WHAT IS MINDFULNESS?
Mindfulness is living in the present moment and waking up to all the experiences life has to offer – just as it is.
The most commonly used definition is “Paying attention, in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgementally.” (Jon Kabat Zin)
When we learn mindfulness we become more aware of our mind, body and environment. We become more accepting of what we can and cannot control and learn to let go of stressful situations.
We use Mindfulness meditation to help us develop and naturally harness the skills of awareness, acceptance and increased focus.
HOW DOES MINDFULNESS HELP?
“It's made me slow down and calm down in my approach to my kids (ie. not shout and yell and lose my temper as I used to) and appreciate small things, where I didn't before”
“I’m practicing taking the pause between the trigger & choosing how to respond- it definitely helps”
“Now I find that when I sit down to work I think about your mindfulness sessions and it immediately calms me and fills me with a positive energy!”
These are some of the responses I have had from clients when I asked them to share one way that learning mindfulness with Hummingbird had helped them.
WHAT'S THE EVIDENCE?
Thanks to advances in clinical research in the field of mindfulness and brain imaging technology, there are a number of studies that demonstrate the benefits of learning and practicing Mindfulness.
I am a scientist at my core, I have a BSc Hons in Biochemistry with Psychology from Kent University, so this stuff presses my buttons, if it presses yours, check out some links to research below for some scientific evidence that supports the benefits of Mindfulness.
Other clinical benefits of Mindfulness (much of which is backed up by science) include:
Better communication and relationships
Improved physical health
MINDFULNESS IS FOR YOU IF
You feel like you're living in the past or pre-living the future?
You feel like everything is only getting half of you?
Stress & overwhelm overshadow the fun and joy in your life?
You feel like you never achieve anything?
You feel like life is passing you by?
You don't feel like you're living in the present moment?
You find it difficult to focus on what's happening now?
You're flying off the handle at the smallest things?
Negative thoughts cloud your whole experience?
WHEN IS MINDFULNESS NOT RIGHT FOR YOU?
Mindfulness practices may not be suitable for everyone. If you are experiencing significant distress or trauma as a result of a psychological / emotional problem or a recently diagnosed condition, or you have received a clinical diagnosis of a psychiatric illness or major depression, or you are experiencing suicidal thoughts or self-harming, then please seek advice from your doctor or an appropriate medically trained professional. You may benefit from a different kind of intervention. You might also like to visit www.mind.org.uk – which is an incredible resource.
Since Mindfulness found its way into the modern world, neuroscientists have conducted many controlled studies to explore the scientific evidence behind why this ancient practice of Mindfulness is so effective. The emergence of this scientific evidence marked the change in the adoption of Mindfulness in the western world and since then, Mindfulness has continued to grow in understanding, practice, evidence and awareness across the globe.
It’s well documented that all health conditions from diabetes to skin conditions, even cancer, have a stress component (Relaxation Revolution, by Herbert Benson and William Proctor). Therefore, a mind body approach that reduces stress can be beneficial to helping to heal and manage many diseases.
Check out below some of the studies that have blown my mind.
MINDFULNESS REDUCES STRESS & BURNOUT
A study of 113 public school teachers, showed that those who were assigned to an 8-week mindfulness course showed significant reductions in stress and burnout at a 3 month follow up after the course ended. Teachers in the Mindfulness group also showed greater improvements in a test of focused attention and working memory capacity that correlated with subjective increases in self-reported mindfulness over time.
HELPING PARENTS WITH AUTISM
A study led by researchers at Vanderbilt University Medical Center has found evidence that MBSR may offer benefits for parents that have children with autism. The parents receiving Mindfulness training showed less parental distress and fewer unhealthy parent-child interactions than the other group.
Weitlauf et al. Pediatrics April 2020, 145 (Supplement 1) S81-S92
MINDFULNESS SLOWS AGEING
A 2013 study found that even 15 minutes of meditating a day changes the expression of a number of genes. It switched on genes that help cells live longer and switches off genes that are involved in the inflammatory and stress responses.
Bhasin et al, (2013) PLoS ONE 8(5): e62817
MINDFULNESS MEDITATION BOOSTS IMMUNE RESPONSES
This study showed that an 8 week mindfulness meditation programme increased levels of antibodies to the flu vaccine compared to those who didn't meditate.