Mindfulness As A Therapy For Mental Issues

Mindfulness: Diverse Perspectives on its Meaning, Origins and Applications
Mindfulness – E book

J. Mark G. Williams, Jon Kabat-Zinn

Mindfulness-based approaches to medicine, psychology, neuroscience, healthcare, education, business leadership, and other major societal institutions have become increasingly common.

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Introduction :

Mindfulness as a therapy for mental issues is a relatively new field of study. But it has given encouraging results in the issues related to improvement in health, education, workplaces, etc. And intense research is still going on in all of these fields and many more areas that affect our well being. Simply put mindfulness means Paying more attention to the present moment i.e. to your own thoughts and feelings, and to the world around you. Most of us have issues that we find hard to let go and mindfulness as therapy can help us in dealing with all of these especially mental issues.

Definition of mindfulness:-

Mindfulness encompasses in itself two key ingredients i.e. awareness and acceptance. Awareness is the knowledge and ability to focus attention on one’s inner processes and experiences, such as the experience of a particular moment. And acceptance is the ability to observe and accept rather than judge or avoid those streams of thought. So it suggests that the mind is fully attending to what’s happening, to what you’re doing, to the space you’re moving through. That might seem trivial, except for the annoying fact that we so often divert our attention from the matter at hand. Because our mind takes flight, we lose touch with our body, and pretty soon we’re engrossed in obsessive thoughts about something that happened in the past or fretting about the future. And that makes us anxious due to stress caused by the obsession. But when we’re mindful, we reduce the stress of all kinds including the stress of pandemic like COVID-19. In addition to that mindfulness enhances our performance, helps in gaining insight and awareness through observing our own mind, and increases our attention to another needy person.

Applications Of Mindfulness as therapy :

A number of therapeutic applications based on mindfulness have been developed by various practitioners like clinical psychologists for helping people who are experiencing a variety of mental conditions. Mindfulness practice has been employed to reduce stress, anxiety, and depression. Further, research indicates that mindfulness may favorably influence our immune system as well as inflammation which helps in fighting these conditions favorably. Also, mindfulness is effective in the treatment of drug addiction. Further programs based on mindfulness models have been adopted by schools, prisons, hospitals, veterans’ centers, etc. with encouraging results. Again mindfulness programs have been applied for other conditions like healthy aging, weight management, athletic performance, helping children with special needs, and much more.

Clinical studies have documented both physical and mental health benefits of mindfulness in different patient categories like healthy adults and children. Research studies have shown a positive relationship between trait mindfulness and psychological health. Studies also indicate that rumination i.e. dwelling on stressful thoughts contributes to a variety of mental and physical disorders. And conditions like the one existing now due to the pandemic caused by novel coronavirus is favorable. But mindfulness-based interventions can reduce rumination and can help individuals cope with it effectively. Further, the practice of mindfulness may be a preventive strategy to stop the development of mental health problems. Additionally, mindfulness appears to bring about the lowered activity of the default mode network of the brain which contributes towards a lowered risk of developing problems like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Also, various researches have even suggested that mindfulness can help people to cope with rejection and social isolation.

Mindfulness is rooted in Buddhist and Hindu teachings. Buddhism includes a journey toward enlightenment with the help of this technique. The Hindu religion has been using it in the form of yoga, pranayama, etc. since long. The emergence of mindfulness in Western culture can be attributed to Jon Kabat-Zinn. Kabat-Zinn studied mindfulness under several Buddhist teachers, such as Philip Kapleau and Thich Nhat Hanh. As a professor at the University of Massachusetts medical school in the late 1970s, Kabat-Zinn developed a program called Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) to treat chronic pain.

Some people find it very difficult to practice mindfulness. As soon as they stop what they’re doing, lots of thoughts and worries enter into their mind. It might be useful to remember that mindfulness isn’t about making these thoughts go away, but rather about seeing them as natural mental events. It’s like standing at a bus station and seeing ‘thought buses’ coming and going without having to get on them and be taken away. This can be very hard at first, but with regular practice it is possible.

Mindfulness Practice As A Therapy For Mental Issues

Though mindfulness is innate, it can be cultivated through various techniques. Here are some examples:

– Sitting, walking, standing, and moving meditation.

– Short pauses to be inserted into everyday life.

– Merging meditation practice with other activities, such as yoga or sports.

Paying more attention to the present moment like your own thoughts and feelings, and to the world around you can improve your mental wellbeing. Mindfulness can help us enjoy life more and understand ourselves better. You can take steps to develop it in your own life. An important part of mindfulness is reconnecting with our bodies and the sensations they experience. This means waking up to the sights, sounds, smells, and tastes of the present moment. It’s about allowing ourselves to see the present moment clearly. When we do that, it can positively change the way we see ourselves and our lives. Mindfulness also allows us to become more aware of the stream of thoughts and feelings that we experience and to see how we can be occupied in that stream in ways that are not helpful. Also, mindfulness makes us stand back from our thoughts and start to see their patterns. Gradually, we can train ourselves to notice when our thoughts are taking over and realize that thoughts are simply ‘mental events’ that do not have to control us.

How to be more mindful

Reminding ourselves to take notice of your thoughts, feelings, body sensations and the world around us is the first step to mindfulness. Even as we go about our daily lives, we can notice the sensations of things like the food we eat, the air moving around us, etc. All this may sound very small, but it has huge power to interrupt the ‘autopilot’ mode we often engage day today and to give us new perspectives on our life. Also, it can be helpful to pick a regular time like the morning journey to work or a walk at lunchtime during which we decide to be aware of the sensations created by the world around us. Further trying new things, such as sitting in a different seat in meetings or going somewhere new for lunch, can also help you notice the world in a new way. For practicing mindfulness in daily life, it can be helpful to set aside time for more formal mindfulness practice. Hence we can conclude that mindfulness meditation mainly involves sitting silently and paying attention to thoughts, sounds, the sensations of breathing or parts of the body, bringing our attention back whenever the mind starts to wander.

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Mindfulness is our capacity to focus, to really pay attention, and use our brain’s resources wisely. Using an 8-step model, the Mindfulness at Work Pocketbook will allow HR and OD practitioners, coaches, and team leaders to experience it for themselves and see how they can develop and implement mindfulness-based interventions within their organizations. Building a mindfulness culture in the workplace brings significant benefits both to the individual (greater job satisfaction, less stress, improved performance) and the organization (lower absenteeism, higher productivity, reduced costs). The 8-step model spans an eight-week period with exercises for each stage. It begins by raising awareness of how the mind works and continues by building mindfulness skills and sharpening awareness of thought processes, especially how these can trigger stress. Integrating mindfulness into everyday life is dealt with in the final stages. The many exercises afford plenty of opportunities for much-needed practice

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