Mindfulness in Medicine

Learn the Inner Works of Meditation as a Tool for Healing

Learn Meditation as a Tool for Academic Achievement

    Key Points:
  1. Mindfulness vs. Pain
  2. Mindfulness in Science & Culture
  3. Mindfulness vs. Anxiety
  4. Mindfulness vs. Over Eating
  5. Mindfulness vs. Depression
  6. Mindfulness & Natural Immunity
  7. Comment on this Article
Author: Burt Goldman

How to use Mindfulness against Pain

For decades, Dalia Isicoff has suffered the agony of rheumatoid arthritis-joint pain, spinal fusion, multiple hip surgeries. Painkillers dull the aches, but it wasn't until she took a course at the University of Maryland's

Painkillers dull the aches, but it wasn't until she took a course at the University of Maryland's Center for Integrative Medicine that Isicoff discovered a powerful weapon inside her own body: her mind. Using a meditative practice called Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, or MBSR, Isicoff learned to acknowledge her pain, rather than fight it. Her negative and debilitating thought patterns - "This is getting worse," "I'm going to end up in a wheelchair" - began to dissipate, and she was able to cut back on her medication. The pain hasn't gone away, but "I view it as an ally now," she says. "Mindfulness is transformational."

What are Medical Professionals doing with Mindfulness Meditation?

With its roots in ancient Buddhist traditions, mindfulness is now gaining ground as an antidote for everything from type-A stress to chronic pain, depression and even the side effects of cancer treatment.

At the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, where MBSR was developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn, a leader in the field, 15,000 people have taken an eight-week course in the practice; hundreds more have signed up at medical clinics across the country. Studies have shown that mindfulness can reduce pain and anxiety.

Now researchers are using brain imaging and blood tests to study its biological effects, and early results are intriguing: this spring, the National Institutes of Health hosted its first conference on the topic. "People in the scientific community used to think that this was a lot of mystical mumbo jumbo," says psychologist Ruth Baer, of the University of Kentucky. "Now they're saying, 'Hey, we should start paying attention.'"

Paying attention is the very essence of mindfulness. In 45-minute meditations, participants learn to observe the whirring thoughts of the mind and the physical sensations in the body. The guiding principle is to be present moment to moment, to be aware of what's happening, but without critique or judgment.

It is not easy. Our "monkey mind," as Buddhists call the internal chaos, keeps us swinging from past regrets to future worries leaving little time for the here and now. First attempts may provoke frustration ("I'll never be able to do this"), impatience ("When will this be over?") and even banal mental sparks ("What am I going to make for dinner?").

The goal, however, is not to reach nirvana, but to observe the cacophony in a compassionate way, to accept it as transient, "like bubbles forming in a pot of water or weather patterns in the sky," says Kabat-Zinn.

Learn how Brainwave entrainment (BWE) can help you reduce pain and relieve other chronic ailments.

How does Mindfulness work against Anxiety?

The keystone of mindfulness is daily meditation, but the practice is intended to become a way of life. At Stanford University, Philippe Goldin encourages patients battling social anxiety disorder to take "meaningful pauses" throughout the day as a way to monitor and take charge of their fears and self-doubts.

"It breaks the circuit," says one participant. "I always thought that anxiety had me in its grip, but I realized it's the other way around. I have it in my grip. It's a matter of learning to let it go."

Learn How to relax at any given moment using this relaxation technique.

How does Mindfulness prevent Over Eating?

Inner control can be a potent tool in the fight against all sorts of chronic conditions. In a pilot study of 18 obese women, Jean Kristeller, director of the Center for the Study of Health, Religion and Spirituality at Indiana State University, found that mindfulness meditation, augmented with special eating meditations (slowly savoring the flavor of a piece of cheese, being aware of how much is enough), helped reduce binges from an average of four per week to one and a half.

Now Kristeller is wrapping up a larger study that she says confirms her earlier findings. Mindfulness helped participant Chuck Cooley, 43, identify anxiety as a trigger for overeating - and cut back on the pizza buffets. "Before, I was on automatic pilot," he says. Now "I can take my time and enjoy a smaller portion."

How does Mindfulness work against Depression?

Mindfulness takes you out of your same old patterns. You're no longer battling your mind in the boxer's ring. You're watching, with interest, from the stands. The detachment doesn't lead to passivity, but to new ways of thinking. This is especially helpful in depression, which plagues sufferers with relentless ruminations.

At least half of all patients who have had one or two episodes of clinical depression will relapse into another; the more episodes, the higher the risk. University of Toronto psychiatry professor, Zindel Segal, combines mindfulness with conventional cognitive behavioral therapy, teaching patients to observe sadness or unhappiness without judgment.

In a study of patients who had recovered from a depressive episode, Segal and colleagues found that 66 percent of those who learned mindfulness remained stable (no relapse) over a year, compared with 34 percent in a control group. Now Segal has a $2.1 million grant from the NIH to compare mindfulness against antidepressants as a maintenance therapy after relapse.

Segal's patient Suzanne Simoni, 47, says she has learned to identify the early signs of an emotional hurricane-fatigue, irritability, hopelessness-before it hits. "I have the chance to catch it earlier," she says. And possibly steer it away altogether.

Learn the most important ways depression manifests itself and the most effective cures.

How does Mindfulness help our Natural Immunity?

The biological impact of mindfulness on the brain, the blood, and the immune system is the next frontier in scientific research. In an intriguing study published several years ago, Jon Kabat-Zinn found that when patients with psoriasis listened to meditation tapes during ultraviolet-light therapy, they healed about four times faster than a control group.

In an effort to understand how this kind of dramatic response is possible, scientists are hunting down mindfulness's biological footprints. Kabat-Zinn and neuroscientist Richard Davidson, of the University of Wisconsin, found that after eight weeks of MBSR, a group of biotech employees showed a greater increase in activity in the left prefrontal cortex, the region of the brain associated with a happier state of mind, than colleagues who received no meditation training.

When the techies were given a flu vaccine, those with the greatest left-brain activation mounted the most vigorous antibody assault against the virus.

The University of Massachusetts' Mindfulness Center is studying the impact of mindfulness and diet on PSA levels in prostate cancer. Stanford's Goldin is taking brain images of social-anxiety patients to see if the practice affects emotional trigger points, like the amygdala, which processes fear.

At Maryland's Center for Integrative Medicine, director Dr. Brian Berman is tracking measures of inflammation, including gene expression, in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. For Dalia Isicoff, the payoff is already clear: "I'm at peace," she says. Her mind and her body, together.

Learn Immune system health nutrition for stopping stress related illnesses.

True Love is a form of Mindfulness. Learn How Mindfulness of Your True Love can help You

SIGN UP NOW as a Subscriber to HealingMindN's Way of the MindGate
To Discuss Mindfulness with Like Minded People

Tour Way of the Mind Gate Mailing List Group

Learn to connect to the Universal Mind
Learn Mindfulness of Mind, Body, and Soul When Training in Remote Viewing and Remote Influencing

Content Curation by Document modified on
Your Comments Are Welcome!

Social Navigation

  • Follow HealingMindN on Twitter
  • AddThis Social Bookmark Button
  • Healing MindN Power Circle feed
  • ↑ Grab this Headline Animator
  • Beyond Being: distinct brainwave patterns associated with intense experiences such as deep meditation, emotional detachment, spiritual experiences, lucid dreaming and even out-of-body experiences...

    Brainwave Entrainment Software: Media Center for Your Mind
    Brainwave Entrainment Software: Biofeedback
    Brainwave Entrainment Software
  • A Catalyst For Transformation

    A Course in Mind Power

    by Aaron Murakami

    A Course in Mind Power

    Get A Course in Mind Power
    Sample ebook: Increase Synchronicities in Your Life.

  • 10-day Mindfulness Meditation: Welcome to the 10-day mindfulness meditation introductory session. This session is designed by Jason Stephenson, founder of Relax Me Online Australia Pty Ltd and Meditation Masters TV. He has been involved in the meditation/relaxation music field for the past 15 years. "Meditation and affirmations have become a daily ritual to help change my health and mindset." Jason says.

  • Spiritual Cinema Circle