Studies of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) are taking off, with the recent addition of a study to be published in Neuroimaging today.  Will more people be nudged to meditate if they can measure and visualize the impact on their physical and emotional well-being in increasingly compelling ways?

Here is an accessible description of the research from Friday’s New York Times titled “How Meditation May Change the Brain” by Sindya Bhanoo:

The researchers report that those who meditated for about 30 minutes a day for eight weeks had measurable changes in gray-matter density in parts of the brain associated with memory, sense of self, empathy and stress. The findings will appear in the Jan. 30 issue of Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging.

M.R.I. brain scans taken before and after the participants’ meditation regimen found increased gray matter in the hippocampus, an area important for learning and memory. The images also showed a reduction of gray matter in the amygdala, a region connected to anxiety and stress. A control group that did not practice meditation showed no such changes.

____________________________________

Note:  Also posted on the IFTF blog, FutureNow

Advertisements

As my colleagues at Institute for the Future have forecasted, more & more people–particularly in North America–are beginning to track, quantify, and visualize data about themselves–from simple pedometers to track fitness, to complex genetic code to monitor chronic conditions and health probabilities.  One of the clearest expressions of this movement is the Quantified Self.

Some of the most exciting developments of this Quantified Self movement come when you consider a mashup of Quantified Self and neuroscience with tools like fMRI technology.  Are we on the way to beginning to quantify faith and its impact on our health?  The connection between physical health and spiritual practices has long been proven, and most recently featured in the popular PBS series, This Emotional Life.

Soon, we’ll be able to see the affect of meditation and faith community connections on our mental, emotional and physical health in a way that we never have before.  By 2020, quantifying faith will become increasingly possible, and this new potential has the potential to catalyze better health outcomes, as well as serve as a driver of growth and revitalization of faith communities.

Some questions immediately arise.  When you can quantify your faith…

  • How much more frequently will you perform your spiritual practices?
  • How likely are you to share about your faith with others, especially if you had discomfort with evangelism before?
  • What products, services, or tools will you use to measure your faith?
  • How will you monitor the feedback loops between your faith, health, emotions, and relationships?
  • With whom will you share your quantified faith data? What is that data worth to you?