Be Mindful, Be Healthy
09 January 2020
Yesterday was history
Tomorrow is mystery
Today is a gift, The PRESENT
-Agnes Baker Pilgrim-
I was a little boy when I first had the habit of closing my eyes and observing the sound around me with curiosity and appreciation. I like the self-taught method as it gives me a sense of calmness. It wasn’t until many years later that I discovered what I was doing is an ancient psychospiritual and a scientifically sound method for wellbeing – mindfulness.
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is a practice that is found in various spiritual traditions, especially Buddhism, in which it’s a meditation practice known as ‘Sati.’ In the secular world, it was first applied in behavioural medicine in the 1970s in the form of an 8-week Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program for stress and chronic pain management by Professor Dr Jon. Kabat-Zinn at the University of Massachusetts Medical Centre, United States.
To date, several definitions of mindfulness have evolved in the world. In the MINDFULGym program, which was developed for the Malaysian community, I define mindfulness as a form of attention or awareness training. Being mindful means training our mind to pay attention and relate to present moment experience (e.g., sight, sound, body sensation, thought, emotion, urge) with an attitude of kindness, a beginner’s mind, and wisdom.
There are various types of mindfulness-based practice:
- Mindful Body Stretching
- Mindful Breathing
- Body Scan & Kindness
- Mindful Eating & Photography
- Gratitude Workout, etc.
Why practice mindfulness?
Mindfulness is good for your mind and body. Image source: pixabay.com/illustrations/heart-curve-love-heal-health-799138/
Regular mindfulness practise is good for our physical and emotional health. Mindfulness training helps to cope with heart diseases. Among patients with coronary heart disease, participation in mindfulness training in the form of an 8-week MBSR program resulted in significant reductions of anxiety and depressive symptoms, perceived stress, blood pressure, and body mass index (Parswani, Sharma et al. 2013). In a systematic review of 209 scientific studies (Khoury, Lecomte et al. 2013), the researchers from Canada and the United States concluded that mindfulness-based therapy is effective for reducing stress, anxiety, and depression.
Other scientifically supported benefits of regular mindfulness practice include:
- Better sleep and the ability to relax.
- Greater ability to concentrate and pay attention.
- Enhanced mood, self-esteem, and happiness.
- Stronger emotional resilience and anger management.
- Relief from stress-related physical symptoms, e.g., a headache.
- Increased immunity and slow down ageing.
- Improved problem-solving skills and creativity.
- More self-compassion and empathy in relationships.
- Increased productivity at work.
- More happiness and peace of mind.
How to apply mindfulness for the treatment of mental illness?
Mindfulness can be used to support the treatment of mental illness. Image source: https://pixabay.com/photos/meditate-meditation-yoga-relaxation-4246266/
For general health and wellness, you can learn mindfulness in many ways. For example, you can refer to many good online resources and workbooks related to mindfulness. But if you’re suffering from a mental illness like anxiety, panic, and depressive disorders, you’ll likely need extra support in learning mindfulness. There are several misconceptions about the use of mindfulness for mental health. Therefore, for people with a mental illness, it's better to learn mindfulness under the guidance of a mental health professional who is trained to integrate mindfulness in psychotherapy. The mindfulness-based psychotherapy includes Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), and Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (DBT).
Schedule an appointment for psychological assessment and a personalized mindfulness-based treatment plan with our Behavioural Health Centre now: https://www.sunwaymedical.com/centres-of-excellence/behavioural-health-centre
- Khoury, B., T. Lecomte, G. Fortin, M. Masse, P. Therien, V. Bouchard, M. A. Chapleau, K. Paquin and S. G. Hofmann (2013). "Mindfulness-based therapy: A comprehensive meta-analysis." Clinical Psychology Review 33(6): 763-771.
- Parswani, M. J., M. P. Sharma and S. S. Iyengar (2013). "Mindfulness-based stress reduction program in coronary heart disease: A randomized control trial." International Journal of Yoga 6: 111-117.