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Combining Meditation And Mindfulness To Fight Mental Health Issues

January 16, 2015

There is a new word being thrown about on health and lifestyle sites as though it is something that we are all familiar with in our daily lives – mindfulness. This is term that many people think they may understand but the principles go much further than a simple heightened awareness. Mindfulness is about taking the time to understand our environment and feelings and connect with them on a more objective, non-judgemental level. When mindfulness is paired up with the added qualities of meditation the potential on mental health and stress relief increases. This guide will look at this fantastic combination and its impact on psychological health – both in terms of the effects and treatment options.

Combining the qualities of meditation and mindfulness

It is no surprise that meditation and mindfulness are so popular in modern culture when you consider the many different benefits that these practices are said to offer for mental health. Marrying the ideas of mindfulness – a more contemporary idea – with the ancient art of meditation is a winning formula when it come to mental health because the concepts of mindfulness – clearing you inner eye and gaining a different, objective perspective on your self and world around you – works in harmony with the breathing exercises and need to achieve focus of meditation. By embracing both all these elements into a daily routine, such as a few moments of mindfulness meditation in the morning to relax and focus, you increase the chance of aiding anxiety, improving your resilience, reducing emotional reactivity and decreasing stress.

The effect of meditation and mindfulness on stress

The link between mindfulness and stress is one of the biggest draws to this alternative therapy and this connection is made even more interesting by the fact it is backed by scientific studies rather than theory. Many may expect some sort of placebo effect between meditation and stress relief, a sense that simply assume it works and any results that are experienced are purely coincidental, but a report in a recent publication of the Health Psychology Journal states that it actually decreases levels of a vital stress hormone called cortisol. Fifty seven people at a specialised retreat were taught simple breathing exercises, observational skills and how to enhance positive mental states and their cortisol levels were measured prior to the three-month test and then afterwards. The test showed a correlation between the techniques, improved mindfulness and lower levels of the stress hormone. The fact that they neglected to use any form of control group could affect the validity of the results but it is just part of the ongoing research and the growing links between mindfulness, meditation and stress. As the image of the method grows, more studies will be undertaken to give better accreditation to the advantages.

How can this research help people?

The potential implications of using meditation and mindfulness on psychological health and treatment programs are intriguing and a number of different institutions have already begun programs to help individuals and groups fight stress, anxiety and depression. One story that has caught the eye of the media is the surprisingly controversial attempt by an Ohio school to introduce the teachings of mindfulness and meditation into the classroom to aid adolescent depression and improve student concentration. Other areas being explored are the use of these techniques as stress relief tools for troops suffering from PTSD and classes in prison to decrease , meanwhile the link between mindfulness yoga and pre-natal depression is one that deserves closer attention.

Summary: using meditation and mindfulness for mental health

Once you start looking at the real benefits of these meditation and mindfulness principles on mental health and psychiatric issues and undertake reliable, scientific research into the actual effect, you can start to see the potential of combining these principles into an efficient program. Some people may be wary of bringing Eastern-inspired methods into programs for mental health or unconvinced that such measures can have these desired, physiological effects; however, the evidence for mindfulness, meditation and improved mental health is growing and should be encouraged in a wide range of applications. This could mean an increase in school programs or education about mindfulness to at risk people in stressful job but the point is that appreciating the principles of mindfulness and its links to meditation can have highly beneficial implications for anybody.

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