At the APA’s annual meeting this year, the hot topic up for discussion was mindfulness meditation. This kind of treatment has existed throughout the ages, but has recently become extremely popular. It has shown positive results for a myriad of disorders like anxiety, post-traumatic stress, and addiction.
Several doctors think that the practice of mindfulness meditation, the conscious effort to relax the mind, is linked to mental health. It almost seems too good to be true that one treatment could have such an effect on so many different mental illnesses. However, many doctors spoke very highly of mindfulness meditation as a great treatment option.
Stephen Southwick, M.D. at Yale, believes mindfulness meditation improves our stress response by increasing resiliency, our ability to handle stressful situations. He presented evidence about how random participants that engaged in mindfulness meditation showed an improved stress response, similar to members of the U.S. military. In addition, Judson Brewer, M.D. at Yale discussed how mindfulness meditation helps patients resist cravings for drugs and alcohol. Lastly, Lori Davis, M.D. at the University of Alabama Health Systems, noticed in some cases mindfulness caused improvements in stress induced inflammatory responses, which are connected to a variety of mental illnesses. In patients with PTSD, practicing mindfulness reduced many of their symptoms.
Although there are not enough studies to see significant results for the effectiveness of mindfulness meditation, it does seem to be helpful for many people. Taking time out of the day to rest the mind and focus on bodily awareness may be extremely therapeutic and reduce stress.
If you decide to try out mindfulness meditation, feel free to leave a comment about your experience! I suggest a 30-minute exercise of guided meditation (perhaps an audio recorded meditation) to get started.