Monthly Archives: October 2015

Exploring the promise of mindfulness as medicine

Laura Buchholz
JAMA. 2015;314(13):1327-1329. doi:10.1001/jama.2015.7023.

From the JAMA NetworkMindfulness and Medicine

Mindfulness practices as we know them today are rooted in 2500-year-old Buddhist meditation practices and are often described as “…paying attention to the present moment experiences with openness, curiosity, and a willingness to be with what is” (http://marc.ucla.edu/). Herbert Benson, MD, founder of the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital, is often credited with bringing mindfulness into the realm of Western medicine. His 1975 book The Relaxation Response outlined techniques to combat the harmful effects of stress with relaxation methods similar to meditation.

These practices didn’t stay lodged in the 1970s like a macramé plant holder, however. Several structured mindfulness programs have since been developed and are being implemented in clinical practice. One of these is mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR), pioneered by Jon Kabat-Zinn, PhD, MPH, founding executive director of the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School (http://1.usa.gov/1KZm8DF).

Another is mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT), a blend of MBSR and cognitive-behavioral therapy established by Zindel Segal, PhD, a cognitive psychologist at the University of Toronto, along with colleagues Mark Williams, PhD, and John Teasdale, PhD (http://1.usa.gov/1e0vpOo).

According to Gregory Lewis Fricchione, MD, director of the Benson-Henry Institute, “…mindfulness and other meditative techniques can provide adjunctive benefits for health and that includes mental health.”

Read the full article.

Does mindfulness make for a better athlete?

From the New York Times

Mindfulness and athleticsWhen athletes learn how to be more aware of their bodies they may also change the workings of their brains and become more resilient to stress, according to a new study of the effects of mindfulness meditation on brain function in serious athletes.

The study, which was published recently in Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, had its unusual origins in a balk at the starting gate by one of the top riders for the U.S. Men’s National BMX team. Watching, his baffled coach wondered how he could help his riders to better handle the anxiety and psychological rigors of competition. So he approached scientists affiliated with the department of psychiatry and the Center for Mindfulness at the University of California, San Diego, near where the team trains, and asked if they might be interested in working with and studying his seven-man team.

Continue reading.