Is Mindfulness Science or Woo Woo?

mindfulness science or woo woo

 Mindfulness researchers

What have you heard about Mindfulness? Do you think that there is any sound basis for Mindfulness Science that has been tested rigorously or is it Woo Woo stuff that people only imagine doing any good in their lives?

If you don’t know about it, do you want to find out?

 Jon Kabat-Zinn

As a young doctor, Jon Kabat-Zinn had visited the East. He became convinced that some of the elements of Buddhism could be useful in treating his patients with chronic severe pain. He gradually developed skills that allowed him to create the MBSR program: Stress Reduction Clinic and the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. He downplayed any direct connection between Buddhism and Mindfulness, focusing on the non-secular aspects of Buddha’s books.

MBSR is Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, the eventual outcome of Kabat-Zinn’s efforts. This course has been available online for several years.

Since the 1970’s Mindfulness began popping up everywhere. It has been used in business (Google), hospitals, schools, etc.,

A large number of people say IT WORKS!

In offices, it can be done unobtrusively at your desk or while waiting in the queue, riding the bus (NEVER DRIVING).

His claims are based on the scientifically proven fact that Mindfulness can help ordinary people like you cope with stress, anxiety, pain, and illness, and also to discover wonderful insights the more you practice.

There are other brilliant teachers that I will share with you along the way to happiness.

Here is the man himself saying it better than anyone else. I was mesmerized the first time I heard him. It takes about 12 minutes.

IT MAKES A LOT OF SENSE!

The Present State of affairs

The Oxford Centre for Mindfulness has found that Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) prevents depression inpatients who have experienced recurrent depression. For people who have experienced three or more previous episodes of depression, MBCT reduces the recurrence rate over 12 months by 40–50% compared with usual care. (Crane C et al, “The effects of the amount of home meditation practice in Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy on relapse to depression in the Staying Well after Depression Trial”, Behaviour Research and Therapy, 2014).

MBCT is as effective at reducing recurrence as antidepressants (Williams et al, “Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy”) for preventing relapse in recurrent depression:

A recent online course in Mindfulness among nearly 300 people revealed these statistics:

A 58% reduction in anxiety levels
A 57% reduction in depression
A 40% reduction in stress
Other research has shown that Mindfulness can reduce stress in work-related rumination, chronic fatigue and improvements in sleep quality, especially for people in stressful jobs.

The areas in which Mindfulness is being trialed is growing:

Business

Schools

Autistic Spectrum

Young people

Physical Health

Criminal Justice – Mindfulness practice within criminal justice settings is currently being developed around the country. In HMP Brixton a “Mind/Body Workout Group” was established to help individuals to develop their own mindfulness practice.

Pregnancy -“Effects of a mindfulness-based intervention during pregnancy on prenatal stress and mood: results of a pilot study”, Archives of Women’s Mental Health, 2008.

Workplace – The most famous example is Google. Other companies have adopted Mindfulness practice to improve concentration. Read the article from Mindful Magazine about how it is being a Google employee and how willing the workers were to take the course, an almost ‘I want what you have’ approach. Even cynics were impressed.

Here comes a long list of events that lower your Happiness levels. How do YOU handle them?

Childhood Traumas

Death or a loss

Divorce (or loss)

Redundancy

Loneliness

Moving house

Getting a new job (you’d think this could only be good)

Financial concerns

Social circumstances

Abuse (physical, mental)

Overworking

Giving birth

Unemployment

Menopause

Finishing school

Brain injury

Underactive thyroid

Cushing’s syndrome

Celiac disease

Fibromyalgia

Kidney disease

Pyrrole disorder

Cancer

Heart disease

Crohn’s disease

Candida overgrowth

Arthritis

Multiple Sclerosis

Lupus

Chronic self-criticism

Debilitating guilt and shame

Being criticised and repeatedly invalidated

Perfectionism

Ruminative thinking (see Home and above)

Negative bias

Learned Helplessness

Predisposition based on family history

Deficiency in Vitamin D (sunshine)

Deficiency in B complex

Deficiency in Omega 3 fatty acids

Deficiency in Iron

Deficiency in amino acid

Deficiency in Zinc

Deficiency in Foliate

Deficiency in Selenium

Deficiency in Magnesium

Deficiency in Iodine

Hormonal contraception

Opioids

It’s a Wonder that Anyone is Happy!!!!! BE HONEST WITH YOURSELF or you can’t fix it.

If any of these apply to you, then Mindfulness will help you to make it not matter just so much.

‘Current literature points towards the potential for mindfulness to affect the structure and neural patterns present in the brain. Scientists have seen these results last not only during mindfulness practice but also during the daily life of practitioners. The results of one study published in NeuroReport in 2005 show thicker cortical regions related to attention and sensory processing in long-term meditation practitioners compared to non-meditators. These findings also suggest that meditation practice may offset cortical thinning brought on by aging’

(Brief Summary of Mindfulness Research by Greg Flaxman and Lisa Flook, Ph.D.)

THAT’S FOR ME!

Until fairly recently no one believed the brain could change over time. Your brain did not develop through your life. The exciting news is that the brain has plasticity and can actually change. This fact was not known until very recently. And Mindfulness Meditation can change your brain and so can change your own behaviour. We are now squarely in the realms of Neuroscience.

DREAD OF THE SHOWER

I went on the Smithsonian site and I saw articles flashing past. One was entitled, “Why Mind Wandering Can Be So Miserable, According to Happiness Experts” by one of their staffers, Libby Copeland. She is gloomy and anxious at the prospect of a shower. It sounds silly but maybe you can think of something you are irrationally afraid of. Libby is ripe for some Mindfulness training.
http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/why-mind-wandering-can-be-so-miserable-according-happiness-experts-180962265

shower can cause problems where, meditation may help

 

The scientists say that we spend 47% of our waking hours mind-wandering. Nearly half! I know my mind drifts off even when I am watching a movie thriller. I also know I used to be much worse when I was working a primary school teacher. I hardly ever got jobs done to my satisfaction. Then the tendency is to beat yourself up about it.

You will be interested to know that we pay most attention (i.e., showing Mindfulness) during sex. We spent the most, 67%, in grooming behaviors.

WANDERING IS WHAT MINDS DO. (Take this to heart)

4 thoughts on “Is Mindfulness Science or Woo Woo?

  1. I think a good thing is to STOP and do a three breath exercise several times a day. Link it to something that already happens, like when you have your coffee or ties the phone rings or before the end of dinnertime bell. You would find your best time if you have help to remember.

    Tracy

  2. Hi Tracey,
    Great post. My friend is currently doing a Mindfulness course. She got onto it because she also heard about The Oxford Centre for Mindfulness, Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) research. She said that it has helped with her anxiety.
    It is nice to know that there are some drug free pain free things that can help us.
    I was just wondering what your top tip is for staying “mindfull”? thanks

  3. Dear Christina,
    Thank you for replying to my post. If you find meditation quieting, then it is doing you good and counteracting the stressors. Remember – You are not your thoughts. I will be subscribing to your site because mindfulness and gardening intertwine naturally. Tracy

  4. I believe mindfulness is not woo woo 🙂 I do find that I do have a bit of a mind wandering issue though. A busy mind, with many thoughts. I do a lot of meditation to try to help me quiet it at times. I am unsure how mindful they are or just quieting?
    Your list is a shocking realization of the stressors that can play on the mind. Sadly I am familiar with too many of those.
    I was looking through other articles on this site, which I enjoyed. I loved the 7 Buddhist habits article as well. I will be following along with your writing.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *