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Mindfulness and Health and Wellbeing (short with hats)

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Graeme Nixon

on 3 November 2015

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Transcript of Mindfulness and Health and Wellbeing (short with hats)

What is mindfulness and why now?
What are the claims?
What does the research say?
Mindfulness and Health and Wellbeing
Settling the Monkey Mind

Our attention and experience is divided

We are living in a world of thought

We rob ourselves of precious life experiences

We are shaped by habitual, reactive patterns
Not just meditation...
Yoga, Tai chi, Chi gong
Washing the dishes
Any activity we engage in
But…deliberately setting time aside to practice bringing awareness to the experience
The benefits of mindfulness practices are the following:

Relaxation and calming down.

Remedying short attention span and improving concentration.

Diminishing anxiety and low mood.

Enhancing clarity of thinking.

Combating impulsivity; recognizing that the there is a space between ourselves and our actions (many of us are trapped in reactionary patterns of behaviour)

Developing self-compassion and empathy for others

Reducing stress and enhancing well being.

Improving thinking, which is more effective and sustained.

Freedom through self-awareness
“A brief mindfulness intervention can be beneficial for individuals in the community
who may not be suffering serious symptoms of psychological distress but are aiming
to derive a greater sense of life satisfaction.”

Clinical applications: Binge eating, chronic pain, anxiety, developmental disabilities
depressive relapse

Summary of findings: Mindfulness correlates with life satisfaction using the Mindful
Attention Awareness Scale and scales on anxiety, positive and negative effects, and
life satisfaction
“In the information-rich contexts that charaterise the world of executives today, the scarce resources are not typically information but the amount of mindful attention that decision makers allocate to making the information meaningful.” (p58)
“The faculty of voluntarily bringing back a wandering attention over and over
again, is the very root of judgement, character and will. No one is compos sui
(master of himself) if he have it not. An education which should improve this faculty would be an education par excellence.” (James 1890)
The Perspective of Evolutionary Psychology:
We are an emergent species in the ‘flow of life’ so our brains, with their motives, emotions and competencies are products of evolution, designed to function in certain ways

Our lives are short (25,000-30,000 days), decay and end, and are subject to various malfunctions and diseases – in a genetic lottery. Everything changes – the nature of impermanence – the nature of tragedy

The social circumstances of our lives, over which we have no control, have major implications for the kinds of minds we have, the kind of person we become, the values we endorse, and the lives we live
Thinking skills infused
Mindmapping (Buzan)
Instrumental Enrichment (Feuerstein)
Thinking Hats and CoRT (de Bono)
Philosophy for Children (Lipman and Fisher)
If we use reason well, we live well as human beings; or, to be more precise, using reason well over the course of a full life is what happiness consists in. (Aristotle 450 BCE)
Our life is shaped by our mind; we
Become what we think.
There is no health without mental health (WHO 2010 CE)
Mental ill health accounts for almost 20% of the burden of disease in the WHO European Region and mental health problems affect one in four people at some time in life. Nine of the ten countries with the highest rates of suicide in the world are in the European Region (World Health Organisation)
What is Mindfulness?
What mindfulness is not:
emptying the mind
stopping thought
‘Mindfulness is the awareness that emerges through paying attention in a particular way. . .

- on purpose
- in the present moment
…to the unfolding of experience moment by moment’

Jon Kabat-Zinn 2003
Still thou art blest, compared wi' me!
The present only toucheth thee:
But och! I backward cast my e'e,
On prospects drear!
An' forward, tho' I canna see,
I guess an' fear!
Why Now?
Siegal, R. D. Germer, C. K. Olendzki, A. Mindfulness: What is it and where did it come from?
In Didonna, F. (2009) The Clinical Handbook of Mindfulness, New York: Springer

Consensus definitions:

“self-regulation of attention so that it is maintained on immediate experience, thereby
allowing for increased recognition of mental events in the present moment.”

“adopting a particular orientation toward one’s experience that is characterised by curiousity,
openness and acceptance.”
What are the claims?
What does the research say?
Some resources:

Postmodernism as a context in which to examine the emergence of Mindfulness?
Why now?

Multi-culturalism and rejection of traditional meta-narratives - experiences of 1960’s/70’s meditators, now bringing it to their professional lives

Mindfulness may underlie all third wave therapies (a “trans-theoretical construct”) Growing emphasis on the micro-narrative or agency of the client.

Growing recognition of benefits of meta-cognition in various contexts (particularly education)

Growing interest in ‘Buddhism’

Sociological reasons (technology, materialism and secularisation)
Buddhism as a post modern philosophy?
“I do not think religion is indispensable to the spiritual life.”
Where is the Life we have lost in living?
Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information? (T.S Eliot, The Rock)
The drive to connectivity (but with what?)
Living in the modern panopticon?
“most of our troubles are due to our passionate desire for and attachment to things that we misapprehend as enduring entities. The pursuit of the objects of our desire and attachment involves the use of aggression and competitiveness as supposedly efficacious instruments. These mental processes easily translate into actions, breeding belligerence as an obvious effect. Such processes have been going on in the human mind since time immemorial, but their execution has become more effective under modern conditions.”(Dalai Lama (1989) Ocean of Wisdom, Guidelines for Living, New York: Emery Printing)
Mindfulness and Health and Well-being?
4 areas of impact, all linked to increased activity and thickening of brain areas:

1. Sustained attention and better attentional control
2. Enhanced awareness
3. Emotional regulation, greater control over the limbic cortex, gives us more executive control.
4. Expanded sense of identity and greater sense of our connections to others

Neuroscience provides objective evidence that supports first person accounts.
The MISP curriculum:
1. Introduction
2. Puppy training - attentional training
3. Turning toward calm
4. Recognising worry
5. Being here now
6. Movement
7. Stepping back
8. Befriend the difficult
Pulling it all together -writing a letter to themselves
Full transcript