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Mindfulness: Science-based practice to change your brain and improve body and mind

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Piecake

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I have only recently started doing mindfulness, so I won't be much help besides informing GAF what it is and how it can help, and I have a feeling that it could benefit a lot of people here on GAF.

What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness means maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment.

Mindfulness also involves acceptance, meaning that we pay attention to our thoughts and feelings without judging them—without believing, for instance, that there’s a “right” or “wrong” way to think or feel in a given moment. When we practice mindfulness, our thoughts tune into what we’re sensing in the present moment rather than rehashing the past or imagining the future.

Why Practice Mindfulness?

Studies have shown that practicing mindfulness, even for just a few weeks, can bring a variety of physical, psychological, and social benefits. Here are some of these benefits, which extend across many different settings.
  • Mindfulness is good for our bodies: A seminal study found that, after just eight weeks of training, practicing mindfulness meditation boosts our immune system’s ability to fight off illness.
  • Mindfulness is good for our minds: Several studies have found that mindfulness increases positive emotions while reducing negative emotions and stress. Indeed, at least one study suggests it may be as good as antidepressants in fighting depression and preventing relapse.
  • Mindfulness changes our brains: Research has found that it increases density of gray matter in brain regions linked to learning, memory, emotion regulation, and empathy.
    Mindfulness helps us focus: Studies suggest that mindfulness helps us tune out distractions and improves our memory and attention skills.
  • Mindfulness fosters compassion and altruism: Research suggests mindfulness training makes us more likely to help someone in need and increases activity in neural networks involved in understanding the suffering of others and regulating emotions. Evidence suggests it might boost self-compassion as well.
  • Mindfulness enhances relationships: Research suggests mindfulness training makes couples more satisfied with their relationship, makes each partner feel more optimistic and relaxed, and makes them feel more accepting of and closer to one another.

It’s been accepted as a useful therapy for anxiety and depression for around a decade, and mindfulness websites like GetSomeHeadSpace.com are attracting millions of subscribers. It’s being explored by schools, pro sports teams and military units to enhance performance, and is showing promise as a way of helping sufferers of chronic pain, addiction and tinnitus, too. There is even some evidence that mindfulness can help with the symptoms of certain physical conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome, cancer, and HIV.

Yet until recently little was known about how a few hours of quiet reflection each week could lead to such an intriguing range of mental and physical effects. Now, as the popularity of mindfulness grows, brain imaging techniques are revealing that this ancient practice can profoundly change the way different regions of the brain communicate with each other – and therefore how we think – permanently.

MRI scans show that after an eight-week course of mindfulness practice, the brain’s “fight or flight” center, the amygdala, appears to shrink. This primal region of the brain, associated with fear and emotion, is involved in the initiation of the body’s response to stress. As the amygdala shrinks, the pre-frontal cortex – associated with higher order brain functions such as awareness, concentration and decision-making – becomes thicker.

The “functional connectivity” between these regions – i.e. how often they are activated together – also changes. The connection between the amygdala and the rest of the brain gets weaker, while the connections between areas associated with attention and concentration get stronger.

The scale of these changes correlate with the number of hours of meditation practice a person has done, says Adrienne Taren, a researcher studying mindfulness at the University of Pittsburgh. “The picture we have is that mindfulness practice increases one’s ability to recruit higher order, pre-frontal cortex regions in order to down-regulate lower-order brain activity,” she says.

In other words, our more primal responses to stress seem to be superseded by more thoughtful ones.

Researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH) have proposed a new model that shifts how we think about mindfulness. Rather than describing mindfulness as a single dimension of cognition, the researchers demonstrate that mindfulness actually involves a broad framework of complex mechanisms in the brain.
In essence, they have laid out the science behind mindfulness.

The researchers highlight six neuropsychological processes that are active mechanisms in the brain during mindfulness and which support S-ART. These processes include 1) intention and motivation, 2) attention regulation, 3) emotion regulation, 4) extinction and reconsolidation, 5) pro-social behavior, and 6) non-attachment and de-centering.

"Through continued practice, the person can develop a psychological distance from any negative thoughts and can inhibit natural impulses that constantly fuel bad habits," said David Vago, PhD, BWH Functional Neuroimaging Laboratory, Department of Psychiatry, and lead study author.

Vago also states that continued practice can also increase empathy and eliminate our attachments to things we like and aversions to things we don't like
.

How to Cultivate Mindfulness

Jon Kabat-Zinn emphasizes that although mindfulness can be cultivated through formal meditation, that’s not the only way. “It’s not really about sitting in the full lotus, like pretending you’re a statue in a British museum,” he says in this Greater Good video. “It’s about living your life as if it really mattered, moment by moment by moment by moment.”
Here are a few key components of practicing mindfulness that Kabat-Zinn and others identify:
  • Pay close attention to your breathing, especially when you’re feeling intense emotions.
    Notice—really notice—what you’re sensing in a given moment, the sights, sounds, and smells that ordinarily slip by without reaching your conscious awareness.
  • Recognize that your thoughts and emotions are fleeting and do not define you, an insight that can free you from negative thought patterns.
  • Tune into your body’s physical sensations, from the water hitting your skin in the shower to the way your body rests in your office chair.
To develop these skills in everyday life, you can try these exercises used in Kabat-Zinn’s MBSR program and elsewhere:


Links:
http://blogs.scientificamerican.com...does-mindfulness-meditation-do-to-your-brain/
http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/topic/mindfulness/definition
Youtube Video: Becoming Conscious: The Science of Mindfulness
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121029161452.htm
http://marc.ucla.edu/body.cfm?id=22

I have been listening to this on audible and it is quite good.

The Science of Mindfulness: A Research-Based Path to Well-Being
 
Jan 31, 2011
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This stuff gets a little hokey for me at times, but a lot of the principles are good. I'll take a look at some these in a bit.

I push the idea of metacognition with my students, considering them to think about their own thought processes to see how they come to conclusions about things as that helps them to discover the best way to go about analyzing topics.
 

watershed

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Mindfulness is pretty big in teacher education at the moment. I've been doing it for a while now and it's pretty sweet.
 

sandalphon

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They do these mindfulness exercises at my workplace, during team meetings.

I always struggle not to fall asleep. But gotta admit that shit is so zen, man.
 

Piecake

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This stuff gets a little hokey for me at times, but a lot of the principles are good. I'll take a look at some these in a bit.

I push the idea of metacognition with my students, considering them to think about their own thought processes to see how they come to conclusions about things as that helps them to discover the best way to go about analyzing topics.

Just because some of it might be a bit hokey doesnt mean that it doesnt work ;)

I think the only mindfulness exercise that could be considered hokey is loving-kindness. If that doesnt float your boat, you could always just focus on the focus/attention mindfullness excercises, which you should be doing anyway for the first several weeks.

Mindfulness is pretty big in teacher education at the moment. I've been doing it for a while now and it's pretty sweet.

Yea, there has been some research that it can lead to some significant benefits if it is used as a universal program in school

http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/research_round_up_school_based_mindfulness_programs
 

jblank83

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I've been doing this since I read the Dhali Lama's books back in the early 00s.

Mindful meditation is an old Buddhist practice. It's more brain training than religious. Recommended for just about anyone.
 
Dec 9, 2010
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Mindfulness is good for our minds: Several studies have found that mindfulness increases positive emotions while reducing negative emotions and stress. Indeed, at least one study suggests it may be as good as antidepressants in fighting depression and preventing relapse.
Bullshit... I'm depressed as fuck
 

Red

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The best description of mindfulness Ive heard is that it is like learning to be good company with yourself. Treat yourself like you would a loved one. That's really all there is to it. Observe yourself, understand yourself, take the time to listen.
 

xbhaskarx

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Welcome to MindHead
 

umop_3pisdn

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I contemplate the universe and the nature of existence every time I shower.

That has nothing to do with mindfulness. The most succinct descriptions of this practice still come from the Buddhist discourses. Meditation (or Mindfulness) is just applying three mental skills or faculties in a balanced way. One is an attentional faculty that maintains a quality of 'undistractability' (sati). Another is the noticing or witnessing factor that is commonly attributed to mindfulness, it's just a capacity for vigilance (sampajanna). The third is the careful and appropriate balance of effort (appamada). There's really nothing mystical about the fundamental practice itself, it's just applying mental faculties that we already have and necessarily use all the time to even just have conscious experience at all, but they're applied in a more particular and deliberate way.
 

Piecake

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I've been doing this since I read the Dhali Lama's books back in the early 00s.

Mindful meditation is an old Buddhist practice. It's more brain training than religious. Recommended for just about anyone.

Sounds kind of... Woo-ish, but I'll check it out. Thanks for the resources!

This is pretty much why I stressed the science behind mindfulness. Without the science, I don't think it is very convincing to people who are skeptical or dismissive of 'hippy, alternative, new-age' practices that most people will associate mindfulness with (I am also one of those dismissive skeptics). The scientific evidence is what convinced me to start doing it
 

umop_3pisdn

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Scientific evidence? It's all about marketing the benefits.

FWIW, as a moderately experienced meditator, I'm pretty skeptical too. A lot of this research is extremely provisional and probably serves to get more funding and attention for continued research. I think the most important benefits of meditation are already self-evident. Meditation is a practice in self-regulation, 'taming the mind', as a process, is almost exactly synonymous with what it has to offer people. The narrative being created about it being good for everything from insomnia to mild cognitive impairment to loneliness seems like a really carefully curated image that really doesn't present the whole picture.
 

DogWelder

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Just because some of it might be a bit hokey doesnt mean that it doesnt work ;)

I think the only mindfulness exercise that could be considered hokey is loving-kindness. If that doesnt float your boat, you could always just focus on the focus/attention mindfullness excercises, which you should be doing anyway for the first several weeks.

Yea, there has been some research that it can lead to some significant benefits if it is used as a universal program in school

http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/research_round_up_school_based_mindfulness_programs
Loving-kindness is not mindfulness though. Mindfulness is insight meditation, which is meant to cultivate an understanding of the mind. Mindfulness was originally developed as an exercise to see into the truth of reality (this is what some people find hokey, because they think there is no such thing beyond their narrow perspective of the Universe). Loving-kindness is a way to enhance compassion, because insight without compassion can lead to anhedonia.
 

DogWelder

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So we're not sensing our present moments as right or wrong based on past experiences, we're sensing and feeling how we feel based on how it makes us feel right at that moment?

I mean, yeah, it sounds like it'll generate compassion and empathy, but it also sounds like short-sighted and impulsive thinking. Not that the two groups are not mutually exclusive, or that it's necessarily wrong, but it's the impression I'm getting.

Am I understanding this correctly? It's telling you to live in the moment, and take time to enjoy your life right now instead of being constantly worried by other things.
Mindfulness is impossible to explain conceptually, because it is an experiential thing, and understanding of many experiences defy concepts and words. Think about a DMT trip. When you hear people talk about their trip, about ego death, about entities, about "being the Universe", about traversing dimensions, etc. is that something that can be known to your experience with just words if you have never done the drug before? Of course not. So it is with mindfulness. Because by nature, it is transcendence of the mind. It is transcendence of thought. Because you become conscious of thought itself doing the practice. If you are aware of thought, what is that awareness in the first place? The awareness cannot be thought, because consciousness cannot be an object unto itself. Play with this idea. See what you find.
 

umop_3pisdn

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Loving-kindness is not mindfulness though. Mindfulness is insight meditation, which is meant to cultivate an understanding of the mind. Mindfulness was originally developed as an exercise to see into the truth of reality (this is what some people find hokey, because they think there is no such thing beyond their narrow perspective of the Universe). Loving-kindness is a way to enhance compassion, because insight without compassion can lead to anhedonia.

Mindfulness as it is often described is actually alertness or clear comprehension (sampajanna). Sampajanna and vipassana aren't the same thing. Vipassana is a very specific result of sampajanna, if it is applied a certain way (and it needn't be). Metta absolutely requires sampajanna, otherwise you would have no awareness of what you were doing. The reason it doesn't work for vipassana is it is a conceptual object, and not a 'real' object, thus you can't use it to observe the three characteristics.

Vipassana is directly seeing the three marks of existence (or emptiness, which is the same thing) in all experiential phenomena. In my experience it is observed as a nearly imperceptible variation (sort of like an oscillation or 'flicker') that is present in all modes of perception itself. A direct consequence of this is that it destroys "spiritual materialism". You realize that our perceptions of everything aren't in fact solid (this is seeing impermanence), and as a consequence all things aren't really 'things', but are rather appearances that lack any intrinsic identity (no self). Reality is revealed to be like a hologram, a mode of appearance with no real solidity, all through a mode of direct perception.

Seeing things as they are in Buddhism is really just that. You try to observe all real phenomena with as much speed and finesse as is possible. Most forms of mindfulness meditation are only training to develop this faculty. Once this faculty is developed enough, and your ability to notice is fast enough, then you can see "impermanence". But having or practicing mindfulness and seeing impermanence are not the same thing. The latter requires a fair bit of practice.

So we're not sensing our present moments as right or wrong based on past experiences, we're sensing and feeling how we feel based on how it makes us feel right at that moment?

I mean, yeah, it sounds like it'll generate compassion and empathy, but it also sounds like short-sighted and impulsive thinking. Not that the two groups are not mutually exclusive, or that it's necessarily wrong, but it's the impression I'm getting.

Am I understanding this correctly? It's telling you to live in the moment, and take time to enjoy your life right now instead of being constantly worried by other things.

The key-word is non attached awareness, so it's not a matter of desiring to live in the moment. In a lot of ways it can be seen as correcting against our tendency to be utterly distracted from ourselves and our experiences.

But to make it more complex, accomplishment in meditation can result in reduced motivation, for some people. But often the perception is that you realize your conditions for happiness were a lot simpler than you thought, so you don't see the same reason to strive that you used to.
 

DogWelder

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Mindfulness as it is often described is actually alertness or clear comprehension (sampajanna). Sampajanna and vipassana aren't the same thing. Vipassana is a very specific result of sampajanna, if it is applied a certain way (and it needn't be). Metta absolutely requires sampajanna, otherwise you would have no awareness of what you were doing. The reason it doesn't work for vipassana is it is a conceptual object, and not a 'real' object, thus you can't use it to observe the three characteristics.

Vipassana is directly seeing the three marks of existence (or emptiness, which is the same thing) in all experiential phenomena. In my experience it is observed as a nearly imperceptible variation (sort of like an oscillation or 'flicker') that is present in all modes of perception itself. A direct consequence of this is that it destroys "spiritual materialism". You realize that our perceptions of everything aren't in fact solid (this is seeing impermanence), and as a consequence all things aren't really 'things', but are rather appearances that lack any intrinsic identity (no self). Reality is revealed to be like a hologram, a mode of appearance with no real solidity, all through a mode of direct perception.

Seeing things as they are in Buddhism is really just that. You try to observe all real phenomena with as much speed and finesse as is possible. Most forms of mindfulness meditation are only training to develop this faculty. Once this faculty is developed enough, and your ability to notice is fast enough, then you can see "impermanence". But having or practicing mindfulness and seeing impermanence are not the same thing. The latter requires a fair bit of practice.



The key-word is non attached awareness, so it's not a matter of desiring to live in the moment. In a lot of ways it can be seen as correcting against our tendency to be utterly distracted from ourselves and our experiences.

But to make it more complex, accomplishment in meditation can result in a reduced motivation, for some people. But often the perception is that you realize your conditions for happiness were a lot simpler than you thought, so you don't see the same reason to strive that you used to.
I'm going to be honest, Buddhism is too convoluted for me. Goenka did a great job in bringing insight meditation to the Western world and simplifying the perversions of what were probably very simple teachings in the first place. It seems that with Buddhism it is very easy to get lost in the concepts and not in the practice. Too easy to mistake the finger pointing to the Moon for the Moon.
 

umop_3pisdn

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I'm going to be honest, Buddhism is too convoluted for me. Goenka did a great job in bringing insight meditation to the Western world and simplifying the perversions of what were probably very simple teachings in the first place. It seems that with Buddhism it is very easy to get lost in the concepts and not in the practice. Too easy to mistake the finger pointing to the Moon for the Moon.

So it's simple to see things as they really are? On the one hand that is actually true, but on the other, if it were so simple, why aren't we all doing it right now? :p

What I wrote was from direct experience, seeing emptiness really isn't that hard, and you just get this nonverbal sense of "oh, this is it" when you do. What's hard is trying to convey that.
 

DogWelder

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So it's simple to see things as they really are? On the one hand that is actually true, but on the other, if it were so simple, why aren't we all doing it right now? :p

What I wrote was from direct experience, seeing emptiness really isn't that hard. What is hard is trying to convey the hows and why whys to people that might not have seen it.
That is what I mean though. It is impossible to describe experiential things in concepts, because the experience of "awareness" is the very thing prior to concepts in the first place. The thing about creating concepts is that it feeds the mind which needs to "know", which can be counterproductive to the whole endeavour. But then again, the self needs to be hijacked in order to create the motivation to begin with. So I don't know, I guess it is for some, but not for me.
 

umop_3pisdn

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That is what I mean though. It is impossible to describe experiential things in concepts, because the experience of "awareness" is the very thing prior to concepts in the first place. The thing about creating concepts is that it feeds the mind which needs to "know", which is counterproductive to the whole endeavour. But then again, the self needs to be hijacked in order to create the motivation to begin with. So I don't know, I guess it is for some, but not for me.

It's just a map. Some people started charting a path up a mountain, and they left behind some directions and landmarks that you can use in your own ascent. They're utterly useless if you're not going to climb, though. And there's always the danger of forming a mental image of something that looks entirely different when you get there. But the alternative is going it alone, and the vast majority of people can't do that, that's why the Buddha was such a big deal.
 

Fury451

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These basics are quite old, but a lot of it got hi-jacked by new agey type meditation stuff so it's been flying under the radar until more recently it seems.

I've used it for quite awhile and recommend it to others. It works, for me at least.

Glad it's getting more attention.
 

DogWelder

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It's just a map. Some people started charting a path up a mountain, and they left behind some directions and landmarks that you can use in your own ascent. They're utterly useless if you're not going to climb, though. And there's always the danger of forming a mental image of something that looks entirely different when you get there. But the alternative is going it alone, and the vast majority of people can't do that, that's why the Buddha was such a big deal.
Yes you are correct. But it is a map for one path. Don't you think with the advent of the Internet and the sharing of ideas amongst self-realized teachers that there may now be easier, more refined ways? I personally think so. Especially considering it seems some people become enlightened via drugs, direct pointing, stillness, and even spontaneously (Eckhart Tolle).

Edit: Plus, I really would have preferred not to know about A&P and the Dark Night, lol.
 

Piecake

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Scientific evidence? It's all about marketing the benefits.

So you think these academic psychologists, cognitive psychologists and neuroscientists who are publishing about the benefits of mindfulness in peer-reviewed journals are making shit up for marketing?

Everything in quotes is taken directly from the links at the end. And the information in the links are directly taken from scientific studies. I am certainly marketing mindfulness in the first post by its scientific benefits though.

FWIW, as a moderately experienced meditator, I'm pretty skeptical too. A lot of this research is extremely provisional and probably serves to get more funding and attention for continued research. I think the most important benefits of meditation are already self-evident. Meditation is a practice in self-regulation, 'taming the mind', as a process, is almost exactly synonymous with what it has to offer people. The narrative being created about it being good for everything from insomnia to mild cognitive impairment to loneliness seems like a really carefully curated image that really doesn't present the whole picture.

There has been a pretty significant amount of research on the benefits of mindfulness in improving executive function, increasing focus and awareness, and relieving anxiety and stress. I would agree that the only stuff seems very preliminary, but even if it doesnt do that other stuff, the stuff that it does do seems pretty sweet.
 

sgjackson

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My therapist taught me about mindfulness and gave me some techniques to work on applying it to my life, and honestly they were probably the thing that helped me the most during the nadir of my depression. Obviously anecdotal evidence doesn't mean a whole lot, but I'll happily throw my story in if it means I can get somebody else to try it and they have a similar experience.
 

umop_3pisdn

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Yes you are correct. But it is a map for one path. Don't you think with the advent of the Internet and the sharing of ideas amongst self-realized teachers that there may now be easier, more refined ways? I personally think so. Especially considering it seems some people become enlightened via drugs, direct pointing, stillness, and even spontaneously (Eckhart Tolle).

I don't really know what makes a path more or less refined, except I don't think it would involve taking drugs.The right path is the one you can take, that leads up the mountain. A greater variety isn't always a good thing, it probably means that people have to be a lot more critical. And then when they do choose they have to stick with it, unless they want to undo their progress in a constant search of the new and interesting.

There has been a pretty significant amount of research on the benefits of mindfulness in improving executive function, increasing focus and awareness, and relieving anxiety and stress. I would agree that the only stuff seems very preliminary, but even if it doesnt do that other stuff, the stuff that it does do seems pretty sweet.

I agree, and all of those things I'd consider 'taming the mind'.
 
Jun 4, 2014
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My therapist taught me about mindfulness and gave me some techniques to work on applying it to my life, and honestly they were probably the thing that helped me the most during the nadir of my depression. Obviously anecdotal evidence doesn't mean a whole lot, but I'll happily throw my story in if it means I can get somebody else to try it and they have a similar experience.

There's a lot of strife right now in my life, and I feel like I really need to be able to think about and approach things more clearly. Just telling myself that things are going to be fine is only just keeping me from getting worse, I feel. I'd appreciate any insight you can give.
 

Piecake

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Hmmm, from the explanations and clarifications, it sounds like Buddhism to me.


:x

Well, Mindfulness is based off of Buddhist meditations. I think the key difference is that you do not have to be a Buddhist or religious to practice mindfulness meditations. I would consider myself an agnostic and I definitely do not see any religious component to mindfulness.

I mean, all it is is focusing exercises so you can be in the moment. The important point is those exercises lead to measurable benefits that improve your life. You can certainly become a Buddhist or incorporate mindfulness meditations into your religious practices, but it is not necessary. I definitely do not plan on becoming religious because of this.
 

Sutton Dagger

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So you think these academic psychologists, cognitive psychologists and neuroscientists who are publishing about the benefits of mindfulness in peer-reviewed journals are making shit up for marketing?

Everything in quotes is taken directly from the links at the end. And the information in the links are directly taken from scientific studies. I am certainly marketing mindfulness in the first post by its scientific benefits though.



There has been a pretty significant amount of research on the benefits of mindfulness in improving executive function, increasing focus and awareness, and relieving anxiety and stress. I would agree that the only stuff seems very preliminary, but even if it doesnt do that other stuff, the stuff that it does do seems pretty sweet.


Just because it's in a peer reviewed journal does not mean it's accepted science, not all journals are created equal. I'm not claiming it's bunk, just clarifying why that person is skeptical.

I'd definitely like to see more research though, does anyone have any other reputable studies. I do think.that this area of research it ripe to be exploited by woo advocates.
 

Extollere

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I pretty much do this already, didn't know it was a thing though. Basically been trying to feel more empathetic towards others and less judgmental lately... But being mindful of oneself and one's own emotions and tendencies goes a long way towards understanding others.
 

sgjackson

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There's a lot of strife right now in my life, and I feel like I really need to be able to think about and approach things more clearly. Just telling myself that things are going to be fine is only just keeping me from getting worse, I feel. I'd appreciate any insight you can give.

I feel like I should preface this with "I'm not a doctor, this is just anecdotal stuff I noticed about myself and what worked for me when my depression was really bad."

My depression was situational, and I noticed that I had two primary drivers of bad moods.

A. Triggers - Things I exposed myself to, intentionally or not, that reminded me of what happened in a significant, mood-affecting way.
B. Thoughts - The day-to-day reminders about what happened my brain drifted toward when unoccupied because it's an asshole like that.

I never really came up with a good way to avoid being triggered outside of making an effort to avoid triggers (dreams are a motherfucker and I specifically made an effort to do something fun or interesting the day after a shitty nightmare) Mindfulness helped a ton with B - the smaller, day-to-day stuff that tended to keep me feeling meh on a good day and paralyzed in bed on a bad day. It's not about telling yourself everything is going to be fine - that's too general, I did that from the start. I had to directly acknowledge the thought as soon as it happened, mentally tell myself that it was okay to feel the way that I feel. Put acknowledging that feeling this is okay at the front of your mind, like you're specifically focusing on that idea.

It sounds weird, but it helped stem the negative feelings after unintended thinking so, so much. Figuring this out was a big turning point in my recovery - I went from "barely functional" to "eh with bad days and good days." The good days outnumbered the bad days more and more with time.
 

Piecake

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Just because it's in a peer reviewed journal does not mean it's accepted science, not all journals are created equal. I'm not claiming it's bunk, just clarifying why that person is skeptical.

I'd definitely like to see more research though, does anyone have any other reputable studies. I do think.that this area of research it ripe to be exploited by woo advocates.

When a lot of studies and articles say the same thing, then it has a pretty decent chance of being true. One field is also not saying this. Benefits are being found from psychologists, doctors, therapists, and neuroscientists. One of the posters above you linked a mindfulness study that somewhat contradicted the findings of other studies. Feel free to compare that one to all the others and determine for yourself what you find more convincing.

Also, I really doubt he was being scientifically skeptical since I doubt he even looked at the studies that the links I provided reference. He was probably skeptical because it just sounds like some hippy new-age crap that shouldn't work. That's a bias, not scientific skepticism. Of course, I could be wrong, but it is hard to not have that impression when the post just casually dismissed everything.
 
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It does sound like a very new-age, hippie practice, but as someone who has don't mindfulness before, it is actually pretty interesting. Sometimes it does put me to sleep though.
 

InsaneZero

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Hmmm, from the explanations and clarifications, it sounds like Buddhism to me.


:x

The concept behind mindfulness is very simple. It's really just being aware of what we're doing and what is going around us at the present moment.

There's a lot of things that we do that we take for granted and don't think too deeply about, like our morning commute or going the grocery store. We tend to kick in the autopilot and start thinking about other things while we go through our normal routine, since it's well, routine. However, one problem with this is that if we get too engrossed in our thoughts while doing all this we might not pick up on the fact we forgot our wallet at home while standing at the checkout line. Mindfulness is just a way to bring us back to what is actually happening right now.
 

red731

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Subscribing. Thank you.

ed: and registered and can't wait to get home.

I have an experience with meditation - ten minutes in the morning/evening some time ago for pretty long streak of months. Can't wait to dive back in.
 

BrassDragon

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For those who can't get over the topic's association with ancient tradition and religion (which does lead to some people making very silly claims and muddying the waters), research the related 'flow state' which is something serious athletes and artists should recognise.

Anecdotal but mindfulness training has proven useful in operational law-enforcement and intelligence work, for things like covert surveillance, counter-surveillance, risk assessment and point shooting.

My personal feeling is that it's not so much a super-special 'altered state' but more of a way to manage the sensory overloard and endless distractions of modern life. It's also not particularly hard, you just need to stick with simple exercises for a few weeks to notice a difference.
 

BajiBoxer

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My therapist taught me about mindfulness and gave me some techniques to work on applying it to my life, and honestly they were probably the thing that helped me the most during the nadir of my depression. Obviously anecdotal evidence doesn't mean a whole lot, but I'll happily throw my story in if it means I can get somebody else to try it and they have a similar experience.

Yeah, when I was seeing a therapist at university a few years ago she had me do a couple mindfulness meditation sessions with a guided meditation cd. It felt pretty great, though I got booted out of school right after. It didn't fix any real physical problems I had of course (which didn't get treated until after I got the boot), but it was a pretty great temporary bandaid even after only 2 short sessions.
 

Orbis Tabula

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This is pretty much why I stressed the science behind mindfulness. Without the science, I don't think it is very convincing to people who are skeptical or dismissive of 'hippy, alternative, new-age' practices that most people will associate mindfulness with (I am also one of those dismissive skeptics). The scientific evidence is what convinced me to start doing it

Yeah, that's definitely a big part of it. I'm definitely aware that I'm going to have some bias against it because it sounds "mystical" or whatever. And I do see a lot of data coming out that purports to be scientific evidence for the benefits of meditation. I'm still not totally convinced, but I'm looking for more to read.

For example, a common one I see pointed out is the thing about "meditation leads to thickening of this part of your brain and shrinking in this part" and they list all the good things the growing part does and all the bad things the shrinking part does. The conclusion is supposed to be that meditating makes the good things happen more often by growing that bit of the brain, and it makes the bad things happen less often by shrinking that bit. But I don't know enough about neuroscience to know if that's true. Like, I'm willing to believe the amygdala shrinks when you meditate, and I'm willing to believe it's associated with fight-or-flight or stress or whatever. But does shrinking that section mean anything? Does it actually make a difference with how I behave? I dunno. But I'd love to believe it, and it sounds plausible. So I'm going to keep looking into this stuff.
 

cyberheater

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Subscribed. Thanks for this thread OP.
 
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