Recently Peter Malinowski featured on the BBC, providing the scientific background for understanding the beneficial effects of mindfulness practices.
He put TV presenter Michael Moseley through his paces, investigating the strength of his concentration and his non-judging emotion skills during mindfulness practice. In brief, Michael (and his brain) passed the test with flying colours.
“Trust me I’m a doctor” with TV presenter Michael Moseley is the leading health science programme of BBC Two, regularly attracting millions of viewers. In the third episode of series five Michael asked the question whether to give mindfulness a go. For this Peter designed an experiment that tested Michael’s distractibility during rest and while practicing mindfulness. Also, Michael was shown gruesome and most pleasant pictures, again during rest and while in a mindful state. At the same time Michael’s brain activity was recorded with EEG (electroencephalography).
Michael’s brain produced textbook results. Clearly, brain processes related to the automatic elaboration of distraction were diminished during mindfulness and the emotional brain response to the rather pleasant and unpleasant images were also strongly reduced while being mindful. Indeed, they were not different to the brain response to neutral pictures.
In a subsequent interview, Willem Kuyken, Director of the Oxford Mindfulness Centre, summarised the evidence that mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT), where mindfulness practice is combined with a therapeutic approach, can reduce the reoccurrence of depression and may hold promise for the treatment of anxiety and insomnia.