Why does putting our feelings into words--such as talking with a therapist, counselor or coach, or even writing in a journal--help you feel better? A new brain imaging study by UCLA psychologists, as reported in Psychological Science, may give us the answer. This research combines modern neuroscience with ancient Buddhist teachings, which focus on what is known as "mindfulness" or the ability to live in the present moment without distraction.
The researchers found that when people see a photograph of an angry or fearful face, increased activity in the amygdale region of the brain occurs, which activates a series of biological systems to protect you. This process occurs at lighting speed.

What's interesting is that calling or labelling the angry face changes your brain response, according to the research study. When that happens, another region of the brain, the ventrolateral prefrontal cortex, an area associated with inhibiting behavior and processing emotions, becomes active. The researchers concluded that the simple process of thinking in words bout your emotions (labeling) has a significant benefit by decreasing the activity of the amygdale.

These findings match ancient wisdom. Mindfulness meditation, originating in Southeast Asia over 2,700 years ago, is a process by which you pay attention to present emotions, thoughts and body sensations, such as breathing, without passing judgment or reacting.

One method of practicing mindfulness meditation is to pay attention to labeling your emotions (eg: "I'm feeling angry/anxious/sad/fearful"). Doing this turns down the amygdale alarm center response that triggers negative feelings. Previous studies have shown that mindfulness meditation is effective in reducing a variety of chronic pain conditions, skin disease and stress related health conditions.

Now, neurological research supports what Buddhists teachings have described for over 2,500 years--that mindful meditation on your emotions has a significant beneficial impact on your emotional and physical well-being.

Author's Bio: 

Ray B. Williams is Co-Founder of Success IQ University and President of Ray Williams Associates, companies located in Phoenix and Vancouver, providing leadership training, personal growth and executive coaching services. www.successiqu.com