Getting your mind on mindfulness

If you were not familiar with mindfulness as a stress-relief practice before this last year, the events of 2020 have likely brought it to your attention. These days, you would be hard-pressed to open your social media or do a health-related Google search without seeing information pop up about the benefits of tuning in to your body, taking a break, and breathing.

Mindfulness meditation originates from different Buddhist practices and philosophies. Contemporary mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) practices, however, are more recently rooted in work done in the 1970s by Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn and others at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center. These contemporary practices, including off-shoots such as mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT), can be found in diverse clinical settings across the world—but what exactly do they involve?

While mindfulness may sound like an amorphous concept, it is a relatively straightforward practice that has been positively supported by several scientific studies in the last twenty years. At their simplest, mindfulness practices call you to focus in on your experiences in the present moment and notice, without judgement, what those experiences happen to be.  

As with any kind of meditative practice, simplicity does not necessarily equal ease; it can be challenging to mindfully focus on the present moment, and it can be even harder to redirect our attention without judgement when we lose that focus. When one does make time for mindfulness practices, however, research has shown that it can help reduce time spent ruminating on negative thoughts, reduce stress associated with anxiety and mood disorders, and increase working memory, among other studied benefits.

In stressful times, the resilience and skills developed through mindfulness practices can have tangible benefits to our overall well-being and mental and physical health. Fortunately, there are an abundance of online resources that can help you take the plunge into mindfulness if you are so inclined. From apps to YouTube videos, options are plentiful.

If you’re looking for a more focused foray into mindfulness, however, the Consortium has you covered. Join us each Friday in March on Zoom for our lunchtime series with Tracey Sondik, PsyD, on Learning the Tools of Mindfulness When We Need it Most. This 4-week introduction to mindfulness is designed for mental health clinicians who want to learn the powerful tools of mindfulness to help their clients develop effective coping skills.

Mindfulness can help to manage their fears, sadness, and anxiety during this global crisis. In addition, participants will enhance their own ability to manage their personal fears and distress so that they be more fully present for their clients in this urgent time of need. To learn more or to register for the series, click here! 

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