Focusing on the present moment, as opposed to the past or future, is a central quality of mindfulness practice. This attention to the present moment without judgment produces a deep shift in how we think and how we experience the world. If we are not aware of our direct experience in the present moment, then we are missing out on our lives. The present moment is the only moment in which our life occurs.
What are the benefits of mindfulness?
Many people find it hard to cope with the pressures of modern living. Every day, a quarter of a million people miss work because of stress, with 75 per cent of all illnesses thought to be stress-related. And when times are hard, It can be difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Among its many benefits, learning about mindfulness meditation & practicing mindfulness has actually been proven to:
- Bolster our immune system, making us better able to fight off diseases, from the flu to cancer.
- Reduce stress. There is an ongoing reduction in anxiety three years after taking an MBSR course.
- Improve our concentration and reduce ruminative thinking.
- Improve better quality sleep, with fewer sleep disturbances.
- Reduce negative feelings like anger, tension and depression.
- Mindfulness helps us understand, tolerate, and deal with emotions in healthy ways. It helps us to alter our habitual responses by taking pause and choosing how we act.
- A 2013 meta-analysis of mindfulness concluded that it was “an effective treatment for a variety of psychological problems, and is especially effective for reducing anxiety, depression, and stress”.
- It has been shown to be as effective as antidepressants for people with mild to moderate depression.
- Improve physical conditions as varied as psoriasis, fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome.
- Improve creativity, concentration and memory.
- Decrease visits to the GP.
- The evidence in support of mindfulness practice is so strong that almost three-quarters of GPs think it would be beneficial for all patients to learn mindfulness meditation skills.
Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy and Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction
Prof Mark Williams in the British Journal of Psychiatry (2012) has suggested that data from six randomised controlled trials indicate that MBCT is associated with a 44% reduction in depressive relapse risk compared with usual care for patients with three or more previous episodes, and in head-to-head comparisons with antidepressants, MBCT provides effects comparable with staying on a maintenance dose of anti-depressants.For people looking for a psychosocial approach to staying well, MBCT appears to be accessible, acceptable and cost-effective. Based on this evidence, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence 2009 depression guidelines recommended MBCT for people who are currently well but have experienced three or more episodes of depression.
If you’re interested in learning mindfulness or using it as part of a therapy plan, contact me to discuss.