Lehigh County Health & Medicine Spring 2021 - 14

FEATURE

To start a conversation about mindfulness,
it's helpful to understand exactly what it
is. Many view mindfulness as a form of
meditation, which it can be. Meditation
typically refers to a formal, seated intentional
practice, where you use focus to increase
calmness, concentration, awareness, and
emotional balance. Mindfulness is the simple
act of paying attention and being present
in whatever you're doing. You can practice
mindfulness in a formal way (seated, in a
class setting, or on your own, for example),
or informally anytime, anywhere.

of scientific papers are recorded on research disorder. Through mindfulness they learned
We often go about our daily lives with lists. More recently, interest in mindfulness to see their thoughts as a constellation of
our minds wandering away from the activity has grown further into the mainstream as habitual patterns of the mind and not truths.
or conversation at hand to other thoughts, more people are experiencing stress due to This insight allowed patients to change this
desires, fears, or wishes. When we're mind- the pandemic.
negative narrative, which seems to correlate
ful, we are actively involved with all our
with reductions in relapse in patients with
senses in the present moment. Practicing Treatment for depression
recurrent depression.
mindfulness is paying attention, on purpose, and anxiety
to the present unfolding moment, with
Although the results of the efficacy of
Another study, with results published
an attitude of curiosity or acceptance. As mindfulness as a treatment modality are in Nature Reviews Neuroscience in 2015,
the mind wanders away, which it will, we varied, a few key areas are notable. When showed actual changes in brain structure
gently redirect attention back to observing the well-designed, well-run studies are after mindfulness meditation. Positive
whatever is happening right now.
examined, they show promising outcomes outcomes included enhanced attention,
for patients with recurrent depression, improved emotion regulation, reduced
A new perspective
anxiety, and chronic pain.* A 2014 study stress, and improved present-moment
Mindfulness meditation has its roots in in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry found awareness. Current research is investigating
Buddhist philosophy. It was not appreciated that MBSR was associated with a significant the relationship between these findings
as a potent adjunct to medical treatment reduction in anxiety and distress, and an and enhanced emotional resilience with
until the 1980s. At that time, Jon Kabat increase in positive self-statements. The promising results.
Zinn, professor emeritus of medicine and same study measured left-sided activation
creator of the Center for Mindfulness in in several anterior regions of the brain, Managing chronic pain
Medicine, Health Care, and Society at which is observed during certain forms
Evidence has been found that regular
the University of Massachusetts Medical of positive emotion. It was found that mindfulness practice reduces a person's pain
School, developed Mindfulness-Based Stress MBSR decreased anxiety and increased this experience. The work of Fadel Zeidan, PhD,
Reduction, a standardized curriculum of positive affect. The study also showed that and his colleagues in 2015, which involved
mindfulness training. The intervention left-sided anterior activation is associated brain imaging studies, showed those who
was reproducible and its effects could be with enhanced immune function, and that received mindfulness as treatment had less
measured in a variety of clinical settings. such improvements remain four months activation in the parts of their brains that
In one early seminal randomized controlled after the intervention.
manage pain messages. Their research also
trial, he was able to show that 15 minutes
showed that some participants were able to
of mindfulness meditation improved rates
Studies based on group intervention and reduce and, sometimes, eliminate, the use
of healing in patients with psoriatic rash.
training that have focused on depression of pain medications through ongoing daily
and mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, mindfulness practice, though this was not
Perceptions altered as science began to test showed similar positive results especially in always the case for all.
mindfulness. Backed by data, it emerged as reducing relapse. They showed that patients
an effective adjunctive treatment modality with recurrent depression could be taught
The Mayo Clinic provides an explanation
for some conditions. The number of ran- to change their relationship to the negative of how this occurs: " Mindfulness exercises
domized controlled trials jumped into the self-talk that is the common internal nar- help people to focus their mind and body
hundreds since about 2013 and thousands rative among people who suffer with this in the moment without judgment. Daily
14 Lehigh County Health & Medicine | SPRING 2021


https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3772979/ https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10965637/

Lehigh County Health & Medicine Spring 2021

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