Jon Kabat-Zinn

Mindfulness goes to school

wildmind meditation news

Dr. Susan Mathison, Inforum:

Our kids are back to the routine of school. The energy is high as we walk through the hallways, with lots of chatter and sharing events from the prior day. But high energy doesn’t always translate well to listening and focusing on tasks at hand in the classroom. Some schools around the country are turning to mindfulness as a strategy for improving attention and helping kids make better choices.

Mindfulness was a term first used in the 1970s by Jon Kabat-Zinn, and is defined by him as paying attention on purpose to the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts and bodily sensations. It has some roots in Buddhist meditation traditions but is now used in medical and therapeutic settings around the world.

Mindfulness is being used in the workplace (Google and more), in the U.S. military, in professional sports, and even on Capitol Hill, where Congressman Tim Ryan used mindfulness techniques during weekly staff meetings.

Studies show promising effects of mindfulness training on mental health and well-being: improved attention, reduced stress, and better emotional regulation and an improved capacity for compassion and empathy. It’s no wonder that mindfulness has fans in education.

Since England led the way in 2007 by adding mindfulness instruction, many similar programs have started in the U.S. to train teachers in mindfulness curricula. Among the largest is Mindful Schools. Mindful Schools has found that not only do students benefit, but teachers also benefit with lowered stress, more connection with students and higher job satisfaction.

California educator and author of “The Joy Plan,” Kaia Roman, uses the following exercises with students:

The Bell Listening Exercise

Ring a bell and ask the kids to listen closely to the vibration of the ringing sound. Tell them to remain silent and raise their hands when they no longer hear the sound of the bell. Then tell them to remain silent for one minute and pay close attention to the other sounds they hear once the ringing has stopped. After, go around in a circle and ask the kids to tell you every sound they noticed during that minute. This exercise is fun and gets kids interested in sharing their experiences.

Breathing Buddies

Hand out a stuffed animal (or another small object) to each child. If room allows, have the children lie down on the floor and place the stuffed animals on their bellies. Tell them to breathe in silence for one minute and notice how their Breathing Buddy moves up and down, and any other sensations that they notice. Tell them to imagine that the thoughts that come into their minds turn into bubbles and float away. The presence of the Breathing Buddy makes the meditation a little friendlier, and allows the kids to see how a playful activity doesn’t necessarily have to be rowdy.

The Squish and Relax Meditation

While the kids are lying down with their eyes closed, have them squish and squeeze every muscle in their bodies as tightly as they can. Tell them to squish their toes and feet, tighten the muscles in their legs all the way up to their hips, suck in their bellies, squeeze their hands into fists and raise their shoulders up to their heads. Have them hold themselves in their squished-up positions for a few seconds, then fully release and relax. This is a great, fun activity for “loosening up” the body and mind, and is a totally accessible way to get the kids to understand the art of “being present.”

The Heartbeat Exercise

Have the kids jump up and down in place for one minute. Then have them sit back down and place their hands on their hearts. Tell them to close their eyes and feel their heartbeats, their breath, and see what else they notice about their bodies.

Mountain Breath

This can be done sitting or standing. It is good to have the leader do this, too! As you inhale through your nose, raise your arms as high as you can and bring your palms together high over the top of your head. Imagine you are as tall as a mountain. As you exhale through your mouth, bring your palms together in front of your chest.

The class curriculum may already be set for this year, but these may be fun activities that can be done at home, too. My son has long been a fan of deep-breathing exercises. Usually it’s something I suggest if he’s feeling antsy, but on a few occasions, he’s thought to do them himself.

There are lots of great resources available. Harvard clinician Dr. Christopher Willard has several books, including “Growing Up Mindful.” Amazon of full of great resources. I bought a CD called Indigo Ocean Dreams for my son. It has some peaceful stories about bubbles, ocean waves and breathing. Also check out websites like MindfulTeachers.org and CalmerChoice.org.

Just breathe and be present. It’s good for kids, teachers and parents.

Dr. Susan Mathison founded Catalyst Medical Center in Fargo.

Original article no longer available »

Read More

How mindfulness reduces stress and improves health

wildmind meditation news

Heather Goldstone, WCAI: In 1971, Jon Kabat-Zinn finished his Ph.D. in the laboratory of Nobel Laureate, Salvador Luria, at M.I.T. Then, he took what might be considered a left turn – he went to study with Buddhist masters. Several years later, he drew on both his training in both biology and Buddhism when he founded the Stress Reduction Clinic at U. Mass. Medical School and created the first course in Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction.

“It seems like ‘wow, what a gigantic shift from molecular biology to Buddhist meditative practices,'” says Kabat-Zinn. “But it wasn’t so much of a shift for me because ever since I was very young, I was interested in consciousness, and how it evolved, and the biology of consciousness.”

Kabat-Zinn says he’d gone into biology to try to answer some of those questions, and that meditation offered another way to study oneself and explore what fundamentally makes us human.

Of course, in the 1970’s, when Kabat-Zinn began his work, there were no scientific studies about mindfulness. He credits his M.I.T. credentials with convincing colleagues to give him the benefit of the doubt.

See also:

“Of course, I didn’t know what I was doing,” he says. “I was feeling my way with that intuition that came from just being young and wanting to understand things that nobody was looking at.”

Now, there are hundreds of increasingly rigorous studies showing that mindfulness training and the practice of meditation can produce measurable biological changes. Meditation changes the structure of the brain, enhancing regions responsible for learning and memory processes, emotion regulation, and perspective taking, while thinning areas involved in stress responses. In clinical trials, mindfulness training also appears to suppress inflammation pathways, boost cell-mediated immunity, and slow some aspects of biological aging.

Kabat-Zinn says that it’s important to realize that the science of mindfulness is “really, truly in its infancy.” While much of the research is “rigorous, out of very reputable labs, published in top-tier journals,” he acknowledges that some of the studies out there are not top of the line. And, he says, this is a complex subject that will take decades to work out.

“What people are trying to do is drill down to the mechanism,” he explains “Mindfulness seems to be beneficial on so many different levels, it’s like ‘how can that be?'”

As with anything that seems to good to be true, Kabat-Zinn says it’s important to question whether there are any potential risks from mindfulness meditation.

“The biggest negative effect, so to speak, would be that you run into mental states that you really don’t want to pay any attention to – like boredom, or anxiety or panic – because you’re going to be welcoming and embracing any state of mind and body to arise.”

While that may not be a good idea for some people, Kabat-Zinn says that the quality of the teacher can be important in determining the outcome of mindfulness training.

For himself, Kabat-Zinn says he’d still be practicing mindfulness – even if there were no science to back it up – simply because of the enhanced quality of life he experiences as a result.

Original article no longer available »

Promo for Wildmind's meditation initiative

Wildmind is a Community-Supported Meditation Initiative. Click here to find out about the many benefits of being a sponsor.

Read More

Medical matters: should doctors prescribe a course in mindfulness?

wildmind meditation news

Muiris 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 …

Read the original article »

Promo for Wildmind's meditation initiative

Wildmind is a Community-Supported Meditation Initiative. Click here to find out about the many benefits of being a sponsor.

Read More

Mindfulness has huge health potential – but McMindfulness is no panacea

wildmind meditation news

Jon 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 disease in developed countries by 2030. We urgently need new approaches to tackling this epidemic, and crucially more research to determine the efficacy of mindfulness as a prevention strategy. Already, mindfulness training has been shown to reduce the risk of relapse of recurrent depression by one third. A recent meta-analysis of 209 studies concluded that mindfulness-based interventions showed “large and clinically significant effects” in treating anxiety and depression – effects, crucially, that were maintained through follow-up. These are promising findings for a condition for which there are still only limited treatments. The need to both deepen our understanding of how mindfulness might effect these positive outcomes, as well as to learn how it might help other conditions is expressed by a call for more investment in…

Read the original article »

Promo for Wildmind's meditation initiative

Wildmind is a Community-Supported Meditation Initiative. Click here to find out about the many benefits of being a sponsor.

Read More

The rich rewards of mindfulness

wildmind meditation news

Joy LeVine Abrams, Minuteman News Center: Imagine a life where you felt comfortable, relaxed and light-hearted. When someone said something unsettling, you paused and chose your response. You realized that a lot of what you spend your time doing is truly not a priority for you. In nature you’d be vibrantly aware of the sights, sounds, scents and the extraordinary beauty around you.

When someone very dear seemed upset; you’d listen openheartedly and not give advice. During a difficult emotional moment you reminded yourself that it was all right to be feeling this way. Life has these aspects and your feelings will change soon …

Original article no longer available…

Read More

Is mindfulness actually good for you?

wildmind meditation newsLynne Malcolm, Radio National: Dr Jon Kabat-Zinn became interested in the Buddhist practice of mindfulness more than 35 years ago. With the scientific community skeptical, the at the University of Massachusetts Medical School professor decided to develop a more secular approach in the hope of opening the minds of people in the west.

By 1979 he’d designed a program called Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, which today is one of the world’s most well-respected secular mindfulness programs.

That was only the beginning of scientific interest in mindfulness, though. Psychiatrist Dr Elise Bialylew has practised mindfulness for …

Read the original article »

Read More

What is mindfulness?

Closeup an eyeConsidering that I’ve been practicing meditation for over 30 years, I’m rather embarrassed about how hard I find it to define mindfulness.

I’ve described it elsewhere as “the gentle effort to be continuously present with experience.”

Jon Kabat-Zinn’s has described it as “Paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally.”

The other day I thought of a useful way to describe or define mindfulness:

“Mindfulness is when we observe our experience rather than merely participate in our experience.”

Unmindfulness is an almost hypnotic state. We’ve lost our perspective on our experience, and we’re swept along by it. We may be caught up in an angry rant, or in some compulsive activity like binge-watching TV, but we’re not standing back and observing our experience. We’re participants in the stories and fantasies we create.

In mindfulness we observe our experience rather than merely participate in it. When there’s anger present, we notice the feelings and thoughts that constitute the experience. Part of us is still caught up as a participant, but we’re observing that taking place. When there’s a compulsive activity going on, we stand back and recognize that this is happening. We may not yet be able to stop our compulsion, but we’re at least making a move in that direction.

Another way to put this is that when you’re unmindful, you’re entirely inside your experience. When you’re mindful, you’re partly inside it but there’s a significant part of you that’s looking at the experience from the outside. In neuroscience terms this probably means that you can have your limbic system active (that’s where your emotions and drives operates) or you can have your neocortex (your higher centers) monitoring what the limbic system is up to. That’s the part of you that’s standing outside your experience. That’s the part of you that’s observing, rather than merely participating.

Read More

How being mindful can benefit relationships

wildmind meditation news

A friend has become a big believer in the power of mindfulness. Recently she said she thinks it has helped improve her marriage. I thought mindfulness was really just a new word for meditation. How can it help with relationships with other people?

While meditation can help a person develop mindfulness, the practice of being mindful is more than meditation. And some studies do suggest that mindfulness can help strengthen relationships.

Jon Kabat-Zinn is known as the “Father of Western Mindfulness” for his work with chronic pain patients at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, as well as for developing the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program and being the founding executive director of the Center for Mindfulness at UMass. He describes mindfulness as the ability to remain focused on the reality of the present moment and simply accepting it, without judging or evaluating it.

Mindfulness is seen as a way of life, not simply a method of how to react to different stressors. According to the center’s website, mindfulness involves purposeful action and focused attention that’s grounded in a person’s current experience and held with a sense of curiosity. While mindfulness is a core concept of Buddhism, it is something that anyone, regardless of belief system, can practice.

Being mindful prevents knee-jerk reactions toward other people that can often occur when you’re under stress. So, it seems logical that relationships can improve when one or more people adopt mindfulness techniques. And research lends support to that notion.

One study, published in Behavior Therapy in 2004, analyzed the benefits of an eight-week mindfulness training program on relatively happy couples. Compared with similar couples who hadn’t taken the training, those who did had improved levels of satisfaction, closeness, acceptance and other measures of their relationship, and they also showed higher levels of optimism, spirituality and relaxation as individuals. The results appeared to “take,” as the benefits were maintained in a three-month follow-up.

Two other studies, reported in an article in the Journal of Marital and Family Therapy in 2007, also indicated that practicing mindfulness can help couples with communication and help them manage conflicts more smoothly.

To learn more about mindfulness, take a look at Ohio State University Extension’s “Mind and Body” page on the Family and Consumer Sciences LIve Smart Ohio website, livesmartohio.osu.edu. The posts, written by OSU Extension professionals, often incorporate aspects of mindfulness.

In addition, OSU Extension offers a four-week “Mindful Extension: A Guide to Practical Stress Reduction” group program. It was developed by Maryanna Klatt, an associate professor at The Ohio State University College of Medicine, who focuses her research on mindfulness and stress reduction. For details, see livesmartohio.osu.edu/mindful-extension.

Family Fundamentals is a monthly column on family issues. It is a service of the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences and its outreach and research arms, Ohio State University Extension and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center. Send questions to Family Fundamentals, c/o Martha Filipic, 2021 Coffey Road, Columbus, OH 43210-1044, or filipic.3@osu.edu.

Original article no longer available…

Read More

How mindfulness can change the way our brain works

Amanda Payne, Digital Journal: Mindfulness is in the news a lot these days but what is it and how can it help you to improve your health and well-being?

According to Jon Kabat-Zinn, mindfulness means “paying attention in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgementally.” Kabat-Zinn is Professor of Medicine Emeritus and creator of the Stress Reduction Clinic and the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

Although based on ancient Buddhist practices, mindfulness “does not conflict with any beliefs …

Read the original article »

Read More

Meditation master Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn breaks down the Jedi mind trick

wildmind meditation news

Leslie Anne Frye, Fusion: Meditation has gone mainstream and is no longer the exclusive practice of yogis, peace-loving hippies or Jedis. Univision’s Enrique Acevedo caught up with world-renowned scientist, writer and meditation teacher, Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn at the World Economic Forum in Davos, to discuss the ancient tradition.

In fact, Dr. Kabat-Zinn’s mindfulness mediation technique is being implemented in classrooms and board rooms across the country as well as in medicine, the U.S. military, legal and social justice domains. What’s the big deal about mindful meditation? According to Dr. Kabat-Zinn, “greed, hatred and delusion lead to tremendous suffering. We’re capable of actually holding our own impulses to acquire in such a way that we actually begin to think about the larger field of benefit of the planet, of all beings.”

Dr. Kabat-Zinn strongly believes that mindfulness meditation “is for every single person who is breathing, as long as you’re breathing you can practice.” No one’s saying that you’ll master the Jedi mind trick overnight, but the simple practice of taking some minutes from your day to be aware and meditate can yield a lot of well-being for yourself and those around you.

Original article no longer available.

Promo for Wildmind's meditation initiative

Wildmind is a Community-Supported Meditation Initiative. Click here to find out about the many benefits of being a sponsor.

Read More
Menu

Wildmind is a Community-Supported Meditation Initiative. Explore the benefits of becoming a supporter.

X