Mindfulness is the single most important foundation of Health.

It has become more common to hear people talk about mindfulness. In the future I believe it will become even more common and it would not surprise me if as part of the health promoting measures, health care professionals don’t start advocating mindfulness in addition to exercise, good nutrition etc. But what is mindfulness? The exact definition is still being debated but generally it is a form of awareness where we are fully present for an inner or outer moment of  experience, of being accepting and open. In contrast non-mindfulness is when we view from a prejudicial belief, we may be fully aware but not mindfully aware because we are not open and not accepting. We can for example act hostile towards someone because of our existing mental model of hostility but not because there is any need to be hostile. In mindfulness the stance is one of positive regard for others, a nonjudgemental awareness that is tinted with acceptance at its core, of compassion towards self and others.

Mindful awareness can be intentionally created by practices such as meditation, yoga, tai chi, qigong, or centring prayer. Daniel J. Siegel in his book ” Pocket Guide to Interpersonal Neurobiology ” writes this about mindfulness…

“Studies of those with mindful awareness using a broad application of these features reveal that it is of benefit to the health of the mind in terms of balanced emotional regulation, flexibility, and approaching rather than withdrawing from challenging event. Being mindful makes you more empathetic and improves the health of the body in terms of enhanced immune function and increased telomerase – the enzyme that maintains the telomeres at the ends of chromosomes and thus enhances cellular longevity. Mindfulness also helps you have more resilience in the face of chronic pain. Mindfulness awareness helps minds, relationships, and our embodied lives.”

In the ancient traditions of the East mindfulness has been practiced for thousands of years to seek truths at higher state of being or to seek enlightenment. It is only recently scientists, with encouragement of Dalai Lama, are discovering the value of mindfulness for health and relationships. In the future posts I will talk about the neurobiology of mindfulness.

 

Resources

Pocket Guide to Interpersonal Neurobiology  by Daniel J. Siegel

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3 Comments

  1. Sandra

     /  March 27, 2012

    I am beginning to study mindfulness; however, I know it in a slightly different, perhaps simpler, form as positive intent. If one assumes that all others (non-human as well) operate on the concept of a positive intent, then there is far less tension in the mind, and less in the body accordingly. The positive intent, however, may not be in your favor. Still, one chooses to discern positive intent in everything and life becomes lighter.

    I am interested in the reduction of chronic pain. I have come some way; however, I notice whenever I take a prescription pain medicine at night due to pain, I hurt triple-fold the next day. While I recognize being mindful of pain and pattern will be helpful, can one expect only to lessen the impression of pain rather than perceive a solution to the pain itself?

    Reply
    • Hello Sandra.
      Thank you for you feed back.
      It is hard to say how well your pain will be controlled with mindful practice without knowing the details.
      I would suggest trying it for couple of months and see how it works for you.
      One other option maybe hypnosis, I have seen good results with that too.
      Thanks again.

      Reply
  1. The Secrets of Resilience « drchana

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