Using Mindfulness to Treat Depression and Anxiety

Tools to Recognize and Talk Back to Negative Thoughts

I’ve seen wonderful results for my clients who embrace mindfulness and cognitive behavioral therapy (MCBT). As psychologist and science journalist Daniel Goleman says, “If MCBT were a drug, some pharmaceutical company would be making billions of dollars.”

Goleman does a masterful job explaining the science behind MCBT in this post’s featured video. In short, it works by

  1. taking the power away from depressing thoughts
  2. shifting our focus to evidence of positive things in our lives
  3. lowering anxiety

Put another way, mindfulness draws attention to our thoughts and feelings. Cognitive therapy helps us to work through them.

Watch what Dr. Goleman has to say about areas of the brain that are affected by MCBT and the results of major studies on its effectiveness:

 

Mindfully yours,

 

Dr. Pamm

Mindfullness Workshop for Teachers

More Effective Teacher-Student Connections in the Classroom

Mindfullness practice can help teachers to engage more effectively with students.

Mindfullness practice can help teachers to engage more effectively with students.

 

“On Monday, WMS Faculty and Staff members attended a Mindfulness workshop led by Dr. Pamela Cappetta. Dr. Pamm is a Licensed Professional Counselor and Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist. She is also a mindfulness practitioner and teacher. In the workshop, tools were given to help teachers and staff practice daily applications of mindfulness in living and teaching. Attendees were also taught how to recognize unproductive patterns, both within themselves and in students and learned how to respond more effectively. All of our faculty and staff members are excited to share and engage their students in the practice of mindfulness.”

– Khalilah Davis, Williamsburg Montessori School

Invite Dr. Pamm to Your Event

Dr. Pamm is a popular speaker and teacher of Mindfulness Practice. Contact her to learn how she can enrich your next event.

 

Compassion meditation training promotes resilience

Good news for caregivers

The Center for Healthy Minds reports that “Research from the University of Wisconsin–Madison suggests that as little as two weeks of compassion meditation training – intentionally cultivating positive wishes to understand and relieve the suffering of others – may reduce the distress a person feels when witnessing another’s suffering. It may also improve their ability and likelihood to respond with compassion.” This means that doctors, law enforcement officers, and first responders who experience high levels of distress or empathic burnout may find relief and resilience through compassion meditation.

What is compassion meditation?

I encourage you to read about the methodology for this controlled study for yourself, but here is a summary of what the two groups were asked to do:

  • The compassion meditation group was asked to visualize people when they were suffering and practice noticing their own personal reactions in a calm and nonjudgmental way. Focusing on a loved one, on themselves, on a stranger, and on someone with whom they had conflict, they also practiced caring for and wishing to help the other person.
  • The control group was asked to do  reappraisal training (re-interpreting personally stressful events to decrease negative emotions).

In other words, the group that did compassion meditation for 2 weeks exercised their “compassion muscle” by gradually increasing the “weight” of the relationship with each person considered, whereas the control group sought only to lessen the effect of personal memories.

Compassion meditation results

The researchers reported that “the people who had practiced compassion meditation and tended to look more directly at suffering in the negative images relative to the neutral photos also showed less activity in the amygdala, insula, and orbitofrontal cortex – areas of the brain that are usually more active when experiencing emotional distress and might lead to a withdrawal response and averted gaze. This finding was not present in the reappraisal group, and the results suggest compassion could be a mechanism through which people may become calmer in the face of suffering.”

That’s very good news indeed, for both helpers and sufferers. It appears that compassion meditation gives more resilience to the person helping the sufferer and the sufferer receives more compassionate care.

As I continue practicing and teaching mindfulness practice, I am inspired by each new benefit that unfolds for me, my patients, and our communities.

Mindfully yours,

 

Dr. Pamm

 

What If Schools Taught Kindness?

Students who show kindness for others are calmer themselves

As a mindfulness practitioner and teacher, I’m very excited to be leading an in-service day for local teachers this month.  We want to develop a kindness curriculum for their students. An article in Mindful summarizes the benefits of mindfulness and kindness – or “kindfulness” as the phrase seems to be taking hold.

Laura Pinger and Lisa Flook took “a 12-week curriculum to six schools in the Midwest. Twice a week for 20 minutes, pre-kindergarten kids were introduced to stories and practices for paying attention, regulating their emotions, and cultivating kindness.”  Their initial findings suggest that this program can improve kids’ grades, cognitive abilities, and relationship skills.

Why teach kindness to kids?

  • school is stressful
  • kindness build connections among students, teachers, and parents
  • it can transform the school environment without formal policy changes or administrative involvement

I encourage you to read the details for yourself, but here’s a quick summary of the concepts taught:

  • Attention. Students learn that what they focus on is a choice.
  • Breath and Body. Students learn to use their breath to cultivate some peace and quiet.
  • Caring. Think about how others are feeling and cultivate kindness.
  • Depending on other people. Students learn to see themselves as helpers and begin to develop gratitude for the kindness of others.
  • Emotions. What do emotions feel like and look like?
  • Forgiveness. Young kids can be particularly hard on themselves—and others—and we teach them that everyone makes mistakes.
  • Gratitude. Role playing to recognize the kind acts that other people do for them teaches thankfulness.

Results show promise

This was a small study with promising results. Teachers’ ratings showed that

  • Students who went through the curriculum showed more empathy and kindness and a greater ability to calm themselves down when they felt upset
  • Students who experienced the curriculum shared more often than those who did not
  • They also earned higher grades at the end of the year in certain areas (notably for social and emotional development)
  • They showed improvement in the ability to think flexibly and delay gratification, skills that have been linked to health and success later in life

I’ll be watching the follow-up studies closely as I work with our local schools to see how we can bring the gifts of mindfulness and kindness to students and their families.

Mindfully yours,

 

Dr. Pamm

New Mindfulness Group Begins January 15, 2019

Mindfulness Training

Eight one and a half-hour group sessions

 Mindfulness practice is a wonderful opportunity to “wake up” to your life and to encounter emotions, thoughts in the mind and sensations in the body with curiosity and non-judgment.

Dr. Pamela Cappetta, LPC, LMFT, will be offering an eight-week group experience to explore your struggles, joys, confusion, depression and anxiety through the lens of mindfulness. She will teach you a variety of mindfulness practices for inclusion in your daily life.

Mindfulness—waking up to what is—is a non-judging awareness in the present moment.  Mindfulness arises when you pay attention on purpose in a way that is friendly and non-interfering.  It is possible to develop and to bring mindfulness into all activities of daily life, both internal and external.

Paying attention on purpose, carefully and with sensitivity, can be done as a formal meditation, or informally, as a way of noticing the flow of your daily life.  The benefits of mindfulness include lowering stress and increasing calmness in the mind and the body.  Developing insight and wisdom into the habits of judging, thinking and reacting that are at the core of stress reactions will be addressed.  Ultimately, by becoming more mindful, you will learn to make stronger and deeper contact with the moments of your life.  The growing medical research suggests that mindfulness developed as a meditation skill and practiced daily offers benefits that impact both psychological and physical conditions.

Each group will be limited to 8-10 people and each person is requested to commit to attending each session. High levels of confidentiality will be expected and a commitment to daily practice outside the group will be a piece of the commitment to the mindfulness training.

Please arrive early to find your seat and settle in.  You may bring beverages into the group room.  Please do not wear any perfumes or fragrances (lotions, hair products, etc.) due to the sensitivity of some of the group members.

Please Note:  If you are new to Dr. Cappetta’s practice, you would need to schedule an individual appointment with her before the start of the Mindfulness Training group.  This way she can get to know you and we can determine if your health insurance would cover the cost of the group.  Also, all people registering for the Mindfulness Training group are required to pay a $100.00 deposit (with check, cash or via PayPal) to hold their place in the group.  This deposit becomes non-refundable seven days prior to the first group session.  

When:  Tuesdays, 5:45 PM-7:15 PM

Dates: January 15-March 12, 2019 (we will not meet on February 12)

Cost: $400.00 (check or cash, or under special circumstances we can bill your insurance company)

For more information or to register, please call

757-253-5708

Ways to Forgive Ourselves and Others

Forgiveness is an inside job

Have you heard the saying “forgiveness is an inside job”? It’s true, but how do we get free from old resentments and anger that block our release into forgiveness and peace?

 

As Carley Hauck explains in her recent article in Mindful magazine, we may be holding on to past hurts because “our inner narratives or personal stories can easily lead us down a path of reactivity.  We start blaming and shaming, and as a result, we are not able to move forward into compassion, understanding, and forgiveness of ourselves or others. Simply put: when we get stuck in our heads, weaving narratives, even after a simple squabble at home or work, it becomes more difficult to recover.”

 

I encourage you to read her full article, but if you’ve been reading my blog, you probably suspect the solution I  recommend: mindfulness practice. That’s right, being in the present moment and recognizing the feelings in a non-judging way is the first step to forgiveness.  Here’s what’s worked for me and countless other mindfulness practitioners:

 

How to Forgive Yourself

  1. Name and acknowledge your feelings of anger and resentment.
  2. In this new space you create between your emotions and your reactions, you have the freedom to choose how to respond with compassion.
  3. Write a forgiveness letter to yourself. Forgive yourself for the times you didn’t speak up or take good care of yourself or claim what you wanted. Forgive the times you didn’t say “no” when you wanted to or when you didn’t set healthy boundaries. Your mindful attention will reveal what you need to forgive.
  4. Create a loving phrase that will help you whenever you struggle to forgive, such as “I am a loving person and I deeply want the best for others. I forgive myself.”
  5. Feel gratitude for the lessons you learned along the way.
  6. Begin to cultivate compassion toward yourself and others you’ve had difficult relationships with.

 

As Hauck wisely observes, forgiveness has layers that we uncover through mindful attention. It’s also a choice – one that can feel counterintuitive when we’ve been relying on anger for strength. But our true strength and resilience come from letting go and moving on in peace and with compassion for ourselves and others.

 

Mindfully yours,

 

Dr. Pamm

How Mindfulness May Change the Brain in Depressed Patients

I’ve seen the benefits of Mindfulness practice in my own life and in the lives of my clients for many years. Scientific studies continue to affirm the benefits with an increasing frequency of studies and an expanding set of tools.

As Alvin Powell describes in his recent article in Mindful magazine,

The number of randomized controlled trials — the gold standard for clinical study — involving mindfulness has jumped from one in the period from 19951997 to 11 from 20042006, to a whopping 216 from 20132015.
randomized controlled trials

Rising scientific interest in the benefits of mindfulness practice

The tools used to study the effects of mindfulness also continue to increase. For example,  Harvard researchers are using brain scans to explore how 8-weeks of training in present-moment awareness might break the cycle of self-rumination. Findings from this research may add to growing evidence that mindfulness can help sufferers of depression, chronic pain, and anxiety.

Researchers are quick to note that well-designed, well-run studies confirm mindfulness effects similar to other existing treatments, but not necessarily better results than existing treatments. Why, then, is there so much interest in mindfulness? As  Benjamin Shapero, an instructor in psychiatry at Harvard Medical School (HMS) and a psychologist at Massachusetts General Hospital’s (MGH) Depression Clinical and Research Program explains, “Many people don’t respond to the frontline interventions.  Individual cognitive behavioral therapy is helpful for many people; antidepressant medications help many people. But it’s also the case that many people don’t benefit from them as well. There’s a great need for alternative approaches.”

To better understand how mindfulness works in the brain, Shapero and his colleague Gaëlle Desbordes, are using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), which not only takes pictures of the brain, as a regular MRI does, but also records brain activity occurring during the scan. They are studying clinically depressed patients, performing functional magnetic resonance imaging scans before and after an eight-week course in mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, or MBCT.

During the scans, participants complete two tests, one that encourages them to become more aware of their bodies by focusing on their heartbeats (an exercise related to mindfulness meditation), and the other asking them to reflect on phrases common in the self-chatter of depressed patients, such as “I am such a loser,” or “I can’t go on.” After a series of such comments, the participants are asked to stop ruminating on the phrases and the thoughts they trigger. Researchers will measure how quickly subjects can disengage from negative thoughts, typically a difficult task for the depressed.

I encourage you to read Powell’s complete article and to check back for the results of these ongoing studies.

With so much public interest in Mindfulness and increased activity in the scientific community, I predict that we will soon have a much greater understanding not only of how Mindfulness benefits us, but also how it works, and for which problems it is most effective.

Mindfully yours,

Dr. Pamm

When Work Stress Keeps You Awake, Try Mindfulness

Even short meditation training brings relief from stress

We now have years of research showing the negative effects of stress on our wellbeing. Happily, we also have years of research on mindfulness practice and its proven ability to bring calmness to our mind and body.

Not surprisingly, workplace stress is a common cause of sleeplessness. As Adam Hoffman’s excellent article in Mindful magazine notes, about 85% of American workers report losing sleep due to job stress. Lack of sleep decreases our coping abilities, so it’s easy to get overwhelmed by stress.  

When we’re stressed, the smallest task may seem huge, but de-stressing can be very simple. Studies show that even a small amount of mindfulness meditation will help calm our hyperactive minds and grant us restorative sleep.

For example, Hoffman describes a study done in the Netherlands in which people  with no formal meditation training read some basic tenets of mindfulness and listened to a few recorded guided meditations over the course of two workweeks. Using these tools for only 10 minutes before and after work each day, these participants experienced steady improvements in sleep quality, sleep duration, and mindfulness.

The researchers did not see improved ability for the participants to detach psychologically from work, but it’s likely they would see improvement with more intense mindfulness practice or if they practiced for longer periods of time.

Making mindfulness practice part if your life on a regular and ongoing basis has real benefits. As these studies show, you may notice the first improvement in your sleep, because sleep quality seems to be highly sensitive to the practice. As you continue mindfulness practice, you’re likely to see its positive effects in many aspects of your mental, emotional,  and physical health.

Mindfully yours,

 

Dr. Pamm

Can Mindfulness Help You to Stop Drinking?

Regain Freedom with Mindfulness Practice 

Whether you’ve been struggling with addiction or are just wondering if you have a drinking problem, consider mindfulness practice as a way to free yourself from dependence on alcohol.

I’ve long believed and taught my clients that it’s possible to develop and bring mindfulness into all activities of daily life, both internal and external. Keri Wiginton’s recent article in The Washington Post reveals how she learned to focus more on the present moment and was able to break her unwanted drinking habit.

Keri credits mindfulness techniques with identifying what triggered her cravings. By observing those behaviors in a non-judging way and being in the moment with those cravings, she was able to stop “pairing stress-relief with Shiraz” and felt fewer urges to use alcohol.

Benefits she experienced from mindfulness practice include

  • fewer urges to use alcohol
  • feeling more present in the evenings
  • uninterrupted sleep
  • no morning mood swings

Her results are not unique, but have been duplicated in controlled studies. As she notes,

Practicing just 11 minutes of mindfulness — like paying attention to your breath — helped heavy drinkers cut back, according to a study out of University College London. Brewer showed that using awareness techniques were more effective than the gold-standard behavioral treatment at getting people to quit smoking.

Drinking too much isn’t the only habit that can be relieved with these techniques. Any behavior that gets in the way of your happiest life could benefit from mindfulness practice.

Mindfully yours,

Dr. Pamm

Practicing “Stealth Mindfulness” All Day Long

Our culture today seems to almost deify disconnection. Young schoolchildren have the latest iGadgets, 2-year-olds are adept at smartphones, and it’s not unusual to see everyone at family gatherings ignoring each other while tapping on their devices.

Connecting with others, however, is an opportunity to practice mindfulness—speaking, listening and interacting—and we can do it all day long. Faculty and staff at the UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center even have a term for that kind of practice: It’s called taking mindfulness “off the cushion” and into the world of “relational mindfulness.” In my training, “off the cushion” is called the “informal mindfulness practice” with everyday interactions.

Why is it important to get metaphorically get off the cushion or practice informal mindfulness? Because, say Center researchers, busy people today feel as if they don’t have time to stop and practice mindfulness. How, then, can mindfulness be incorporated into our everyday lives? Try some of these ideas:

  • Stay deeply present. When feeling spaced out, gently bring yourself into the present moment. And when interacting with others, display authenticity and love.
  • Be a mindful listener. Often, we cut people off, jump in and try to “fix” people, or turn the conversation toward us. If you listen attentively, people feel seen and understood.
  • Notice your body. It might be your feet touching the ground, hands on your lap, or back against a chair. For most people, noticing a physical sensation serves as a reminder to come back to the present.
  • Speak skillfully. Use words with care and intentionality. Talk authentically from the heart.
  • Keep internal awareness alive. Cultivate an inner awareness when you’re speaking, noticing, for example, when your cheeks feel flushed or how tired you are. This allows you to learn more about yourself and what’s happening in the present moment, says Diana Winston, director of mindfulness education at the Mindful Awareness Research Center. “It keeps an internal awareness alive.”
  • Practice when it feels right to you. Just be aware that you have opportunities 24/7.
  • Choose what you want to practice. It might be: listening, speaking authentically, or just putting away your phone to fully engage with the check-out person at the grocery store.

Finally, remember that no one needs to know what you are doing when you are practicing informal mindfulness because it’s a form of “stealth” mindfulness—mindfulness you can quietly practice all day long.

More information: https://www.mindful.org/mindfulness-247/

Mindfulness Techniques Lessen Feelings of Anxiety, Isolation

Get “interconnected” with yourself, others, and the world.

Ever feel as if you’re living in a bubble, separate from everyone else? All of us have moments when we feel somewhat isolated from life. For some, however, this sense of isolation exacerbates anxiousness, creating feelings of despair, painful separation, and a longing to feel integrated with life.

Studies now indicate that two Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction practices can alleviate anxiety by helping sufferers get back in touch with themselves and the world around them.

 

Informal Reconnect Practice

This practice, which uses the power of interconnectedness, is designed to help you get a sense of being unified with your surroundings. “When you deeply reflect on the ripples of interconnection that pulse through your life, you can directly experience how you are never isolated,” says author and teacher Bob Stahl, Ph.D. “Recalling this unity can break through feelings of disconnectedness or isolation, bringing a sense of interconnection that can suffuse you, like the sun emerging from a cover of clouds.”

Do this simple practice as soon as you realize you’re feeling separate. It can be done in any position, but keep your eyes open and stay engaged.

Deepen awareness of your body. Become aware of the points of contact with the surface beneath you, a sense of weight as you rest in gravity, or a feeling of how you fully inhabit three dimensions. Relax any tension. Allow your vision to expand, and soften your gaze. Connect with your breath and your heart, be present, and actively bring kindness to yourself.

Engage your visual field and body awareness together. Open your peripheral vision so you’re aware of your hands on your lap, or more fully sense your entire body. Hear the sounds around you, feel sensations, and gently acknowledge any thoughts or feelings.

 

 

Formal Interconnection Practice

Set aside 20 minutes for this meditation practice. Do it seated, standing, or even lying down—just be comfortable and alert.

Pause to check in. Check in with yourself and acknowledge how you’re feeling physically, mentally, and emotionally. (Remember that mindfulness is a non-judging awareness in the present moment.)

Gently shift awareness to breathing. Be aware of naturally breathing in and out, tuning in to one inhalation and one exhalation at a time. Focus on your breath wherever you feel it most distinctly, like your chest, belly or nostrils. Let your awareness rest there… being mindful of breathing in and out. 

Feel your body’s connection. Feel the surface supporting you. Then notice how that surface is connected to the floor, which is connected to the building you’re in, which is connected to the Earth. Reflect on being in a safe place with nothing you need to do, nowhere you must go, and no one you have to be. “Just allow yourself to be held in the heart of the earth with kindness and ease,” says Stahl. 

Expand your awareness. Sense the connection of the Earth to the solar system, and then the vast universe. In this way, we’re all interconnected.

Feel the grace of this universe. Appreciate that you are an intrinsic part of this universe and can never be separated from it. Feel a sense of connection and interconnection; you are at home within your being.

Gradually return awareness to your breath. Feel how your entire body breathes in and out, from head to toe, to fingertips—unified, connected, and whole.  

View the article:

Feeling Separate When You’re Anxious: Two Mindfulness Practices to Reconnect

 

Mindfully yours,

Dr. Pamm

A 10 Minute Guided Meditation to Foster Forgiveness

Forgiveness Helps Us Let Go of Whatever Holds Us Back

I often work with clients who are weighed down by feelings of anger and resentment over old hurts. Sometimes they’re burdened by guilt caused by their own actions. Either way, peace comes through forgiving others and ourselves.

If there’s someone you’d like to forgive, but don’t know how to do it, I encourage you to listen Dr. Mark Bertin’s guided meditation below. Through the simple story of two monks who encounter a rude woman, he gently illustrates the way that we add to our negative experiences by fostering anger and resentment. Then, he leads us through a mindful release into a state of forgiveness. A transcript of the meditation is available on Mindful.org as well.

Peace,

 

Dr. Pamm

America Has Problems Dealing with Chronic Pain

Robert Bonakdar, MD, is Director of Pain Management at the Scripps Center for Integrative Medicine. In a recent editorial published in USA Today, he courageously disagrees with the United States Surgeon General’s campaign to reduce opioid drug dependencies through education and addiction awareness. The real problem, Dr. Bonkadar argues, is that there are other ways to manage chronic pain, but insurance companies won’t pay for them.

Chronic pain is a complex scenario that not only affects the back or shoulder, but one that over time can shrink the brain while creating or worsening fatigue, insomnia, depression, anxietyobesity and risk of suicide. The pain transformation called for by the IOM and most recently the National Pain Strategy requires not just a campaign, but an integrative, patient-centered approach to support someone whose entire existence is affected. – Dr. Robert Bonkadar[1]

The doctor does see signs of hope, however, that decision makers are beginning to understand the human benefits and corporate cost savings of pain management methods such as exercise and diet, biofeedback and nutrition, Tai Chi, yoga, acupuncture, CBT and mindfulness.

After focus groups with chronic pain patients found that ‘fix-it’ strategies were failing while also bankrupting the state, Rhode Island created the Ease the Pain Program, which uses case management and treatments like acupuncture, massage and manipulation. Similarly, starting this year, the Oregon state insurance program will cover acupuncture, CBT and more, based on findings that ‘lack of support for and knowledge of biopsychosocial pain self-management treatments are serious public health problems.’ [2]

If you are one of the 100 million Americans who suffer with chronic pain, I urge you to consider mindfulness meditation and other non-drug treatments as part of your pain management program.

 

Peace,

 

Dr. Pamm

[1] Robert Bonkadar, M.D., “Docs Need Help to Ease Opioid Epidemic,” USA Today, September 28, 2016.

[2] Ibid.

Deep Relaxation Changes Our Bodies on a Genetic Level

For many years now, scientific studies have shown that mindfulness meditation has a profound effect on our health and wellbeing. Still, new clients routinely express skepticism about meditation—they assume it’s just a timeout from the stress of everyday living with no long-term health benefits.

An article I keep handy to encourage these doubters appeared in the January 2012 SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, titled “7 Health Benefits of Meditation.” It’s worth reading the full article, but here’s my synopsis in case you’d rather spend your time meditating than reading.

7 Health Benefits of Deep Relaxation 

  1. Increased Immunity
  2. Emotional Balance
  3. Increased Fertility
  4. Relieves Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  5. Lowers Blood Pressure
  6. Anti-Inflammatory
  7. Calmness

Somehow we all know that relaxation is good for us, right? When we pause, take a deep breath, and let it out, it helps us to relax our bodies and clear our minds so that we can refocus with more clarity and energy. But is that all? What does science say about why intentional meditation for 10-15 minutes a day is so beneficial?

Meditation Changes Our Bodies on a Genetic Level

Researchers at Harvard Medical School did a comprehensive scientific study showing that deep relaxation changes our bodies on a genetic level and in long-term practitioners of relaxation methods such as yoga and meditation, far more ”disease-fighting genes” were active, compared to those who practiced no form of relaxation.

The study showed that regular meditation practice turned on genes that protect from disorders such as

  • Pain
  • Infertility
  • High blood pressure
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Inflammation
  • Hormonal imbalance
  • Cancer
  • Immune system deficiencies

How can relaxation have such wide-ranging and powerful effects?

On a biological level, stress is linked to fight-flight and danger. In survival mode, heart rate rises and blood pressure shoots up. Meanwhile muscles, preparing for danger, contract and tighten. And non-essential functions such as immunity and digestion go by the wayside.” Relaxation, on the other hand, is a state of rest, enjoyment and physical renewal. Free of danger, muscles can relax and food can be digested. The heart can slow and blood circulation flows freely to the body’s tissues, feeding it with nutrients and oxygen. This restful state is good for fertility, as the body is able to conserve the resources it needs to generate new life. – Dr. Jane Flemming [1]

How to switch off stress 

The researchers found that yoga, meditation and even repetitive prayer and mantras all induced the relaxation effect. Try one or more of these techniques for 15 minutes once or twice a day:

  • Mental Body Scan
  • Breath Focus
  • Mantra Repetition
  • Guided Imagery

I hope you’ll learn more about those methods by reading the full article, or explore the Mindfulness section of this website.

Peace,

Dr. Pamm

[1]7 Health Benefits of Meditation,” SYDNEY MORNING HERALD,
republished on Food Matters, Jan. 26, 2012.

18 Science-Based Reasons to Try Loving-Kindness Meditation

Emerging Science Examines Benefits of Mindfulness Practice

This month’s issue of Mindful magazine has an excellent article by Emma Seppälä, who looks at the emerging science around the benefits of loving-kindness meditation.

Start with Kindness

First, the author notes the confusion and possible misconceptions—or even biases—that some people have about meditation. As she notes, there are many forms of meditation practice that we may have tried once or twice, before concluding they weren’t helpful for us.

I agree with Dr. Seppälä that a great place to start or renew a meditation practice is with Loving Kindness Meditation—or Mindfulness Practice, as I refer to it. It’s an easy one to begin with, because it evokes a very natural state in us: kindness.[1] As the author explains,

Loving-kindness meditation focuses on developing feelings of goodwill, kindness and warmth towards others … compassion, kindness and empathy are very basic emotions to us. Research shows that loving-kindness meditation has a tremendous amount of benefits [including] relief from illness and improving emotional intelligence.[2]

For the scientific evidence that supports the author’s 18 Reasons below, I urge you to read Dr. Seppälä’s full article. If these reasons intrigue you, then you may also enjoy the author’s TEDx talk—a recording of the loving-kindness meditation she uses.

Scientific Studies Reveal Benefits of Mindfulness Practice

  1. Increases Positive Emotions & Decreases Negative Emotions
  2. Increases vagal tone, which increases positive emotions & feelings of social connection
  3. Decreases migraines
  4. Decreases chronic pain
  5. Decreases PTSD
  6. Decreases schizophrenia-spectrum disorders
  7. Activates empathy & emotional processing in the brain
  8. Increases gray matter volume
  9. Increases respiratory Sinus Arrythmia (RSA)
  10. Increases telomere length—a biological marker of aging
  11. Makes you a more helpful person
  12. Increases compassion
  13. Increases empathy
  14. Decreases your bias towards others
  15. Increases social connection
  16. Curbs self-criticism
  17. Is effective even in small doses
  18. Has long-term impact[3]

The science is increasingly clear on the benefits of mindfulness meditation. Countless patients of mine—and I suspect some of your friends and acquaintances—will also attest to its helpfulness. May your own practice bring you peace, healing, and joy.

 

With gratitude,

 

Dr. Pamm


[1] Emma Seppälä, “18 Science-Based Reasons to Try Loving-Kindness Meditation,” Mindful, Oct. 2016.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.