Monthly Archives: December 2014

Scientific Research on the Effects of Mindfulness Based Approaches

A 2013 meta-analysis of mindfulness-based therapies (MBT), involving 209 studies and 12,145 participants, found that MBT showed “large and clinically significant effects in treating anxiety and depression”, with gains maintained at follow-up. These findings were similar to those obtained in previous meta-analyses.

A systematic study on the efficacy of various forms of meditation programs commissioned by the US Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, was published in 2014. After a review of 17,801 citations, involving 2,993 participants, it concluded that “Meditation programs, in particular mindfulness programs, reduce multiple negative dimensions of psychological stress.” The assessment found that “Mindfulness meditation programs improved multiple dimensions of negative affect, including anxiety, depression, and perceived stress/general distress … the effects were significant for anxiety and marginally significant for depression at the end of treatment, and these effects continued to be significant at 3-6 months for both anxiety and depression”

Jon Kabat-Zinn talks about the Attitude of Letting Go

“It is inevitable thing will arise that are unpleasant and we will want to push them away, and other things will arise that are pleasant and we will want to hold onto them, so Letting Go really means Letting Be, allowing things to be as the already are, and not getting too caught up with them having to be a certain way, when the evidence is they are already not that way…The breath can remind us it is a natural part of life to receive and then release, recieve and then let go”


Tilokal Lake – David Whyte

Tilokal Lake
(“The Frozen Lake”)

In this high place
it is as simple as this,
leave everything you know behind.

Step toward the cold surface,
say the old prayer of rough love
and open both arms.

Those who come with empty hands
will stare into the lake astonished
there in the cold light
reflecting cold snow

the true shape of your own face

~ David Whyte ~

Have yourself a Mindful Christmas

Opinion: Have yourself a mindful Christmas

Some tips to help you enjoy a peaceful and magical celebration.

Joanne O’Malley

THERE IS A chill and a sparkle in the air and an aroma of pine leaves. Leaves of trees are piled on footpaths, wistful romantic tunes jingle – “I’ll be home for Christmas”, colourful lights twinkle, people bustle. I’m already waking up at night… excited, expectant, planning… Oh no, not again!

It’s so easy to get swept up and lost in the nostalgia, the idealism, the madness, the hype. Then, our actions become ‘mindless’ reactions – we overdo the decorations, presents, food, parties because we mistake the illusion of Christmas for reality. Of course, we all want the sharing, the caring. We want to experience the warmth, fun and celebration at Christmastime but our tendency is to focus our energy in all the wrong places so often it turns out quite differently… tension, strained relationships, family fights, sadness and loneliness.

But, how can we avoid the pitfalls and make the most of whatever we have? And, what about the people who are not excited or looking forward to the next few weeks. Maybe you are alone, or have lost someone dear, or you are unwell or dealing with a challenge – is there any help out there, you might ask?

Simplicity is the answer

Whoever you are and whatever your story, ‘mindfulness’ or your capacity to be aware, right here and now means you stay with yourself and your experience as it unfolds, moment by moment with kindness, curiosity, openness and acceptance. So, instead of ‘having our buttons pushed’ and ‘reacting’ unconsciously to ongoing events, circumstances and other people, we stay open.

Perceiving with all of our senses (really looking, listening, feeling, smelling, tasting) takes our attention out of the stream of thinking (so we don’t get ‘lost’ in the story of what ‘must’ be done for instance) and we see reality as it is with lots of choices. Rather than worrying about what has happened or might happen, we deal with what is happening and our ‘presence’ (fully here) means we respond effectively and appreciate more fully.

When we are mindful we slow down and see the bigger picture. We realise that each moment (not just the moments on 25 December) is precious and an opportunity to re-write patterns and habits that are no longer serving us. We choose to re-engage with living, savouring the ordinary stuff like good company, loving relationships, delicious food, fun, laughter, music.

Research supports mindfulness

Research has shown that it is less ‘the event’ that makes us happy – than what we bring to it. So, when we get caught up in ‘rushing around’, ‘doing too much’, ‘getting anxious about having everything just so’, we become stressed and unable to relax and enjoy ourselves.

However, when we allow some space to replenish ourselves, we increase activity in the parts of our brain associated with positive emotion, joy, a sense of enthusiasm and decrease the activity in the areas associated with depression, rumination, excessive self concern as well as fear and anger.

Consciously choose happiness

You can consciously choose to make some space to cultivate awareness or mindfulness even if you have real difficulties to deal with. Mindfulness can help you to:

  • Stop and settle
  • Focus on what matters
  • Make some skilful choices
  • Manage anxiety, stress, loss and fears
  • Deal compassionately with self and others
  • Come to your senses
  • Move your body
  • Enjoy silence
  • Give generously
  • Appreciate fully
  • Bring it back to self
  • Savour moment by moment

Jon Kabat-Zinn talks about the Attitude of Patience

“…To actively cultivate patience is a recognition that things unfold in their own way, and that in some profound way things cannot be hurried…When we are always rushing to be some place else the by-product of that is that we are never where we actually are, which is a tremendous sorrow and a tremendous loss.

Sometimes we are impatient with other people, impatient at work, impatient to get things done but this wisdom of patience is profoundly restorative and healing and is akin to recognising, as some children don’t when they try to make the butterfly come out before its time from the chrysalis, that certain things cant be hurried but do unfold in their own time.

So if we truly learn to be patient with ourselves, then we are inhabiting the present moment in ways that have great comfort and great profundity of both acceptance and wisdom associated with them.”