Mindfulness is a hot topic in the 21st century, originating from thousands of years practice now a scientifically proven method for relieving anxiety, depression and suffering. Research review from the JAMA International Medicine has shown that mindfulness practice is as effective as an antidepressant for depression. It makes sense that mindfulness works for treating anxiety and depression given it helps to free our mind from powerful thoughts and emotions that otherwise keep people stuck on dwelling on the past or worrying about the future. Imagine a life being liberated from your own mind, free from self-criticisms like “I am never good enough”, “I am a failure”, wouldn’t that be amazing?
Mindfulness is the ability to turn your mind to the present moment, moment by moment, without judgement. Research has shown tremendous evidence on the benefits of mindfulness on health and wellbeing. The most resonance of our dissonant cord of our modern society is hyperactivity, life goes by unnoticed while we are constantly battling with competing demands, ruminating over past events or worrying about the future. The sticky thoughts and emotions constantly grip hold of our attention and keeping us away from things that are truly important to us.
Mindfulness gives us the ability to slow things down, take notice and appreciate the simple things in life and reduce fruitless time on worries, rumination that maintains the status quo. When each moment shows up in life, whether it is playing with the kids, talking to your spouse or taking a gentle stroll on the beach, mindfulness empowers us with the choice to say yes as the next moment of life shows up. We can’t predict the future by focusing on the rear-view mirror. The good news is that, just as changes in how we pay attention in life through mindfulness practices could overtime change our thoughts, feelings, physical sensations, behaviours and environment, and as whole, our life experiences.
Mindfulness practice is thought to work via its effect on the sympathetic nervous system which gets activated during times of stress. The practice calms the activation of sympathetic nervous system which reduces stress responses such as increased heart rate, breathing and blood pressure. Mindfulness practice is also thought to work through changes in brain circuits and reduces the Default Mode Network (DMN) activity which is associated with mind wandering. You may have heard of the study conducted by Harvard University called “a wandering mind is an unhappy mind” It found that we on average spend 47% of our waking hours thinking about what isn’t going on. It is not surprising when our lives are pervaded by things not happening in the present, our wellbeing is reduced, and we suffer. This may be particularly true for people suffering from depression whose perceptions of self, others and the world are tainted by depressive mood, the mind is trapped in rumination and obsessive thoughts, and engagement with present moment happiness becomes a tremendous struggle.
From a neuroscience perspective, mindfulness practices strengthen execution attention network to increase focus and concentration and reduces the activity of Default Mode Network (DMN) to decrease mind wandering, this creates a unique mental state that is not attached to rumination, worry and self-criticism. This is great news!
Learning all the scientific benefits out there on mindfulness (which could take years) is unlikely to stop your mind from wandering, however a daily mindfulness practice will help you to harness the power of proven benefits. Your experiences with anxiety may change, instead of feeling anxious and avoid people and situations that make you anxious, you will start to notice your emotion just as emotion, without judgement and even with curiosity. Developing a different relationship with your thoughts and emotions means that you no longer need to use alcohol/drugs or engage in other unhelpful behaviours to numb out painful emotions. With mindful awareness, what you do does not have to be controlled by how you feel. As the world-renowned meditation teacher Thich Nhat Hahn puts it “Breathing in, I calm my body, breath out, I smile. Dwelling on the present moment, I know this is a wonderful moment”
Mindfulness offers a path to wellbeing and tools for coping with life’s inevitable challenges. A mindfulness-focused training programme will help you become more focused in daily life, cope with difficult feelings like anger and sadness, strengthen your connection to your family, curb unhealthy habits like substance use and find relief from anxiety, depression and stress-related pain.
Mindfulness training is at the foundation of the Capri Sanctuary Programme.
Capri Sanctuary provides an environment that has a focus on our Guest’s ‘Wellbeing’. Our clinical programme is evidence-informed and underpinned by our philosophy based in ‘Transformation through Partnership and Relationship’. It is delivered to you by our highly qualified and experienced team and directed to meet our Guest’s specific individual needs.
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“Thank you Brent and the team at Capri Sanctuary for making me feel I can have a life worth living, and providing me with the tools and resources to deal with life's problems. ” — MH (Warkworth)
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