© Mindfulmedicine.co.uk. All Rights Reserved   

Mindfulmedicine.co.uk

 

enabling awareness for all 

Blog Page
Mark Leonard January 2014
January 2014 Guest Blog
Click here to read Mark’s Blog Click here to read Mark’s Blog
enabling awareness for all
Mindfulmedicine.co.uk
Autumn Colours Autumn Leaves
Karen Neil April 2015 Blog Mindfulness and dementia My eyes were opened last week to a very important project running on my doorstep at the University of Nottingham. In 2010, researchers at the Institute of Mental Health published work looking at the experiences of staff working on dementia wards. Following the publication of this work, the researchers commissioned a play based on their findings. I went to see inside out of mind last week and was extremely moved by the clever portrayal of life working with this extremely challenging and increasingly common disease. The play made clear what is expected of poorly paid healthcare assistants with a comment made that ‘if you look at the pay roll you might think that I am doing this as a hobby.’ When asked ‘how do you cope?’ by the researcher in the play, a nurse answered ‘well there are lots of antidepressants available, or there’s the bottle.’ There were many touching moments of human connection during the play but also evidence of staff themselves becoming institutionalised and actors interchanging between roles as patients and staff. The massive challenges for the NHS were clear for all to see, with the increase in dementia as we are living longer. As a mindfulness teacher, my attention wandered to thoughts of how mindfulness can help. Most people are now touched by dementia, perhaps knowing a friend, relative or neighbour with the disease. My life has also been touched by dementia, listening to my mum talk about working with dementia as a nurse in a care home, seeing my nana deteriorate with the disease, and more recently visiting the wife of a friend who passed away in difficult circumstances, leaving his wife in a care home suffering with dementia. I am very familiar with the many emotions that come with listening to repeated stories as though for the first time, the fear that comes with unpredictable behaviour and the grief for a person you once loved who is no longer there but yet still alive. And I know that mindfulness helps. The play and research are vitally important in raising awareness of what is going on in our hospitals and care homes and I hope many more people have the opportunity of seeing it as the tour continues. I was moved to write about this work and also to highlight the potential role of mindfulness. Mindfulness has been shown to reduce age-related cognitive decline, increase working memory, enhance emotion regulation and psychological well-being, decrease depression & anxiety, and reduce burnout. We need more research, especially randomised controlled trials looking at the impact of mindfulness practice on both patients with dementia and their carers. There is however, already evidence suggesting that mindfulness can help as part of an integrated approach to managing this disease and many others. Karen Neil April 2015 Blog Further Reading National Institute For Health Research Inside Out of Mind
Karen Neil September 2016 Blog Mindfulness and Christianity I am often asked my view as to where mindfulness ‘sits’ with spirituality and faith and many people still perceive mindfulness to be a Buddhist practice. I like to describe mindfulness as an innate human quality, and invite people to think back to times when they were fully present in the moment, perhaps looking up at the clouds as a child, when out in nature, or attending a concert. In her blog Is Mindfulness a Religion? Sarah Rudell Beach says: “The fact that so many of our traditions- religious and secular, spiritual and philosophical- come back to these fundamental practices of compassion and awareness suggests that mindfulness is simply part of the human experience.” She quotes Ohio Congressman Tim Ryan who writes in his book A Mindful Nation ‘‘Mindfulness itself is not a religion. Practicing it does not require giving up religious faith, or adopting a ‘foreign’ faith, or becoming religious if you are not so inclined.’’ As Jon Kabat-Zinn says, mindfulness is ‘simple but not easy.’ Not easy because we spend so much of our time on automatic pilot or lost in thought. We have busy minds prone to jumping from place to place, often useless and at worst harmful that without awareness, can negatively impact our well- being. For Christians, this can reduce the time for connection with God, even while at Church as described by Eden Kozlowsk in her blog Can Christians Practice Mindfulness? In practising meditation, according to the Oxford Modern English Dictionary definition, we are ‘exercising the mind in contemplation,’ which is merely to ‘survey with the eyes or in the mind,’ to ‘focus on a subject,’ which in mindfulness meditation may be bodily sensations, thoughts, sounds or other aspects of our internal and/or external environment. This is practised with attitudes of compassion, curiosity and non-judgment and individuals are guided to find their own way with the practice, moving away from anything that feels wrong. For example, those with pain proceed cautiously in approaching their pain under the guidance of a suitably trained teacher. Mindfulness practice has 3 essential components: 1. Intentionality- it is a deliberate act 2. The focus of attention, with awareness, of one ‘anchor’ 3. Repetition During worship, the anchor might be words of a prayer or chant, the smell of incense, or the smell and taste of bread and wine during the ritual of Holy Communion. Praying with a rosary is also a mindful practice including the components above. I think to address the question about mindfulness as a Buddhist practice, it is useful to go back to the original quest of the Buddha. He was born into wealth as a Prince, but realised that wealth was not able to prevent the pains associated with old age, sickness and death. He noticed a difference between primary suffering associated with these facts of life, and secondary suffering, resulting from our reactions to them (Listen to Karen Neil interview with Jake Dartington - Karen Neil on Stress and Mindfulness). Mindfulness practice was part of the Buddha’s realisation of a way to reduce secondary suffering and this is why it forms a core component of Buddhist life. Meditation, much of which overlaps with mindfulness has also featured in many other traditions over thousands of years, including Christianity, Judaism, Sikhism, Taoism and Sufism. Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR), developed predominantly to ‘plug the gap’ in healthcare in the USA, has often been described as a ‘secular’ course. Saki Santorelli, co-founder of the stress reduction clinic with Jon Kabat-Zinn however, prefers the word ‘spiritual,’ which includes, rather than excludes, the deepening of faith described by some practitioners. For others, it remains a subtle practice of gaining more control over unhelpful or depleting thought patterns and/or a way of coping better with difficulty, from interview anxiety, exam stress, difficult relationships, illness, job insecurity, to caring for young children or a sick friend or relative or reaching their full potential at work. I have experienced a number of participants on 8 week mindfulness courses, reporting a deepening/greater connection with their faith. One lady went on to attend a Christian Alpha course. She recommended mindful breathing to the group as a way of settling and preparing for prayer and reported that it was helpful and well received.   Eden Kozlowski answers the question Can Christians Practice Mindfulness? with ‘’a resounding yes, yes and ooohhh, yes.’’ She comments that ‘Mindfulness allows everyone to bask in his or her own faith, belief and wishes’ and also explains that mindfulness enables a deeper connection to God. She goes on to highlight an issue close to my heart that of the damaging impact of stress to our bodies together with the economic burden to business in America and I would add the NHS in the UK. The accumulating evidence from scientific research provides increasing evidence of benefit of mindfulness practice to our health and well-being. It appears extremely logical to me to conclude that the practice of mindfulness sits alongside regular exercise, a healthy diet and connecting with others as means for living a happy and healthy life. In conclusion, meditation, including mindfulness has been a feature of many faiths over thousands of years, and has the potential to deepen faith across all denominations. Groups often describe the experience of connecting with a sense of shared humanity when learning mindfulness, and many make the comforting observation that ‘it’s not just me.’ Karen Neil September Blog 2016 Further reading Is Mindfulness a Religion? Can Christians Practice Mindfulness?
© Mindfulmedicine.co.uk. All Rights Reserved   

Mindfulmedicine.co.uk

 

enabling awareness for all 

Blog Page
Mark Leonard January 2014
January 2014 Guest Blog
Click here to read Mark’s Blog Click here to read Mark’s Blog
enabling awareness for all
Mindfulmedicine.co.uk
Autumn Leaves Autumn colours Autumn Bounty
Karen Neil April 2015 Blog Mindfulness and dementia My eyes were opened last week to a very important project running on my doorstep at the University of Nottingham. In 2010, researchers at the Institute of Mental Health published work looking at the experiences of staff working on dementia wards. Following the publication of this work, the researchers commissioned a play based on their findings. I went to see inside out of mind last week and was extremely moved by the clever portrayal of life working with this extremely challenging and increasingly common disease. The play made clear what is expected of poorly paid healthcare assistants with a comment made that ‘if you look at the pay roll you might think that I am doing this as a hobby.’ When asked ‘how do you cope?’ by the researcher in the play, a nurse answered ‘well there are lots of antidepressants available, or there’s the bottle.’ There were many touching moments of human connection during the play but also evidence of staff themselves becoming institutionalised and actors interchanging between roles as patients and staff. The massive challenges for the NHS were clear for all to see, with the increase in dementia as we are living longer. As a mindfulness teacher, my attention wandered to thoughts of how mindfulness can help. Most people are now touched by dementia, perhaps knowing a friend, relative or neighbour with the disease. My life has also been touched by dementia, listening to my mum talk about working with dementia as a nurse in a care home, seeing my nana deteriorate with the disease, and more recently visiting the wife of a friend who passed away in difficult circumstances, leaving his wife in a care home suffering with dementia. I am very familiar with the many emotions that come with listening to repeated stories as though for the first time, the fear that comes with unpredictable behaviour and the grief for a person you once loved who is no longer there but yet still alive. And I know that mindfulness helps. The play and research are vitally important in raising awareness of what is going on in our hospitals and care homes and I hope many more people have the opportunity of seeing it as the tour continues. I was moved to write about this work and also to highlight the potential role of mindfulness. Mindfulness has been shown to reduce age- related cognitive decline, increase working memory, enhance emotion regulation and psychological well-being, decrease depression & anxiety, and reduce burnout. We need more research, especially randomised controlled trials looking at the impact of mindfulness practice on both patients with dementia and their carers. There is however, already evidence suggesting that mindfulness can help as part of an integrated approach to managing this disease and many others. Karen Neil April 2015 Blog Further Reading National Institute For Health Research Inside Out of Mind
Karen Neil September 2016 Blog Mindfulness and Christianity I am often asked my view as to where mindfulness ‘sits’ with spirituality and faith and many people still perceive mindfulness to be a Buddhist practice. I like to describe mindfulness as an innate human quality, and invite people to think back to times when they were fully present in the moment, perhaps looking up at the clouds as a child, when out in nature, or attending a concert. In her blog Is Mindfulness a Religion? Sarah Rudell Beach says: “The fact that so many of our traditions- religious and secular, spiritual and philosophical- come back to these fundamental practices of compassion and awareness suggests that mindfulness is simply part of the human experience.” She quotes Ohio Congressman Tim Ryan who writes in his book A Mindful Nation ‘‘Mindfulness itself is not a religion. Practicing it does not require giving up religious faith, or adopting a ‘foreign’ faith, or becoming religious if you are not so inclined.’’ As Jon Kabat-Zinn says, mindfulness is ‘simple but not easy.’ Not easy because we spend so much of our time on automatic pilot or lost in thought. We have busy minds prone to jumping from place to place, often useless and at worst harmful that without awareness, can negatively impact our well-being. For Christians, this can reduce the time for connection with God, even while at Church as described by Eden Kozlowsk in her blog Can Christians Practice Mindfulness? In practising meditation, according to the Oxford Modern English Dictionary definition, we are ‘exercising the mind in contemplation,’ which is merely to ‘survey with the eyes or in the mind,’ to ‘focus on a subject,’ which in mindfulness meditation may be bodily sensations, thoughts, sounds or other aspects of our internal and/or external environment. This is practised with attitudes of compassion, curiosity and non-judgment and individuals are guided to find their own way with the practice, moving away from anything that feels wrong. For example, those with pain proceed cautiously in approaching their pain under the guidance of a suitably trained teacher. Mindfulness practice has 3 essential components: 1. Intentionality- it is a deliberate act 2. The focus of attention, with awareness, of one ‘anchor’ 3. Repetition During worship, the anchor might be words of a prayer or chant, the smell of incense, or the smell and taste of bread and wine during the ritual of Holy Communion. Praying with a rosary is also a mindful practice including the components above. I think to address the question about mindfulness as a Buddhist practice, it is useful to go back to the original quest of the Buddha. He was born into wealth as a Prince, but realised that wealth was not able to prevent the pains associated with old age, sickness and death. He noticed a difference between primary suffering associated with these facts of life, and secondary suffering, resulting from our reactions to them (Listen to Karen Neil interview with Jake Dartington - Karen Neil on Stress and Mindfulness). Mindfulness practice was part of the Buddha’s realisation of a way to reduce secondary suffering and this is why it forms a core component of Buddhist life. Meditation, much of which overlaps with mindfulness has also featured in many other traditions over thousands of years, including Christianity, Judaism, Sikhism, Taoism and Sufism. Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR), developed predominantly to ‘plug the gap’ in healthcare in the USA, has often been described as a ‘secular’ course. Saki Santorelli, co-founder of the stress reduction clinic with Jon Kabat- Zinn however, prefers the word ‘spiritual,’ which includes, rather than excludes, the deepening of faith described by some practitioners. For others, it remains a subtle practice of gaining more control over unhelpful or depleting thought patterns and/or a way of coping better with difficulty, from interview anxiety, exam stress, difficult relationships, illness, job insecurity, to caring for young children or a sick friend or relative or reaching their full potential at work. I have experienced a number of participants on 8 week mindfulness courses, reporting a deepening/greater connection with their faith. One lady went on to attend a Christian Alpha course. She recommended mindful breathing to the group as a way of settling and preparing for prayer and reported that it was helpful and well received.   Eden Kozlowski answers the question Can Christians Practice Mindfulness? with ‘’a resounding yes, yes and ooohhh, yes.’’ She comments that ‘Mindfulness allows everyone to bask in his or her own faith, belief and wishes’ and also explains that mindfulness enables a deeper connection to God. She goes on to highlight an issue close to my heart that of the damaging impact of stress to our bodies together with the economic burden to business in America and I would add the NHS in the UK. The accumulating evidence from scientific research provides increasing evidence of benefit of mindfulness practice to our health and well-being. It appears extremely logical to me to conclude that the practice of mindfulness sits alongside regular exercise, a healthy diet and connecting with others as means for living a happy and healthy life. In conclusion, meditation, including mindfulness has been a feature of many faiths over thousands of years, and has the potential to deepen faith across all denominations. Groups often describe the experience of connecting with a sense of shared humanity when learning mindfulness, and many make the comforting observation that ‘it’s not just me.’ Karen Neil September Blog 2016 Further reading Is Mindfulness a Religion? Can Christians Practice Mindfulness?