Evidence for Mindfulness

An explanation

What Exactly is Mindfulness?

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Mindfulness is a meditation-based approach to living that helps us get more out of every day. Though rooted in ancient meditation traditions that are thousands of years old, Mindfulness has also been the subject of many recent studies that show its effectiveness in promoting wellbeing and alleviating many physical and mental health problems.

Mindfulness is a natural human quality that can foster calmness, clear thinking, compassion and openheartedness. It is not about adopting new techniques or skills, but rather it’s about allowing our inner selves to flourish and allowing our latent strength and calm to emerge.

 

Mindfulness helps us to become aware of our thoughts, emotions and physical sensations without judgement, as they happen in the present moment. We can then live with a greater sense of balance and wellbeing as we become free of our reactive, habitual ways of being.

 

Mindfulness can help us live with a deeper awareness of how we use our energy and inner resources and bring out an inner focus and resilience. Modern life can be stressful, but we all have the innate ability to be present and composed. Through regular, easy-to-follow meditation practices, we can slow down and notice more of what we experience.


Research

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Numerous studies have documented the social, health and workplace benefits of Mindfulness.

Research indicates that mindfulness and mindfulness-based interventions such as MBSR can have a significant therapeutic effects for those experiencing mental health issues such as stress, anxiety, high blood pressure and depression. [Source: NCBI article]

 

A review of 114 studies found consistent improvements in mental health and wellbeing where a mindfulness-based intervention was used. [Source: Carlson L., “Mindfulness-Based Interventions for physical conditions: A narrative review evaluating levels of evidence”, International Scholarly Research Notices, 2012]

 

Indeed, Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy is now recommended in the NICE (National Institute for Clinical Excellence) guidelines for treating recurrent depression. [Source: NICE article]

Mindfulness can also alleviate physical problems such as chronic back pain [Source: Jama Journal article], and fibromyalgia [Source: NCBI article]. But it’s not only people with a specific health complaint who can benefit from mindfulness. It can help reduce stress and improve functioning and wellbeing in a whole manner of situations including in education, at work and in family or interpersonal relationships.

 

Overall, many benefits of mindfulness have been identified, including stress reduction, reduced rumination, decreased depression and anxiety, better emotion regulation, increased focus, more cognitive flexibility, and improved working memory. [Source: American Psychological Association article]

 

Neuroscience [Source: Oxford Academic] has shown that the direct experience network of the brain is more active with people who practice mindfulness. These activated brain regions include the insula, (relating to bodily sensations) and the anterior cingulate cortex (key to switching attention). What this means is that mindfulness allows you to access the parts of your mind that experience information as it comes to you in the present moment. You can then enjoy the pure sensation of being, rather than worrying about your to-do list.


Principles and Tips

From The Mindful Consultant

Create – Whatever situation we find ourselves in, we can look at what is already here and bemoan what is missing. Or we can open up to an endless array of new possibilities in the moment we are inhabiting. Through doing so we can gain freedom from conditioned thought patterns that keep us ‘in the box’, and gain access to deep insight, enabling us to soar high above, irrespective of what is presenting itself from the outside.