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  • Linnette Johnson

Mindfulness

The concept of mindfulness, with historical roots in Buddhism, is now accepted and used worldwide. Mindfulness is “the awareness that emerges through paying attention on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgmentally to the unfolding of experience moment by moment.” This involves focusing your attention on thoughts, emotions, events, and surroundings as they occur without assigning judgment or meaning to them. Developing a state of mindfulness can include formal practices, such as sitting meditation, body scanning, and mindful movement, and informal mindfulness, where the practice is integrated into everyday activities such as commuting or doing dishes.


Health benefits of mindfulness


• Improves sleep time and quality in individuals with insomnia

• Improves symptoms of anxiety and depression

• Reduces perception of pain and improves mobility in individuals with chronic pain

• Stimulates the growth of brain regions involved in memory consolidation, emotion regulation, and body awareness

• Supports long-term weight loss and improving obesity-related eating behaviors




Tips for incorporating mindfulness


1. Start slowly.


Some challenges individuals commonly report with mindfulness practice include a lack of motivation and insufficient time. If you’re new to mindfulness, you can start meditating for one to three minutes daily, gradually building up from there.


2. Make it a habit.


Try to incorporate mindfulness practices consistently at the same time each day or week to help establish a routine. As with any activity, you may add formal mindfulness practices to your schedule or set reminders to keep yourself on track.


3. Be patient with yourself.


Individuals new to mindfulness are often concerned about “not being able to do it” or whether they’re “getting it right." Remember that mindfulness practice shouldn’t be focused on achieving an outcome but on the experience itself. According to John Kabat-Zinn, a pioneer in contemporary mindfulness research and practice, “from the outset of practice, we are reminded that mindfulness is not about getting anywhere else or fixing anything. Rather, it is an invitation to allow oneself to be where one already is and to know the inner and outer landscape of the direct experience in each moment.”


4. Try different types of mindfulness practice.


Discovering the mindfulness practices best suited to your lifestyle and preferences can help you stay committed long-term. Fortunately, there are many different types of mindfulness and meditation practices. You may want to try various activities, ranging from informal mindfulness during everyday activities to guided mindfulness meditation or movement-based practices, such as tai chi and yoga.


5. Engage your loved ones.


You might find it helpful to tell your family and friends how you incorporate mindfulness into your lifestyle. They may be able to offer social support or be interested in joining you while you learn about and practice mindfulness.


Mindfulness apps


• Buddhify

• Calm

• Headspace

• MyLife Meditation

• The Mindfulness App

• Insight Timer


References


1. Birtwell, K., Williams, K., Marwijk, H. V., Armitage, C. J., & Sheffield, D. (2018). An exploration of formal and informal mindfulness practice and associations with wellbeing. Mindfulness, 10(1), 89–99.


2. Carrière, K., Khoury, B., Günak, M. M., & Knäuper, B. (2018). Mindfulness-based interventions for weight loss: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Obesity Reviews, 19, 164–177.


3. Cullen, M. (2011). Mindfulness-based interventions: An emerging phenomenon. Mindfulness, 2(3), 186–193.


4. Fox, K., Nijeboer, S., Dixon, M., Floman, J., Ellamil, M., Rumak, S., … Christoff, K. (2014). Is meditation associated with altered brain structure? A systematic review and meta-analysis of morphometric neuroimaging in meditation practitioners. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, 43, 48–73.


5. Hilton, L., Hempel, S., Ewing, B. A., Apaydin, E., Xenakis, L., Newberry, S., … Maglione, M. A. (2017). Mindfulness meditation for chronic pain: Systematic review and meta-analysis. Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 51(2), 199–213.


6. Kabat-Zinn, J. (2003). Mindfulness-based interventions in context: Past, present, and future. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice, 10(2), 144–156.


7. Khoury, B., Lecomte, T., Fortin, G., Masse, M., Therien, P., Bouchard, V., … Hofmann, S. G. (2013). Mindfulness-based therapy: A comprehensive meta-analysis. Clinical Psychology Review, 33, 763–771.


8. Kuyken, W., Warren, F. C., Taylor, R. S., Whalley, B., Crane, C., Bondolfi, G., … Dalgleish, T. (2016). Efficacy of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy in prevention of depressive relapse: An individual patient data meta-analysis from randomized trials. JAMA Psychiatry, 73(6), 565–574.


9. Majeed, M. H., Ali, A. A., & Sudak, D. M. (2018). Mindfulness-based interventions for chronic pain: Evidence and applications. Asian Journal of Psychiatry, 32, 79-83.


10. Nyanaponik, T. (1962). The heart of Buddhist meditation. London: Century.


11. Ong, J. C., Manber, R., Segal, Z., Xia, Y., Shapiro, S., & Wyatt, J. K. (2014). A randomized controlled trial of mindfulness meditation for chronic insomnia. Sleep, 37(9), 1553–1563.


12. Shapero, B. G., Greenberg, J., Pedrelli, P., de Jong, M., & Desbordes, G. (2018). Mindfulness-based interventions in psychiatry. Focus (American Psychiatric Publishing), 16(1), 32–39.


13. Yang, C. C., Barrós-Loscertales, A., li, M., & Pinazo, D., Borchardt, V., Avila, C., & Walter, M. (2019). Alterations in brain structure and amplitude of low-frequency after 8 weeks of mindfulness meditation training in meditationnaïve subjects. Scientific Reports, 9(1)

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