, mindfulness was thought to affect the fight or flight response. When a practitioner of MBSR perceives a threat, they are less likely to engage in the negative thought patterns associated with stress. Instead, they are able to perceive their circumstances without judgment, which reduces the stress experienced from worry and rumination. More recently, MBSR has been shown to affect structural changes in the brain, specifically an increase in gray matter in the hippocampus, and right anterior insula, which are involved in emotional regulation and awareness, respectively (Hölzel et al., 2011). Brain plasticity, specifically plasticity of the neural system is reflected in an increase of gray matter as well as improved functioning in performance associated with the particular brain region. Hölzel et al. (2011) found an increase in gray matter in two brain regions; one associated with the production of norephinephrine, and the other of serotonin. As is commonly known, intervening in the serotonin system has had a powerful affect on depression, anxiety, and a range of psychological issues. The norephinephrine system has been associated with modulating responses to environmental demands (Hölzel et al., 2011).
Contraindications and Cautions for MBSR
There are a few contraindications for MBSR and caution is advised for choosing a capable and legitimate instructor (Dobkin, Irving, & Amar, 2012). Participants should not attend a class if they have a medical issue or serious psychological reaction to the training. This type of training may be contraindicated for individuals with posttraumatic stress disorder and addictions. Further, it may not be suitable for severely depressed individuals (Dobkin, Irving, & Amar, 2012).
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