The public’s perception of mindfulness and more specifically, the practice of meditation, has evolved greatly during the past few decades. In the past, these topics were often viewed as fringe curiosities with metaphysical connotations. But today they’re mainstream topics worthy of scientific study.

A 2018 article in The Harvard Gazette proves this point: During 1995 to 1997, there was just one randomized controlled trial investigating mindfulness. But during 2013 to 2015, that number jumped to 216.

While mindfulness meditation has been cited anecdotally for treating depression, managing pain and increasing concentration, what does the science reveal about its capacity to increase our resilience?

Although these studies explored various areas of impact, several stand out as we consider mindful meditation as a potential tool for increasing resilience.

For example, a study at the Harvard Medical School used MRI scans to detect changes in brain activity. After practicing meditation for just two months, the subjects’ brain scans revealed that their amygdala was significantly less active. The amygdala is the brain’s traffic cop, which governs our fear response, also known as our fight, flight or freeze response.

Perhaps most significant, this study also showed that the amygdala’s lower level of activity was detected not only during meditation sessions, but also while the subjects were performing their everyday activities. This suggests that the changes in the brain persist beyond meditation itself.

In another study, a neuroscientist found that long-term meditators have a significantly increased ability to produce gamma waves in the brain. These waves are typically produced during brief periods when our brains are functioning at their greatest level of harmony. In these studies, gamma waves increased several hundred percent, and, in the most experienced meditators, the gamma wave was found to be their dominant state of mind.

A study at Yale University found that mindfulness meditation produced measurable decreases in the default mode network of the brain. This is the part of the brain that produces our wandering, jittery thoughts, sometimes called “monkey mind.”

So, whether you’re interested in mindfulness meditation for its health benefits or as a tool for increasing your concentration, the picture provided by emerging science is clear: Mindfulness meditation can make you more resilient in the face of life’s stresses.