Mindfulness, Meditation & Mental Health

Practicing mindfulness—being present in the moment, and observing oneself and one's surroundings in a nonjudgmental way—is an ancient form of meditation with roots in Buddhism. But researchers are delving into the idea that secular mindfulness practice has great benefits for our mental and physical health, including helping manage mental illness and chronic pain.

Mindfulness and meditation

An article in the L.A. Times today noted a study that found mindfulness-based cognitive therapy works just as well as ongoing antidepressant use in warding off repeat bouts of depression. And a recent story on CNN.com reported that mindfulness is gaining momentum on a national scale:

Mindfulness is becoming more integrated into psychological therapy in the United States. Therapists have found uses for it for everything from post-traumatic stress disorder to eating disorders to anxiety. And its effectiveness for stress reduction and other benefits have been supported in scientific studies.

With increasing attention from the science world as to the benefits of meditation and mindfulness, it’s becoming apparent that developing a regular practice may be just as beneficial to our overall health as adopting an exercise routine. If we make time for spinning class, or pilates, or the gym, perhaps we should consider making time for meditation as well?

For more on mindfulness, check out Mindful.org, a new website devoted to “living with awareness & compassion” through multimedia stories, instructions, and commentary about mindfulness, awareness, kindness, and compassion.

PS: If you’re interested in meditation and would like to try it out, Yen Yoga & Fitness offers a free group meditation class based on Vipassana and Zen meditation every Sunday from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Come join us! No experience required; just wear something comfy and please arrive five minutes before starting time.