Tag Archives: Mindfulness Meditation

Study Suggesting Meditation More Effective Than Anti-depressants

mindfulness based cognitive therapy

mindfulness based cognitive therapy

A recent research study, carried out jointly by researchers from the University of Exeter and King’s College, University of London, demonstrated that mindfulness meditation can be more effective at treating depression than anti-depressant medication.

mindfulness - the art of living in the present

mindfulness

In the study, which comprised 123 volunteers suffering from depression, the participants were split into two groups :

GROUP 1 : the participants in this group were given a therapy called mindfulness based cognitive therapy (this therapy combines meditation with traditional cognitive therapy and focuses upon addressing negative thinking patterns and helping the person to concentrate more on the present, rather than obsessing about the past and the future)

GROUP 2 : the participants in this group were treated with anti-depressant medication.

This trial lasted for 8 weeks. By the end of this period, those in Group 1 had been taught meditation techniques they could practice on their own without the assistance of a therapist.

mindfulness meditation - the art of living in the present

mindfulness meditation – the art of living in the present

RESULTS :

At the end of the 8 week period, those in Group 1 reported greater control over their negative thinking and over their negative emotions. Furthermore, when the two groups were followed up 15 months later, 60% of those in Group 2 had suffered a relapse compared to just 47% in Group 1. Also, those in Group 1 reported an overall higher quality of life and a greater ability to derive pleasure from life than those in Group 2.

CONCLUSION :

Professor William Kuyken, who led the study, summarized the implications of the findings by explaining that whilst those who take medication for their depression are highly vulnerable to relapse when they cease to take it, mindfulness based cognitive therapy teaches people skills to manage their illness for life. He went on to say that this form of meditation therapy could be a most viable alternative treatment for many of the three-and-a-half million people currently suffering from clinical depression in the United Kingdom.

Indeed, studies are now being carried out that suggest anti-depressant treatment may not be as effective as once thought – for example, a recent study suggested that anti-depressants work little better than placebos (click here to read my article on this).

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Above eBooks by David Hosier MSc available on Amazon for immediate download at $4.99 (except Workbook priced at $9.99) CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE.

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

Physical Symptoms of Stress and How to Reduce Them

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Find resources to reduce stress by clicking banner above.

If we have experienced a traumatic childhood, it is frequently the case that our capacity to deal with stress as adults is seriously diminished (click here to read one of my articles about this).

When we experience stress, it almost invariably involves unpleasant physical symptoms; these include :

– dry mouth/throat

– upset stomach

– frequent urges to pass urine

– muscular twitches

– fatigue

– inability to settle/restlessness/fidgeting

– tingling sensations in hands/feet

– indigestion

– trembling

– muscle weakness

– muscle tension

– shallow, fast breathing – also known as hyperventilating  (this worsens the anxiety so it is extremely useful to learn techniques to help control this – see below)

– dilated pupils

– sweating

– loss or increase in appetite

– sweating

– rapid, uneven or pounding heart beat

– a feeling of nausea

– headaches

– sleep difficulties

– over-alertness/feeling extremely ‘on edge’ (this is also sometimes referred to as ‘hypervigilance’ or ‘hyperarousal’)

– aches and pains (eg in the back)

This is not an exhaustive list, but covers most of the main physical symptoms people tend to experience when suffering from the effects of excessive stress.

HOW TO DEAL WITH THE PHYSICAL SYMPTOMS OF STRESS :

It sounds too simple to be true, but one of the most effective methods for dealing with the physical symptoms of stress, such as those listed above, is to use controlled breathing techniques.

Normally, of course, breathing is an unconscious process. However, by taking conscious control, for a short period of time, over how we breathe, we can very significantly ameliorate the unpleasant physical sensations which can accompany stress. By changing how we breathe, we can dramatically change how the act of breathing makes our bodies feel.

The beneficial breathing technique which I refer to has been called by various different names – ‘diaphragmatic breathing’, ‘paced respiration’ or, rather less grandly, ‘deep breathing.’ Its physiological effect is simple but effective ; it increases oyygen levels in our bodies and decreases levels of carbon dioxide.

WHAT ARE THE MAIN BENEFITS OF THIS TYPE OF BREATHING TECHNIQUE?

Research is now showing that this conscious breathing technique is much more powerful, and has far more benefits, than people had, hitherto, been aware of. These are :

A) the parasympathetic nervous system is stimulated into action and this counters the ‘fight or flight response’ triggered by our sympathetic nervous system

B) it reduces the physical damage stress can do to the body by lowering levels of cortisol (cortisol – a hormone – levels can dangerously increase in response to excessive stress)

C) it increases levels of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine which helps to keep us calm

D) it lowers our blood pressure and our heart rate thus lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease

E) new research now suggests it actually helps a part of the brain involved in attentional processes to grow larger

F) recent research also provides evidence that it helps to improve our immune system

THE DEEP BREATHING TECHNIQUE :

Below I describe a simple breathing technique that helps to counter the effects of stress :

1) Get into as comfortable a position as possible

2) Close eyes

3) Drop jaw and shoulders

4) Allow muscles, especially if you can feel that some muscle groups are particularly tense, to relax as much as possible. Don’t worry if they do not feel completely relaxed.

5) Breathe SLOWLY and DEEPLY, IN THROUGH NOSE, OUT THROUGH MOUTH

6) Try to FILL LUNGS as much as possible by EXPANDING ABDOMEN and RAISING RIBCAGE

7) HOLD BREATH FOR 3-6 SECONDS

8) BREATHE OUT SLOWLY AND TRY TO COMPLETELY EMPTY LUNGS (allow abdomen and ribcage to relax to help with this)

Sessions should be at least 5 minutes (although even a shorter length of time is helpful) and the breathing exercise should be carried out without straining.

Mindfulness meditation therapy is becoming increasingly recognized, due to recent and current research being conducted at universities world wide, as being extremely effective for treating stress, anxiety and many other conditions.

RESOURCES :

MP3s :

MINDFULNESS TRAINING MP3 – CLICK HERE

STRESS MANAGEMENT MP3 – CLICK HERE

E-BOOKS :

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Above e-books available for instant download on Amazon. $4.99 each.(Other titles available).CLICK HERE.

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

Mindfulness Meditation: An Escape Route Away from Obsessive, Negative Ruminations.

 

mindfulness meditation

Mindfulness :

MINDFULNESS is a very effective and evidence-based therapy for the treatment of anxiety, depression and other conditions related to childhood trauma. Mindfulness helps individuals to develop the skill to DELIBERATELY FOCUS ATTENTION AND AWARNESS on THE PRESENT MOMENT. WHILST BEING INTENSELY AWARE OF THE PRESENT MOMENT, MINDFULNESS TEACHES US TO ACCEPT THINGS AS THEY ARE IN A NON-JUDGMENTAL WAY.

Mindfulness helps us to become aware of our CURRENT experience, of things we would normally take for granted. These may include becoming aware of our breathing, of the feeling of our clothes against our skin, the furniture on which we sit, the feel of the temperature in the room etc; anything, in fact, which we are presently experiencing through one of our five senses. It teaches us, as I have said, to accept things as they are rather than to fret about want them to be. We may, too, become aware of our thoughts; again, we are encouraged to accept them non-judgmentally – to simply observe them floating through our minds in a detached manner and not get caught up in them.

Negative Ruminations :

This state of mind of existing intensely in the present, accepting it as it is in non-judgmentally, is, at its best (it takes time to master the skill), the polar opposite of obsessive, negative ruminative thinking which can be so painful and destructive.

mindfulness meditation

Below, I summarize the principles which underpin MINDFULNESS :

1) IT IS INTENTIONAL – it helps us to become aware of current reality and the choices which are open to us. This is in direct contrast to rumination (in which we are caught up and trapped in the destructive downwaed spiral of our automatic negative thoughts).

2) IT IS EXPERIENTIAL – mindfulness trains us to experience the present moment (unlike rumination, which fills us with concerns about the past and the future and causes us to be preoccupied with abstract thoughts detached from present experience).

3) IT IS NON-JUDGMENTAL – mindfulness helps us to accept things as they are right now rather than to get caught up in judgments and frustrations about how we think things should be.

By cultivating MINDFULNESS, it stops us from becoming stuck in a futile cycle of depressive and anxiety creating negative ruminations; instead, it helps us to develop new and wiser ways to relate to our actual experience IN THE PRESENT MOMENT.

However, MINDFULNESS is about more than noticing things around us that we had previously taken for granted and ignored; it also helps us to develop awareness of THE HABIT OF A PARTICULAR STATE OF MIND WE USED TO FIND OURSELVES IN, WHICH GOT US STUCK AND CAUGHT UP IN RUMINATIONS DESTRUCTIVE TO US AND TO OUR EMOTIONAL LIVES. The skill of mindfulness allows us to DISENGAGE from such destructive, ruminative thinking and shift to an enormously healthier frame of mind which frees us from our self-defeating emotional struggles. Mindfulness allows us to accept the different emotions which drift through our minds non-judgmentally and with self-compassion.

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Above eBook now available for immediate download on Amazon. CLICK HERE (Other titles available).

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

Mindfulness : A Very Effective Technique for Treating Conditions Related to Childhood Trauma

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What Is Mindfulness?

 

MINDFULNESS is an exciting technique, its effectiveness supported by much research evidence, which is now becoming very popular as a tool for the treatment of conditions related to childhood trauma, including depression, anxiety, difficulties regulating emotions and borderline personality disorder (BPD). It derives from Buddhist philosophy.

The technique teaches people to improve their coping ability and resilience by concentrating on :

– how they breathe

– observing

– accepting

– adopting a non-judgmental attitude

Individuals are encouraged to just accept and observe their thoughts, their physical sensations (perhaps caused by anxiety) and their emotions as they come and go in the mind.

mindfulness for childhood trauma

The technique emphasizes the importance of just observing these phenomenon in a detached way, stepping back from them, avoiding engaging with them or getting caught up in them. A metaphor for this would be watching leaves on a stream float by.

Mindfulness is also all about being intensely involved in the MOMENT (rather than thinking about the past or future). It is about accepting the moment as it is and being fully involved in it – for example, becoming aware of our breath going in and out, the feel of the temperature on our skin, the feel of the seat we are sitting in, the feel of the clothes against our skin, the colour of the walls – everything, in fact, which is currently impinging upon the senses. By existing in the moment, unconcerned by the past or present, we can just dispassionately, non-judgmentally ‘watch’ our concerns and worries as they pass through our mind.

In this way we can detach ourselves from stressors, and, with practice, we can prevent our previously unhelpful, ‘automatic responses’ to stress. The technique also encourages us, as we simply observe, in a detached manner, thoughts and feelings passing through our minds, to label them. For example, ‘worry’, ‘fear’ etc; the reason for this is explained below:

NEUROLOGICAL EXPLANATIONS ABOUT WHY MINDFULNESS WORKS:

As I have already said, there is a lot of evidence showing MINDFULNESS to be a very effective coping technique. In terms of how the brain works, this has been explained in the following way: – labelling our emotions rather than engaging with them activates the PREFRONTAL CORTEX (an area of the brain) which reduces anxiety – a high level of MINDFULNESS correlates positively with the level of neural activity in the PREFRONTAL CORTEX; this has the effect of dampening down acivity in the AMYGDALA (high activity in the brain area known as the AMYGDALA is associated with intense emotions); in this way, we become much calmer. – the effects of practicing MINDFULNESS, and the subsequent effects on the brain given above, result in us being able to achieve much greater emotional regulation (emotional control).

As well as reducing anxiety, depression and helping us to master our emotions, MINDFULNESS, research has shown, also benefits the immune system, helps people control obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and is also used to help control chronic pain. Furthermore, people who continue to practice mindfulness have been found to have stronger coping skills and greater resilience than others.

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).