Person Meditating with text overlay: Could Mindfulness Meditation Improve Wellness?

[Wellness Wednesday] Could Mindfulness Meditation Improve Wellness?

Welcome back to Wellness Wednesday! This week, I thought we’d talk a little about whether mindfulness meditation could improve our overall wellness.

Have you noticed how many medical facilities are now recommending meditation and other mind-body practices as part of a comprehensive treatment program?

There may be good reason for that. According to Vidyamala Burch and Danny Penman, authors of Mindfulness for Health, mindfulness meditation (the type most often used in hospital pain management) has many proven benefits, including

  • Reduction of pain and the emotional reaction to it
  • Improved mood and quality of life in chronic pain conditions
  • Reductions in anxiety, stress, and depression
  • Improved working memory and creativity
  • Enhanced brain function
  • Improved attention span
  • Improved heart and circulatory health

The Mayo Clinic says, “Meditation can give you a sense of calm, peace and balance that can benefit both your emotional well-being and your overall health.”

The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH)  has this to say about meditation:

Meditation is a mind and body practice that has a long history of use for increasing calmness and physical relaxation, improving psychological balance, coping with illness, and enhancing overall health and well-being. Mind and body practices focus on the interactions among the brain, mind, body, and behavior. 

What Is Mindfulness Meditation?

There are many types of meditation, but the one most often used in clinical settings is mindfulness meditation.

Verywellmind.com defines mindfulness meditation as “a mental training practice that involves focusing your mind on your experiences (like your own emotions, thoughts, and sensations) in the present moment. Mindfulness meditation can involve breathing practice, mental imagery, awareness of body and mind, and muscle and body relaxation.”

NCCIH explains it this way: “There are many types of meditation, but most have four elements in common: a quiet location with as few distractions as possible; a specific, comfortable posture (sitting, lying down, walking, or in other positions); a focus of attention (a specially chosen word or set of words, an object, or the sensations of the breath); and an open attitude (letting distractions come and go naturally without judging).” 

Meditation Isn’t For Everyone

Although meditation is helpful for many people, it may not be right for everyone.  Just as with everything else we might do for wellness, one size (or practice) doesn’t fit all.

In fact, in the post Mindfulness Monday Week 3, I shared this article, Mindfulness Is the Hottest New Trend — But Should It Be? by Tchiki Davis, Ph.D., which talks about how not only might meditation not be as successful as expected, it can even be harmful for some people.

The NCCIH also acknowledges that, “There have been rare reports that meditation could cause or worsen symptoms in people with certain psychiatric problems like anxiety and depression. People with existing mental health conditions should speak with their health care providers before starting a meditative practice, and make their meditation instructor aware of their condition.”

Where Can I Get Information About How to Meditate?

If you’re thinking of giving meditation a try, here are a couple of places you can find information about how to get started.

Mindfulness: An Eight-Week Plan for Finding Peace in a Frantic World by Mark Williams and Danny Penman, is a very down-to-earth, practical resource for learning mindfulness meditation. It takes you step-by-step through the process of developing a mindfulness practice. If you’re interested, you can follow my journey through the book by checking out my Mindfulness Monday series from a couple of years ago.

Mindful.org has many resources on mindfulness, including this guide to getting started  https://www.mindful.org/how-to-meditate/

Headspace also provides information about mindfulness and includes a beginning meditation practice https://www.headspace.com/meditation/how-to-meditate if you’re interested.

So What’s the Verdict?

The research so far seems to indicate that mindfulness meditation could help improve overall wellness, but as with any other wellness endeavors, you should do your own research. Make sure it’s appropriate for you before starting a meditation practice. The NCCIH cautions that meditation should not be used as a replacement for traditional medical care.  Also, we make your healthcare providers aware of any complementary or integrative health approaches you use.

What Do You Think?

Have you tried mindfulness meditation? If so, how did it impact your overall wellness? Please share!

Blessings,

~Terri

 

Sources:

https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/meditation/in-depth/meditation/art-20045858

https://www.verywellmind.com/mindfulness-meditation-88369

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/click-here-happiness/201711/mindfulness-is-the-hottest-new-trend-should-it-be

Mindfulness, An Eight-Week Plan for Finding Peace in a Frantic World, 2012, Mark Williams and Danny Penman, Fair Winds Press, Beverly, MA

https://www.mindful.org/how-to-meditate/

https://www.headspace.com/meditation/how-to-meditate

24 comments

    1. Thanks for sharing Pene! It’s really interesting how something that’s been around so long has suddenly become so popular. I think part of it is because the more traditional medical practices are integrating more complementary approaches, many with promising results. Blessings to you!

    1. Thanks for sharing Michelle! I’m glad it helps with your panic attacks. I have yet to really establish a meditation practice, but I pretty routinely use some of the “tools” I learned from going through the Mindfulness book a couple of years ago. Maybe one day I’ll actually set aside time to start meditating consistently.😊 Blessings to you!

  1. Meditation is essential, I believe, to keeping balance and garnering well-being. I’ve studied many different techniques over the years, and can attest to how adaptable it is to each lifestyle. Good post.

    1. Thanks so much V.J., and thanks for sharing! I’m glad you’ve found meditation helpful. I’m still working on establishing a consistent practice. As I’ve told other people, I learned about some really helpful tools from the Mindfulness book, but I haven’t been able to make myself be consistent with meditating. Sending hugs!

    1. Thank you so much Brigid, and thanks for sharing! It’s wonderful that you’ve been able to maintain your meditation practice over the years. I found the research into meditation absolutely fascinating. I found one study that focused on Kirtan Kriya as a way to help prevent or mitigate the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. I’m going to look into that a little more as well. Hope you’re doing well. Blessings to you!

      1. The FB group is how we share our posts with one another. I think in order to write for the CIB blog, you have to submit something to Jenna at the CIB website. Sorry I’m not more help….

  2. Thanks for sharing this Terri. You know, this is the one thing that I really need to work on cause I have a hard time meditating when I do have down time. My mind is so active that it often interrupts what I’m trying to do. But like they say something worthwhile is worth the trouble. Just have to work harder at it.

    1. Thanks for sharing Mark. Like you, my mind is busy all the time and I find meditation difficult. I have found some of the principles from the Mindfulness book helpful even though I still haven’t developed a consistent practice. One thing it taught me is that it’s okay for those thoughts to come up; I can just acknowledge having them and bring awareness back to my breath. Wishing you all the best!

  3. Meditation and mindfulness are certainly increasingly popular areas, and I do like the more holistic approach to wellness, mental and physical. I’ve tried it myself (but failed to stick with it, though I would like to rectify that) and it was recommended during my pain management sessions. However, when I did mindfulness meditation with my therapist in those sessions, I did have to disagree with her: body scans were not for me. With body scans, you’re putting more focus and attention on individual parts of the body, working your way up or down. Instead of leaving me feeling more in tune with myself and relaxed, I felt a heightened sense of pain and it had the opposite effect. So I do think there needs to be a little caution and a note that obviously these things work differently for everyone. General mindfulness meditation, even just taking 2 minutes here and there to focus on your breathing and allowing your thoughts to wander with no judgement, can be very beneficial.
    Caz xx

    1. Thanks so much for sharing Caz! Thanks for sharing your experience with the body scan also. It seems that when I did it while going through the Mindfulness book, I had a similar reaction to yours. I was told by a physical therapist a long time ago that I didn’t pay attention to my body, and that’s probably true. I think maybe I’d rather ignore how much pain I’m in so I don’t notice it as much until it’s brought to my attention by something like that. As you said, “things work differently for everyone.” Like you, I have found the breath work useful, even when I’m not “officially” meditating. Hugs!

  4. I find mindfulness and other forms of active meditation to be by far the most effective for my anxiety, depression and PTSD. It’s really helping me to keep my cool these days! It took me a while to figure out what worked for me, but I’m glad I didn’t give up the search!

    1. Thanks so much for sharing Michelle! It’s great to hear everyone’s different experiences with meditation. I’m glad you’ve found it so beneficial; finding things that help really is priceless! Hope you’re doing well sweet friend. Sending hugs your way!

  5. The GREAT news about meditation, is that there are infinite ways to do it. Sitting still and clearing your mind isn’t for everyone. But playing with children can be meditative. Reading can be meditative. Crafting can be meditative. How we feel about what we do is the key. There are SO many ways to soothe the heart and soul. Thanks for sharing this valuable information with this community! Powerful healing is at hand!

    1. Thanks so much for sharing Sue! You make such a great point about everything we do having the potential to be meditative. That’s so true, and something we probably don’t often think about. Blessings to you!

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