Using Mindfulness Meditation to Treat Traumatic Brain Injury
Mental disorders such as anxiety, depression, and fatigue are symptoms of traumatic brain injury and can sometimes interfere with the healing process. After a traumatic brain injury, the mind and the body struggle to work together in unison like they once did. The actions the brain tells the body to do are less efficient and slower. Mindfulness meditation can help strengthen the connection between the mind and the body.What is Mindfulness Meditation?
Mindfulness meditation is mentally focusing on being in the present moment. It teaches us to be aware of our thoughts and emotions. When the mind and body are quiet, and the attention is focused on breathing, everything else disappears. That includes our pain, anxiety, depression, and judgments. Health experts believe this is a powerful technique that can help ease stress and create neuroplasticity, the brain's ability to restructure itself by forming new neural connections throughout life.How Mindfulness Meditation Helps with the Recovery of TBI
While it is unclear how meditation affects traumatic brain injury symptoms, some research shows that mindfulness meditation positively impacts symptoms similar to traumatic brain injuries. Studies found that:
- Meditation can affect someone's ability to maintain focused attention and cognitive proficiency.
- Mindfulness practice can significantly reduce anxiety and fatigue. It can also improve memory and manage time, including making decisions, problem-solving, and organizing tasks.
- Guided meditation techniques can help with some characteristics of depression.
- Long-term meditation can improve overall mood, including the ability to accept emotional states, awareness at the moment, and the ability to handle negative emotions.
Mindfulness-based stress reduction is a group therapy program designed to treat people struggling with physical and mental illness and life's difficulties. The program was created by an American professor, Jon Kabat-Zinn, in the late 1970s. He combined a modern scientific-based viewpoint with traditional Buddhist ideologies of meditation and mindfulness and created an adaptable approach to reduce stress.
MBSR was initially developed to help hospital patients. However, it has been widely accepted and used by many people. More than 24,000 people participated in the program when it debuted in 1979.How Does MBSR work?
Being mindful means being in the present moment. While mindfulness is the fundamental mechanism that permits MBSR to work, the program's composition also plays a huge role. The program is about eight to ten weeks with 2.5-hour sessions a week and is taught in a group of 10 to 40 participants. The instructors teach exercises and topics focused on reaching mindfulness through yoga, meditation, and body scans.
- Yoga is a posture-based exercise that combines mental and physical practices.
- Meditation involves exploring your own consciousness through focused attention.
- Focus on specific body parts and experience your thoughts about the feeling and location of the body.
Someone with a traumatic brain injury to benefit from mindfulness meditation may depend on the severity and type of the brain injury. The extent of the injury and location can also impact an individual's ability to meditate.
Those with mild TBI said they have seen improvements in memory, regulation of attention, and quality of life after practicing mindfulness meditation for 10 to 12 weeks. Notably, most successful studies modified the MBSR program specifically for TBI patients by concentrating on attention skills, awareness, and embracing an open-minded attitude. Other standard meditation training might not be as successful.Future of Mindfulness Meditation on Recovery of TBI
More non-traditional treatments, such as mindfulness meditation, are being used in addition to or instead of traditional medicine. More medicine centers nationwide are opening in traditional hospitals, and more research studies are being performed. Scientists also meet with the Dalai Lama every two years at the Mind Life Conference to compare notes on how the brain works with meditation.Three-Minute Breathing Exercises
Practice this quick three-step meditation whenever necessary to make yourself aware of the present moment.
- Minute One - Awareness: Sit straight in a chair with your feet resting lightly on the floor. Close your eyes and bring your awareness to your inner experience by concentrating on what you are experiencing your feelings, and the thoughts that are going through your mind.
- Minute Two - Gathering: Focus on your breathing. Feel your belly move as the breath flows in and out. Follow the breath in and out, using the breath to position yourself in the present moment.
- Minute Three - Expanding: Breathe into your whole body so you are expanding your awareness. Experience your body as a whole. Feel your entire body rise and fall with each inhalation and exhalation as you breathe in and out.
Watch the video below for a guided mindfulness meditation session. This 15-minute video aims to heal brain trauma by taking the listeners to a place of recovery and tranquility.Contact a San Francisco Traumatic Brain Injury Attorney
Mindfulness meditation teaches us to recognize our emotions, feelings, and thoughts. Those with mild traumatic brain injuries have seen improvements after regularly practicing mindfulness meditation. If you or someone you love has suffered a TBI in an accident, please call our traumatic brain injury lawyers in San Francisco today at (415) 805-7284 or (800) 404-5400 for free, friendly, and compassionate advice.
Editor's Note: updated [cha 10.18.23] Photos: mohamed_hassan on Pixabay.com, Erik Brolin on Unsplash cha [cs 897]