The start of Mindfulness
Mindfulness is not something new, it actually originates from the time of the Buddha, about 2500 years ago. Mindfulness in combination with concentration can lead to insights. This is practiced nowadays in Vipassana meditation or also called Insight Meditation.
Mindfulness was introduced in the West by the Vietnamese monk Thich Nhat Hanh. He founded a community in France, which is called “Plum Village”. Thich Nhat Hanh has written many books about Mindfulness.
And then there is Jon Kabat-Zinn who is an American biomedical scientist who practices Vipassana meditation and Mindfulness with Thich Nhat Hanh among others. What Kabat-Zinn did is he took Mindfulness out of the Buddhist context and developed the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) training in the ‘70s. This training was initially developed for medical patients with maladaptive health behaviors, stress-related conditions and/or chronic pain. These patients learned to deal with their conditions by observing what is happening in the present moment without any judgement. The MBSR training got embedded in the mainstream Medicine Science and got further developed and implemented by the University of Massachusetts. Jon Kabat-Zinn has written the books “Full Catastrophe Living” and “Wherever you go there you are” for those of you who would like to read more about it.
The development of Mindfulness
Mindfulness has become widely available in Europe and the United States. The MBSR training has been applied to different groups of people with stress related conditions to severe health issues. Leading psychologists Teasdale, Segal and Williams have developed a variation to the MBSR training, which is called Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) to prevent recurrence of depression. Participants learn how to deal with negative thoughts and feelings which can fuel a depression, by observing them as passing events in the mind. Teasale, Segal and Williams have published the book “Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy” which includes scientific research of the effects of mindfulness on the prevention of recurrence of depression.
Connecting to the Western society
The 8 weeks MBSRS training as developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn focusses on themes in our society such as:
- How to reduce stress?
- Learn to let go and worry less
- How take decisions which are supportive and have a positive impact on us
- How to deal with the expectations of society and the people around us?
By training your awareness and learn to observe the present moment you will start working with these themes. It is a very practical, hands on training in which you can stay with both feet on the ground. You will learn to deal better with stress, be more in contact with your needs and feelings and develop a friendly attitude towards yourself and others.
Scientific research on the effects of Mindfulness
There is a huge amount of Scientific Research being conducted to the effects of Mindfulness. Especially the area of Neuro Science makes sure the number of research grows exponentially as you can see in the graph. Below some conclusions are given from Scientific studies on the effects of the 8 weeks MBSR Mindfulness training:
- Reduction of stress by 40%
Researchers form the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center have performed a study on their employees at the Intensive care. Research indicated that after 8 weeks Mindfulness training of the employees, stress was reduced by 40%. Here you can find further information about this study.
- Reduction in anxiety and panic
Miller, Fletcher and Kabat-Zinn (1995) have conducted research to the effectiveness of Mindfulness among people with with anxiety disorders. The participants demonstrated a reduction in anxiety and panic after having conducted the 8 weeks Mindfulness training. Even after three years the results were still there. Here you can find further information about this study.
- Reduction of worrying
Professor Mark Cropley from the University of Surrey demonstrates the reduction of worry by practicing Mindfulness. Here you can find further information about this study.