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Mindfulness Friday November 8, 2013

I've been hearing a lot about mindfulness recently. To be honest I hadn't known anything about it or even been aware of what it was until a few months ago when a number of friends and acquaintances started telling me (with great enthusiasm) all about the mindfulness courses they were on and the benefits they were getting.

But I still wasn't that much interested until I heard that Mindfulness is being used very successfully to treat depression. Of course, I started listening then.

So apologies if you are all way ahead of me here already and know everything I'm about to say.

Although based in the concept of mindfulness in the Buddhist tradition, it can be practised independently of religion. Mindfulness is defined as the art of 'Paying attention, on purpose, to the present moment without making judgements'. Immediately we can see how anchoring ourselves in the present moment will automatically prevent our minds from sliding down the well-known habits and tracks of thoughts to those dark places (usually focussed on the past or future, very rarely in the now) which bring us right down.

There's a very interesting video by Mark Williams (Professor of Clinical Psychology at Oxford University) on YouTube on the science of mindfulness. Apparently, regular and sustained practice of the discipline really does affect the physical construction of the brain, separating the part of the brain that experiences events with the part that makes up stories about them. I can see how that would be really useful.

With this in mind, I resolved to be more mindful in my daily walk home from the bus stop – and it's extraordinarily difficult! Not the least of my problems was dragging my brain back from this blog I was planning to write on the subject of mindfulness...

But I have to report on the basis of a couple of experiments that, yes, colours seemed brighter, the air fresher, I noticed things I'd never noticed before, and opened the front door feeling really charged up and ready for the day. So I think I'll start to learn more and add another skill to the depression fighting toolbox.

Now I wonder if someone has written a "Mindfulness for Dummies" book...

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment on our Blogspot:

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Steve Jack Fri, Nov 8th 2013 @ 7:51am

Yes, they have. And it's very good:

Gower Fri, Nov 8th 2013 @ 8:55am

Good to see this subject raised. It does really help with everything. I read about it around 18 years ago in a book called the 'The Yoga of Mindfulness' (by Harald Brust/Asokonanda). I recall him referring to it as the 'art of observation and non-reaction'. He uses the parallel of treating your mind like a telephone answer machine. The message is received and recorded but there is no instant response from the brain. This particular book encouraged using breathing as a means of returning yourself to mindfulness should your thoughts and emotions start to run away with you.

More recently, I came across Zazen Meditation and I can highly recommend it. For me, It's like an extended version of mindfulness, No fuss, no ceremony to speak of, chanting or otherwise - just a good sitting position and stillness while you observe the 'Is-ness' of things and allow thoughts to come and go like trains on a platform without having to jump onto every single one. It's a fantastic practice and extremely effective in maintaining a peaceful mind.

I'd very much like to suggest this to Moodscopers as an extension to the mindfulness concept.

:) days everyone

Edward Newsome Fri, Nov 8th 2013 @ 8:59am

Having read a few and practiced for just a couple of years I'd recommend the following for anyone interested in finding out more: Mindfulness: Finding peace in a frantic world by Danny Penman and Mark Williams. Once you have started to practice: Wherever you go, there you are by Jon Kabat Zinn and One Minute Mindfulness by Simon Parke. Also fun and branching out into emotional intelligence is Chade-Meng Tan's Search Inside Yourself.

Anonymous Fri, Nov 8th 2013 @ 9:01am

Jon Kabat Zinn has written books and recorded mindful meditations on CDs which are great for beginners. There's also some very good stuff on You Tube.

C A Morgan Fri, Nov 8th 2013 @ 9:21am

At the risk of overpowering people with another book recommendations- I can recommend a new book Mindfulness for Health: A pratical guide to relieving pain, reducing stress and restoring wellbeing. by Vidymala burch & Dr Danny Penman with a foreword written by Mark Williams. This is a no nonsense book that reflects years of the authors experiences of suffering in body and mind and of being high skilled practitioners of teaching Mindfulness to people who have additional problems too.

I was fortunate to attend a Breathworks Mindfulness course in Manchester about 7 years ago run by Vidyamala and other trainers. I attended the course under the pretence of it being potentially helpful to my physical ill health but actually really interested in how it might improve my management of recurring severe depressions.

I found it very helpful to both and learned a lot about myself too. Coincidentally I was at a drop-in session yesterday afternoon run by Breathworks at the Manchester Buddhist centre yesterday and within a very short time being there started to benefit and today am facing my day with renewed mental enthusiasm! Breathworks training is now offered all over the country and I think you can't beat having a go with a led meditation. The benefit of attending a Breathworks course is that everyone there 'gets it' about ill health and stress and I've never felt so supported or nurtured as I do when I'm in their company.

So whilst I've added to the book list recommendations I can't recommend enough getting out there and trying Mindfulness out with a good trainer or practitioner. My own personal meditation practice is erratic if I'm honest but there are elements that I do use regularly but best of all I love attending a led Mindfulness meditation session in the company of other like minded people from the Breathworks tradition.

NialIgnite Fri, Nov 8th 2013 @ 9:39am

What a great discovery to make Mary.
It always annoys me when people exaggerate things (I know I can get help for that!) so for those people who suffer in the same way as I do forgive me if I say: 'Mindfulness is the answer to world peace'.
I believe it is, its clean (no religious connection), its difficult to do but its value is being scientifically proven as more and more research comes to the fore. In a world where we are continuously hijacked by our thinking and technology is promoting this exponentially.....mindfulness has the capacity to save us from ourselves.
I discovered it about five years ago and without it I hate to think where I would be today. Jon Kabat Zinn is my favourite author in the space but Bob Sthal is also excellent and no doubt there are others. Search for Jon Kabat Zinn at Google on Google (yes at Google on Google!) for a couple of excellent videos. One a talk showing the science behind the value of Mindfulness and another a demonstration. World Peace here we come!

Julia Fri, Nov 8th 2013 @ 9:40am

Moodscopers first told me about Mindfulness. I bought Jon Kabat Zinn's Catastrophic Living and watched a 45 minuteYou Tube clip on the subject but it was too long to watch all of it. And although I like Kabat Zinn's writing, I haven't finished his book. I have been put off by his advice that we should spend at least 45 minutes each day practising Mindfulness for it really to work. I am very keen to practise it as so many like minded people swear by it but I need a short (less that 45 minutes) intro to it so that I can master the basics and then I am sure I would actually want to spend 45 minutes a day on it. I think perhaps classes by an experienced practitioner might be best for me in which I was told what I should be doing. But any advice would be appreciated please.

Nina Fri, Nov 8th 2013 @ 9:50am

Mindfulness for Dummies is brilliant - great idea, great book!

Aeia Fri, Nov 8th 2013 @ 10:06am

Some NHS services offer mindfulness courses for people suffering from stress/anxiety/depression. I was lucky to attend one earlier in the year and found the practice very helpful. My problem has been keeping it up with a very busy lifestyle! But I think even if you can do something mindfully every day and possibly use some of the short practices such as the 3 minute breathing space this can help.
I've also found meditation classes at our local Buddhist centre and try and attend them as much as I can.

christine bennett Fri, Nov 8th 2013 @ 10:56am

I can recommend Shelly at The Mindfulroad for classes if you live in the midlands. Also the books The Mindful Way Through Depression by Zinn and others and Sane New World by Ruby Wax. I have no connection to the Mindfulroad except having been on a course in Telford.

Caroline Ashcroft Fri, Nov 8th 2013 @ 11:59am

A few other recommendations we've received by email are:

"The Power of Now" by Eckhart Tolle - one of the best books ever on this subject - Life changing. Andrew

"Be Mindful" online course - 4 weeks - it is brilliant! Vivienne

Web site: Mark

Talk by Jon Kabat Zinn (father of modern mindfulness therapies) is worth a watch too: Mark

I'd just like to thank everyone who has contributed and is recommending all these books and video's on the subject. It's obviously struck and chord and I'm sure all of these recommendations will be of help to our members so thanks for taking the time to write.

Satya Robyn Fri, Nov 8th 2013 @ 12:18pm

If you fancy combining mindfulness with writing during January you could try our Mindful Writing Challenge... Thanks for the article.

***************************** Fri, Nov 8th 2013 @ 3:26pm

Surprised no one has mentioned Thich Nat Hanh who also includes mindful walking meditation.
Mindfulness can also help with healing: See Shinzen Young's work on this. Here is a synopsis of his book and (which has a guided meditation on CD).

Oli M. Fri, Nov 8th 2013 @ 6:13pm

I second Caroline's recommendation of Headspace. I'd been trying to practice meditation for years, and Headspace was really the only thing that helped me become comfortable.

Anonymous Fri, Nov 8th 2013 @ 8:18pm

Mindfulness is the answer. It brings us into the now and depression exists in past and future thinking. It has revolutionized my life. i was able to hear my intuition more clearly which lead me to my naturopath and the rest is history. I have been suffering w depression and suicide for 25 years and the last 8 weeks i have not had one single thought in that direction-all because of mindfulness and the chain reaction it had. Getting off antidepressants was the first step-after reading your drug may be your problem by dr.peter breggin I decided they may be doing me more harm than good-and he was right. They were. All those years of multiple different meds didnt make a lick of a difference for me. They made me worse and i thought I was inherently doing worse by my own accord-but i wasnt. It was the medication. More meditation, naturopathy, diet change, accupuncture, esoteric accupuncture, a few supplements, finding out i had pyrolle disorder which is where the blood produces excess pyrolles, a natural blood product and when that happens zinc and b6 bind together and are useless-seretonin cant be absorbed with a zinc deficiency-and this deficiency causes excess copper to be produce which acts as a neurotoxin. No psychiatrist ever helped me discover that. It was the naturopath-away from big pharma. But it all started with mindfulness and meditation.

Anonymous Fri, Nov 8th 2013 @ 11:39pm

Mindfulness is a key part of DBT, dialectical behavior therapy. DBT - check it out, really. It's worth it, in my opinion. It's unfortunate that it's not more available and accessible than it is.

Sanola Jerry Sat, Nov 9th 2013 @ 7:16am

It happens only when you are not taking regular sleep.Go and take regular sleep to solve this problem.

Sanola Jerry

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Anna Sun, Nov 10th 2013 @ 4:51pm

I can very highly reccommend Jack Kornfield's " A path with heart". As a first mindfullness book (not linked in any way to CBT as it was before the research linking minfulness to prevention of regression in depression). Very esay and comforting to read and certainly not prescriptive or asking us to do too much, it just slightly, but over a long time, resets the mind.

Anonymous Thu, Nov 14th 2013 @ 8:19am

I agree with you Julia, I like the small book by Padraig O'Morrain - "Light Mind" as it talks about taking minutes or even seconds to pay attention to your breathing, or senses, but trying to do this often throughout the day.

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