Do you remember when oat bran was “discovered” to be this panacea for improved cardiac health, or any number of “miracle cures” that seem to pop up and are suddenly everywhere and in everything? Nowadays, things “go viral” and personally I think it creates a kind of fatigue for us all.
Well, that’s how I’ve been feeling about the constant utilization of the term “mindfulness” and what’s touted as its far-reaching current applications. I’m waiting with gleeful anticipation for the invention of “mindfulness sleeping”! Perhaps someone has developed this and it’s one of the few things not showing up in my email inbox? (If you are in on this, do tell!)
Alas, I was corrupted years ago and began meditating. I took an online course through UCLA’s Mindful Awareness Research Center to learn some secular basics of mindfulness practices. I discovered that meditation is not what I thought it was. I also studied Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) methods. This approach was developed by Joh-Kabat Zin, PhD (who is not a Buddhist; he told me so), in 1979 at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center. The University of Oregon (yep, that other university around here) even has a MBSR class available to the public through their extension program. I then began to sit frequently with others at my local Zen sangha, learning more about this approach to mindful living, and the pursuit of enlightenment. I have a subscriptions to “Mindfulness Magazine” and “Spirituality and Health, ” both with the most recent edition available in my waiting room. And, I have a larger number of books related to this subject available for loan to my clients than I care to admit. I saw the research on how meditation changes the brain. I got on the train. And personally, it has created some shifts I was hoping for.
So, it is with some sense of apology that I suggest, if you are wondering about methods that might help to improve your mood and impact the quality of your daily life, that there are reasons for you to consider joining the Mindfulness Fan Club (I just made that up; I don’t think there’s one of these, anyway; hmmm.)
If you’re interested in learning some practices, check out the resources above. For those of you information junkies out there like me, I direct you specifically to a recent meta-analysis titled “The Effect of Mindfulness-Based Therapy on Anxiety and Depression: A Meta-Analytic Review:”. This research method evaluates numerous studies on this subject and statistically analyzes the data to determine if there’s enough evidence to suggest it is effective. Here, the focus was on treating anxiety and mood disorders. The study found that mindfulness-based therapy approaches showed evidence of moderate improvements. This might not seem exciting enough to plan a parade, but in the world of psychological research, that’s a pretty potent finding.
It might even be helpful to make a cup of green tea to accompany your read. By the way, does anyone eat oat bran anymore? Namaste_/\_