Mindfulness and Stress

Note to self – do more nothing! A resolution you just might keep…

The art (skill?) of meditation has been around for centuries; I was taught about its benefits during my professional training, and when I first worked in a psychiatric hospitals over 27 years ago it was being used as something helpful with patients. I have also been lucky enough to work with several Buddhists and be taught some of the techniques by them to cope with a very stressful job. At one point we had a regular lunchtime meditation group going which was much more ‘nourishing’ than a trip to the hospital canteen.

Research and Mindfulness

One of the most recent studies on the correct use of mindfulness techniques and meditation has found that it reduces the recurrence of acute depression by up to 50%. That is pretty large claim but NICE (National Institute for Health & Clinical Evidence, a UK organisation which recommends treatments to the NHS) has advised GPs to ‘prescribe’ it and they don’t do that lightly. It can help with all sorts of things, like hypertension and chronic pain.

What is Mindfulness?

Jon Kabat-Zinn, is one of the founders of the mindfulness research movement. He defined mindfulness as:

“paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally”.

Other definitions include:

  • an open and receptive attention to and awareness of what is occurring in the present moment
  • an awareness that arises through intentionally attending in an open, accepting, and discerning way to whatever is arising in the present moment
  • an attention that is receptive to the whole field of awareness and remains in an open state so that it can be directed to currently experienced sensations, thoughts, emotions, and memories
  • stated simply, waking up from a life-on-automatic pilot

Do Nothing

Perhaps, at this point in the New Year rushing around filling your head with resolutions and a huge to do list is not the best thing you can be doing for yourself. Maybe you need to learn to do nothing. To simply just be for a while. There is an article here which will get you started on mindful mediation, but if you simply just sit up well, not slumped,  close your eyes and focus on your breathing, and notice what is going on in your head for 5 minutes, you will be making a beginning.

And like anything worth having, it requires practise. If you can find 10 minutes every day for a week to try it out you should see some benefits. Go, on, do nothing.

If you meditate regularly I’d love to know what benefits it brings you.

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Posted on January 3rd, 2011 by

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