Mindfulness has several evidence-based applications. It has been used to treat individuals with conditions like PTSD, Major Depressive Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and chronic pain. Cultivating mindfulness has been sought after for the benefit of immune system support and stress reduction. The Greater Good Science Center at the University of Berkeley has compiled numerous studies that have shown practicing mindfulness, even for just a few weeks, can bring a variety of physical, psychological, and social benefits (3).
Current clinical applications such as Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy are being used to support individuals live healthier and more adaptive lives. MBSR teaches people to use their innate resources and abilities to respond more effectively to stress, pain, and illness (2). Historically, mindfulness has been prescribed as a one-size-fits-all antidote. However, in recent years specialist have begun to hone in and adapt techniques to treat individuals with different problems. Mindfulness is also a recommended tool for clinicians to prevent burnout, “empathy fatigue,” and secondary trauma. It cultivates qualities of empathy, compassion and attention that only add to the effectiveness of treatment for the patient. Hospitals around the country have already begun to adapt to a more mindful emergency room to help curtail burn out and disconnection (1).
Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) is an adaptation of MBSR; therapists teach clients how to recognize negative thought patterns that can cause a downward spiral into a depressed state. They do not avoid or eliminate negative emotions, instead, one learns to change their relationship with these emotions by practicing meditation and other mindfulness exercises. MBCT claims to transcend diagnosis, address underlying causes of suffering, and serve as an active ingredient alongside effective psychotherapies. It combines classical cognitive therapy with mindful meditation practices and attitudes. MBCT was designed specifically to help people who are prone to recurrent episodes of depression or unhappiness. The contributions of Zindel Segal, Mark Williams, and John Teasdale helped establish MBCT from the previous work of Jon Kabat-Zinn(4). Typical therapy is held in group session where the focus is on learning meditation techniques and the process of cognition known as the relationship between how you thinking and the way you feeling.
If you’re interested in learning more about the therapeutic applications for mindfulness, a great start would be to check out ” by Jon Kabat-Zinn. Visual/audio learners may find Dr. Ron Siegel’s "The Science of Mindfulness" talk at Google to be loaded with great knowledge on the subject. Brian Johnson’s “Optimize Interview: The Neuroscience of Meditation” with Richie Davidson is a great start for those wanting the hard science on mindfulness.
- Braganza, Shahina. “What We Can Learn from a Mindful Emergency Room.” Greater Good Magazine, 13 Sept. 2017, greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/what_we_can_learn_from_a_mindful_emergency_room
- “Mindfulness in Medicine - Introduction to Mindfulness.” University of Massachusetts Medical School, 5 Aug. 2015, www.umassmed.edu/cfm/mindfulness-in-medicine/intro-to-mindfulness/.
- “Which Mindfulness Skills Can Benefit You?” Greater Good, greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/which_mindfulness_skills_can_benefit_you….
- “Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 4 Oct. 2017, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mindfulness-based_cognitive_therapy.