Mindfulness: The Essence And Application

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In the modern world where everyone claims to be independent, the kind of people who sought help and comes forward admitting that they need help is scarce. This is when we the health professionals’ step in to improve the wellbeing of those people life who refuse to initiate or accept help. Mindfulness being one means of therapeutic intervention; this research paper will illuminate in detail what mindfulness is and how it can be applied in the clinical setting making a better life for mankind. Being mindful as explained by Anthony in the British Journal of Psychiatry is a focus on the mind rather than behaviour, mindfulness is enhanced attention to, and emotionally detached awareness of, current experience, requiring openness to sensation without judgment. (Bateman, 2012) As explicated in Buddhism, mindfulness is the fact about being at the present moment. The aim of mindfulness practice is to develop a non-judgemental awareness of the present moment (Mclntosh, 2017). One can be mindful of a tree, of one’s sleeping, or of another’s behaviour. Practicing mindfulness improves depression and emotional regulation through detachment, changing not thoughts and feelings but the person’s relationship and judgment towards them. We all need to be mindful in our everyday work. (Bateman, 2012).

With origins in Buddhist practices, the theoretical foundations of mindfulness have been imported into a Western biomedical framework through the work of practitioners and researchers in medicine and psychology (Simon, James, and William as cited in Grossman, Niemann, Schmidt, & Walach, 2004). This process has been fruitful, such that today there are an expanding number of mindfulness‐based approaches to a variety of psychological and medical conditions and a growing research base to support their dissemination (Simon, James, and William as cited in Hofmann, Sawyer, Witt, & Oh, 2010; Mars & Abbey, 2010). Recently, mindfulness researchers have been encouraged to implement more rigorous research designs for testing the efficacy and mechanisms of various treatments (Simon, James, and William as cited in Baer, 2003; Coelho, Canter, & Ernst, 2007). This shift has included an increased emphasis on randomized controlled trials for assessing the unique therapeutic contributions that mindfulness approaches may provide.

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Mental illness is a leading cause of disability and premature mortality and contributes to a significant portion of health care resources. Studies in neuropsychiatry and neurobiology show that serious mental illness, including mood and anxiety disorders, diminishes a vulnerable individual’s neurobiological threshold for environmental stressors. This vulnerability results in a chronic course of periods of relapse and remittance of symptoms. The recurrent nature of these episodes of psychiatric symptoms is associated with varying degrees of functional disability characterizing the chronic course of mental illnesses (Day & Horton-Deutsch, 2004) as cited in Teasdale et al 2000, Young et al 2001.

Mindfulness-based approaches have been shown to relieve distress and increase the perceived sense of control for individuals with chronic medical and psychiatric illnesses (Day & Deutsch as cited in Miller et al 1995, Borysenko 2002, Kabat-Zinn et al 1985). Mindfulness-based therapeutic interventions teach patients an alternative perspective from which to view their situation, a more detached perspective to observe one’s stream of changing thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations. Mindfulness interventions teach patients to become increasingly more attentive to the moment by engaging in a state of attentiveness to observe their inner thoughts and feelings as well as their outer world of actions and perceptions. The aim of this therapeutic approach is fundamentally to teach patients with mental illness ways to improve distress and manage their suffering (Day & Deutsch as cited in Borysenko, 1988)

Psychotherapists are beginning to offer individual patients mindfulness-based therapeutic interventions. Preliminary case evidence suggests these therapeutic interventions may relieve distress and improve the quality of life for individuals in the context of a wide range of chronic medical and psychiatric illnesses. (O’Haver Day & Horton-Deutsch, 2004) as cited in Quintana and Holahan 1992).

Yoga and mindfulness could be clinically valuable self-administered intervention options for stroke rehabilitation (Lazaridou, Philbrook, & Tzika, 2013) Unlike some forms of addictions treatment available to underserved and marginalized persons, mindfulness training through MORE appears to target the very pathogenic mechanisms that maintain addictive behavior [ (Garland, Schwarz, Kelly, Whitt, & Howard, 2012)as cited in Garland et al., 2010].The practice of mindfulness might attenuate stress reactivity while increasing awareness and disrupting the automatic compulsion to consume psychoactive substances, leading to an increased ability to cope with emotional upsets and substance urges in stressful contexts. (Garland, Schwarz, Kelly, Whitt, & Howard, 2012) Mindfulness training could assist marginalized persons in recovering from addiction. Mindfulness-based interventions can decrease addictive behaviors while promoting nonreactivity to stressors (Garland, Schwarz, Kelly, Whitt, & Howard, 2012)

Being mindful not only helps the patients but also the health professionals. People who work in hospitals and age care centers claim that mindfulness has helped them become more aware, less stressed and helped in becoming more compassionate. For instance, Rose asserted “if I am faced with a challenging situation, mindfulness has enabled me to change my perspective by taking a step back and observing the experience, recognizing what is important and letting go of what is not important. I intend to undertake mindfulness training to support my mental health, with the aim of improving the care I provide to patients in the future. I look forward to engaging in mindfulness practices and becoming a more mindful nurse who interacts and connects with others, and cares for them without feeling overwhelmed”. (Gallacher, 2017). Matthew also on mindfulness says that it helps reduce physical restraint. (Mckew, 2017). Mindfulness is considered as a means of intervention for management of depression not only for the patients but also for the people at large including the health workers (Davies, 2017)

Mindfulness has been gaining widening acceptance in the Western world, especially with respect to its application in the relief of human distress and suffering (Day & Deutsch as cited in Hirst, 2003). It is only in the past 20 years that Western physicians, neuroscientists, and mental health professionals have begun to comprehend the wisdom of 2,500 years of Buddhist philosophy and recognize the interrelationship between emotional states and physical and mental well-being (Day & Deutsch as cited in Goleman, 1997).

(Garland, Schwarz, Kelly, Whitt, & Howard, 2012)If future studies continue to yield promising findings, mindfulness-oriented interventions should not only be made available to the privileged but should also be accessible to the more vulnerable members of society, who might in fact need them the most. 


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