meditation & health

Can’t Sleep? Try meditation

Sharon Salzberg, Huffington Post: Throughout my years as a meditation teacher, I’ve encountered many students who come to meditation from a place of acute anxiety. Meditation, and mindfulness practices in general, are scientifically proven antidotes to anxiety and stress, as they are about focusing the mind on what is rather than allowing the anxiety or stress itself to take over, and lead the mind into labyrinths of self-judgment, comparison, regret and other rumination.

Contrary to popular belief, meditation doesn’t always feel relaxing in real time. When I first came to meditation when I was 18, I was experiencing a lot …

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Science and meditation: integrating a first-person experience into the scientific process

Marjorie Woollacott, Huffington Post: As a long time meditator and neuroscientist, my interest in the effect of meditation on brain function is both personal and professional. The benefits meditation has brought to my life mirror first-person accounts of other meditation practitioners–basically, a sense of greater peace and more joy.

In addition to being even-minded in the midst of life’s challenges, many meditators describe having experiences that might be called mystical–and not just in the state of meditation but also after their session of meditation has ended. Some individuals say that their …

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A gift to yourself

wildmind meditation newsLara Fielding, Huffington Post: Now that the holiday shopping is (mostly) finished, and we look to the New Year, perhaps it is a time when you may be selfish… in the best sense of the word! Building your self-awareness is the best gift you can give yourself, and ultimately to share with those you love.

Before you can know what you need, you have to know how to listen to your needs. While we tend to believe we know ourselves pretty well, the skill of self-awareness is not always intuitive. Our true authentic needs often get buried under layers of encrusted patterns of beliefs …

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Mindfulness key to dealing with holiday stress

wildmind meditation newsTom Ayers, Chronicle Herald: The holiday season can be stressful, what with office parties, gatherings of friends and family, and nearly constant reminders to shop for presents.

Mindfulness techniques, such as meditation, have proven health benefits and can help with the stress, said Simon Sherry, a practising psychologist and researcher at Dalhousie University.

But while people may believe the Christmas holidays are the most stressful time of year, studies show they are actually beneficial to people’s mental health, he said.

“There is actually a substantive body of research on the Christmas season,” he said. “It shows that Christmas has a generally positive and generally …

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The heart of meditation: letting go, letting be, receiving

wildmind meditation newsBruce Davis, Huffington Post: Many people want to learn meditation or deepen their practice but are uncertain where to turn. There are so many different styles, teachers, techniques. What to do? It is the doing which can be the problem in the first place. Meditation is undoing and coming back to the simplicity of being, the simplicity of enjoying this moment. The more complex our practice, the more we are on the periphery of the heart of meditation. Every time we practice meditation we are making a mini retreat from the world around us to realize another world within. We don’t want to fill …

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Mindfulness training helps patients with inflammatory bowel diseases

wildmind meditation newsWK Health: Training in meditation and other mindfulness-based techniques brings lasting improvements in mental health and quality of life for patients with inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), according to a study in Inflammatory Bowel Diseases, official journal of the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA). The journal is published by Wolters Kluwer.

“Our study provides support for the feasibility, acceptability, and effectiveness of a tailored mindfulness-based group intervention for patients with IBD,” concludes the research report by Dr. David Castle, a psychiatrist at St. Vincent’s Hospital, Melbourne, Australia, and colleagues. More research is needed to demonstrate the clinical benefits of mindfulness techniques–including whether they can help to reduce IBD symptoms and relapses.

Mindfulness Reduces Anxiety and Depression in IBD Patients

The researchers evaluated a mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) program tailored for patients with IBD. The study included 60 adults with IBD: Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis. The patients’ average age was 36 years, and average duration of IBD 11 years. Twenty-four patients had active disease at the time of the study.

The MBSR intervention consisted of eight weekly group sessions plus a daylong intensive session, led by an experienced instructor. The program included guided meditations, exercises designed to enhance mindfulness in daily life, and group discussions of challenges and experiences. Participants were also encouraged to perform daily “mindfulness meditation” at home.

Thirty-three patients agreed to participate in the MBSR intervention, 27 of whom completed the program. Ratings of mental health, quality of life, and mindfulness were compared to those of the 27 patients who chose not to participate (mainly because of travel time).

The MBSR participants had greater reductions in anxiety and depression scores, as well as improvement in physical and psychological quality of life. They also had higher scores on a questionnaire measuring various aspects of mindfulness–for example, awareness of inner and outer experiences.

Six months later, MBSR participants still had significant reduction in depression and improvement in quality of life, with a trend toward reduced anxiety. The patients were highly satisfied with the mindfulness intervention.

Anxiety, depression, and decreased quality of life are common in patients with IBD. Psychological distress may lead to increased IBD symptoms and play a role in triggering disease flare-ups. Previous studies have shown benefits of MBSR for patients with a wide range of physical illnesses, but there is limited evidence on mindfulness-based interventions for patients with IBD.

The new results show that the MBSR approach is feasible and well-accepted by patients with IBD. The study also suggests that training patients in mindfulness practices to follow in daily life can lead to significant and lasting benefits, including reduced psychological distress and improved quality of life. Dr. Castle comments, “This work reinforces the interaction between physical and mental aspects of functioning, and underscores the importance of addressing both aspects in all our patients.”

The researchers point out some important limitations of their study–including the fact that patients weren’t randomly assigned to MBSR and control groups. They also note that the study didn’t assess the impact on measures of disease activity, including IBD flares. Dr. Castle and colleagues conclude, “A larger adequately powered, randomised study with an active control arm is warranted to evaluate the effectiveness of a mindfulness group program for patients with IBD in a definitive manner.”

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Medical matters: should doctors prescribe a course in mindfulness?

wildmind meditation newsMuiris Houston, The Irish Times: Mindfulness has become quite a buzzword of late. An ancient Buddhist practice, it is seen as being especially relevant to our modern frenetic lives. Jon Kabat- Zinn, an author and mindfulness teacher, who has played a central role in broadening the appeal and use of mindfulness, describes it as “simply the art of conscious living”.

It is a “systematic process of self-observation, self-inquiry and mindful action . . . the overall tenor of mindfulness practice is gentle, appreciative and nurturing”, he writes.

With the “coming” of mindfulness there has been an explosion of interest in its potential uses. Inevitably, the corporate world …

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Mindfulness has huge health potential – but McMindfulness is no panacea

wildmind meditation newsJon Kabat-Zinn, The Guardian: Mindfulness is rapidly becoming a global phenomenon, supported by increasingly rigorous scientific research, and driven in part by a longing for new practices that might help us to better apprehend and solve the challenges that threaten our health.

This week a landmark British report will lay out recommendations for the provision of mindfulness across many public policy areas. Mindful Nation UK, based on evidence presented to an all-party group of the UK parliament, carries enormous promise for health policy in Britain and the wider world.

The World Health Organisation has warned that mental ill-health will be the biggest burden of …

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Mindfulness is the easiest and hardest thing to practice

wildmind meditation newsRyan M. Niemiec, Psy.D, Psych Central: Allow me to explain this paradox; and then I’ll provide 5 tips to help you with your practice.

Look at your right hand. See the shades of color in your skin? Notice the lines on your palm and the lines that separate the segments of your fingers? Easy to see, right? You just brought mindfulness to your right hand in this moment.

Now, consider the task of facing your deepest grief and sorrow. Or reflect on how it might be for you to bring your attention to extreme physical pain, hour after hour. Much more difficult to bring your …

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Mindfulness: the common thread

wildmind meditation newsGarrett Heaney, Montpelier Bridge: Over the past few years, in my quest to become a perfect human, I have sought a number of different therapies, therapists, counselors, and programming — each with its own specific agenda in attending to my mental health. Through it all has been a common thread that seems to tie together each of these individual disciplines in mental health. This thread, of course, is “mindfulness.”

It seems no matter where I was physically or mentally, whether battling depression, partying too much, or sitting in a weekly session of dialectical behavioral therapy, the concept of mindfulness was always right there in the …

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