Mindfulness is all the rage these days. It is easy to see why. There has been a lot of research to determine what, if any, the benefits of regular mindfulness practice are. In fact, the National Institute of Health’s National Library of Medicine lists over twenty thousand mindfulness studies. Some of the benefits listed in “5-Minute Health Fixes,” by the doctors from The Doctors TV show, include:
- Reduced chronic stress
- Pain management
- Reduced blood levels of cortisol, a stress hormone linked to early cognitive decline and other chronic health issues.
- Improved functioning of the adrenal glands
- Reduced heart and respiration rate
- Lower blood pressure
- Reduced insomnia
- Improved immune system functioning
- Improved antibody response to the flu vaccine
- Increased energy
- Reduced gastrointestinal upset
- Improved anger management and reduction in depression and anxiety
- Reduction of repetitive, ruminating thoughts
- Increased empathy
- Improved attention and ability to stay on task
- Reduced judgmental thinking
- Enhanced ability to quickly refocus after being distracted
- Thickened cerebral cortex, the brain region linked to planning and regulating emotions
- Reduced automatic emotional reactivity, such as angry outbursts or anxiety attacks
- Increased grey matter and growth in the size of the brain
Is mindfulness a fad that will pass in time, or is it a tool that will be integrated into our society for the betterment of all? I certainly hope it is the latter.
My experience in using mindfulness techniques to recover from depression and alcoholism tells me that mindfulness practice can trigger many positive changes in a person’s life. In addition to the techniques themselves, there are some concepts associated with mindfulness that have helped me to make positive changes to my life. These positive changes continue even today, though I have been sober for over twenty years and my depression is a thing of the past. This tells me that a person doesn’t have to be sick to benefit from mindfulness.
My experience in teaching mindfulness techniques and concepts to mentally ill and chemically dependent adults tells me, through the changes I have seen in others, that mindfulness has broad application for many people. It also tells me that teaching these principles requires a simple, no-nonsense approach.
That is what you will find here. In writing this book, I hope that some of the people who read it will use these principles to improve the quality of their lives and relationships.
I will draw on a wide range of sources to give the reader a solid understanding of mindfulness. I am aware that I will be saying some things here that some “experts” will disagree with, such as my inclusion of certain practices under the umbrella of mindfulness. I believe that including what I have will make things easier to understand.
There is one more thing I will mention. Throughout this book I use the word recovery a lot. This is because of my experience with recovery and my work helping others with their recovery. I believe that what we generally refer to as “recovery” is a structured, accelerated growth and development that mirrors the growth and development that everyone experiences throughout their lifespan. Your life may be humming along just the way you want. Good for you. You will still benefit from living the mindful lifestyle.