Category Archives: Creative Arts Therapy

Meditation Reduces Anxiety

Scientists at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center have identified the brain functions involved in how meditation reduces anxiety.

The team wrote in the journal Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience about how they studied 15 healthy volunteers with normal levels of everyday anxiety. They said these individuals had no previous meditation experience or anxiety disorders. J0145020.JPG

The participants took four 20-minute classes to learn a technique known as mindfulness meditation. In this form of meditation, people are taught to focus on breath and body sensations and to non-judgmentally evaluate distracting thoughts and emotions.

“Although we´ve known that meditation can reduce anxiety, we hadn´t identified the specific brain mechanisms involved in relieving anxiety in healthy individuals,” said Dr. Fadel Zeidan, Ph.D., postdoctoral research fellow in neurobiology and anatomy at Wake Forest Baptist and lead author of the study. “In this study, we were able to see which areas of the brain were activated and which were deactivated during meditation-related anxiety relief.”

The researchers found that meditation reduced anxiety ratings by as much as 39 percent in the participants.

“This showed that just a few minutes of mindfulness meditation can help reduce normal everyday anxiety,” Zeidan said.

Fadel and colleagues were also able to reveal that meditation-related anxiety relief is associated with activation of the anterior cingulate cortex and ventromedial prefrontal cortex, which are areas of the brain involved with executive-level function.

“Mindfulness is premised on sustaining attention in the present moment and controlling the way we react to daily thoughts and feelings,” Zeidan said. “Interestingly, the present findings reveal that the brain regions associated with meditation-related anxiety relief are remarkably consistent with the principles of being mindful.”

MP900430798.JPGHe said the results of this neuroimaging experiment complement that body of knowledge by showing the brain mechanisms associated with meditation-related anxiety relief in healthy people.

Scientists wrote in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience in November 2012 about how meditation has lasting emotional benefits. They found that participating in an eight-week meditation training program could have measurable effects on how the brain functions, even when someone is not actively meditating. The team used two forms of meditation training and saw some differences in the response of the amygdala, which is the part of the brain known to be important for emotion.

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patterns

Creativity involves breaking out of established patterns in order to look at things in a different way. – Edward de Bono

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Rough Road/Path photos

I have been involved in facilitating groups for decades. One of the tools I use for groups of adults, teens, or children are photos. I use photos as a way for folks to become familiar and used to talking and sharing in a group. As a way to indirectly share something of themselves by talking about an image/photo. As a way to begin a conversation about larger issues or deeper issues.

One set of photos I use are Rough Road/Path photos with alcohol addicts and heroin addicts in the beginning of recovery. I spread the photos out on a table and ask the group (usually 10 to 15 men) to pick out one photo that represents their journey in the week or weeks before they came into rehab. Once everyone has chosen a photo I ask them to (one at a time) hold up the photo, describe the photo and why they chose it. The descriptions and stories they tell come from them, their experiences and begin the process of revealing a bit about their lives.