Mindfulness, A Short Series: Introduction

Author: Bennett Nott

Beginning in the 1980’s research into the efficacy of mindfulness practices as beneficial to health and as a formal treatment practice for a variety of clinical conditions began with studies done through UMass Amherst and at the Mass General Hospital in Boston.  In the course of these studies Jon Kabat-Zinn MD was able to document several positive outcomes through teaching patients a basic concentration practice augmenting their traditional medical care.

Kabat-Zinn realized that this practice promoted a relaxation response counter to the stress response and producing several positive outcomes.  Among these were a lowering of BP and heart rate.  Also lowering of blood cortisol, adrenalin and glucose levels, all markers of stress when elevated.  He discovered the practice had beneficial effects in treating chronic pain, improving cardiac function and in treating depressive symptoms. 

These results have been replicated repeatedly over the years and with the increases in knowledge of the nervous system and in medical technology have been even more convincingly and specifically demonstrated.

Mindfulness meditation practice provides a virtually cost-free source of health and wellness benefits but the keyword is practice.  It is best undertaken with clear intention and as a daily practice.  As Kabat-Zinn notes even five minutes of practice is better than no minutes.

 Some Sources:

Books by Jon Kabat-Zinn MD: Full Catastrophe Living (1990), Wherever You Go, There You Are (1994), Mindfulness for Beginners (2006), The Mindful Way Through Depression: Freeing Yourself from Chronic Unhappiness (2007)