introduction to mindfulness meditation

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Introduction to Mindfulness meditation

Introduction to Mindfulness


Alexandra Arbogast, LICSW, RYT, CMTProgram Coordinator & TherapistMind-Body Medicine ProgramInternal Medicine / Warrior Clinic / NICoEWRNMMC301-319-4960 /



Based on the premise that the mind and body are intimately interconnected. Utilizes techniques to optimize this relationship for improved health and wellbeing.

Teach mindfulness-based skills that can be integrated into daily life to reduce stress, manage pain, enhance sleep, strengthen positive qualities, and improve overall quality of life.

Offers a low-cost, self-directed, complement to traditional medical care.

The Mind-Body Medicine Programat Walter Reed - Bethesda

Mindfulness-based skills

Improved self-management

Tap into self-healing potential

Complement to other care3

MindfulnessAttention training to cultivate qualities of concentration, clarity, and equanimity. The common thread connecting all other skills.

RelaxationTechniques to elicit the relaxation response in mind and body

Yoga Movement and breathing strategies to synchronize mind and body and release tension.

Positive PsychologyPractices to cultivate and strengthen positive mind/emotional states.

Resiliency TrainingTechniques for balancing the nervous system, processing trauma, and strengthening the resilient zone.Mind-Body Skills

Mindfulness is common thread throughout4



Its Hot!

30 million Americans have tried it or practice regularly In the past year alone, it has been the cover story of Time and Scientific American and there was just a 60-minutes special on itOprah, NFL players, and even the US Marines are doing itIt is being integrated into schools, prisons and practiced by politicians.


Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way; On purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally.

-Jon Kabat-ZinnFounder of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR)

What is it?

One definition

JKZ-Pioneer of mindfulness in the West. Founder of Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction. Touch on more later

2 Main components:Present moment awarenessAttitude of non-judgmental curiosity7

Regular Practice Cultivates 3 Core Skills

Concentration: The ability to focus and stabilize ones attention.

Sensory Clarity: The ability to keep track of the components of sensory experience as they arise in various combinations, moment-by-moment.

Equanimity: The ability to be with experience with an attitude of gentle matter-of-factness.

According to Shinzen Young, another pioneering mindfulness teacher in the West, mindfulness practice cultivates 3 core skills8

Many techniques! Depends on teacher and traditionRestrictive or open attentionNoting option

Beginner practices: Restrictive focus, such as breath meditationDevelops/strengthens core skills of concentration, clarity and equanimity

Intermediate / advanced practices:Open awareness to increasing amount of sensory experience, such as choiceless awareness

Formal and informal practices

Mindfulness Training Techniques

Noting for example, observe a thought, note thinking or more specifically judging or planning. Many ways to note as well.9


Where Does It Come From?In the 19th century, mindfulness was used to translate the Pali word Sati. Pali is the canonical language of Theravada, a form of Buddhism found in Southeast Asia.

Establishing Mindfulness (Satipatthana) is a primary practice of Theravada Buddhism.

It is said to lead to insight into the true nature of self and reality (impermanence, the suffering of conditioned existence, and non-self)

This is not to say that mindfulness was only practiced in Buddhism. There are versions of mindfulness and meditation in many of the worlds traditions.11

Mindfulness Arrives in the WestIn the 60s and 70s, Westerners began going to Southeast Asia to learn mindfulness practices. They brought those practices back to the West and began to teach them within the framework of Buddhism.

In the 80s and 90s, it was discovered that those practices could be extracted from Buddhism and the cultural matrix of Asia and used within a secular context.

Jack Kornfield, Sharon Salzberg, Joseph Goldstein12

Secular MindfulnessMindfulness awareness practices started to be used within a secular context to develop useful attentional skills.

These practices became ever more prevalent in clinical settings for pain management, addiction recovery, stress reduction, and as an adjunct to psychotherapy.

Useful attentional skills

More prevalent in clinical settings13

Mindfulness in HealthcareIn 1979, Jon Kabat-Zinn created Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) at the University of Massachusetts Medical School to treat chronically ill patients.

Subsequently, a number of other psychotherapeutic modalities centering around mindfulness were developed: Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT); Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT); Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT).

JKZ PhD in Molecular Biology from MIT. Thinks of himself as Scientist vs Buddhist

DBT Borderline Personality DisorderMBCT - depression14

Mindfulness in SocietyIncreasingly, it is being understood that mindful awareness is a cultivatable skill with broad applications through all aspects of society, including education, prison system, politics, business, and even the training of soldiers.

Tim Ryan-Congressman from Ohio

-Promoting meditation on Capitol Hill

-Secured federal funding for a pilot meditation program at schools in his district

-Wrote a book, A Mindful Nation: How a Simple Practice Can Help Us Reduce Stress, Improve Performance, and Recapture the America Spirit. On how he sees mindfulness as a cure to the stress of modern life, and something that can help heal Congress and the world.

-If this can help me, a half-Irish, half-Italian quarterback from Northeast Ohio, its for everybody,

Schools2011-2012 school year

The Mindful Schools Program partnered with the UC-Davis

Conducted largest randomized-controlled study to date on mindfulness and children

937 children, 47 teachers in 3 Oakland public elementary schools.

The Mindful Schools curriculum produced statistically significant improvements in behavior versus the control group with just 4 hours of mindfulness instruction for the students.

Found increases in paying attention, calming/self-control, self-care/participation, and showing care for others


The Benefits of Mindfulness

One of the main reasons mindfulness is entering the mainstream more and more is because of all the research coming out on the benefits.16

Changes the Brain in Positive WaysMindfulness

Shows how the brain changes in positive ways with meditation!

Parts of brain related to attention, sensory processing, emotion and stress regulation, and empathy/compassion, are strengthened!

For example, research from Dr. Richard Davidsons lab at the University of Wisconsin-Madison has shown that meditators are better able to monitor emotions and thoughts and let go of those that might cause distress.

At the University of North Carolina, psychologists studying mindfulness found mindfulness-trained participants showed significant improvement in their critical cognitive skills and performed significantly higher in cognitive tests than a control group, after only 4 days of training for only 20 minutes per day.


Overcoming Fear and AngerOld BrainVs.New Brain

Newest part of brain evolutionarily prefrontal cortex and specifically anterior cingulate responsible for higher thinking and processing faculties such as intuition, empathy, and social awareness get strengthened through meditative practices

Oldest part of brain hindbrain, more primitive, survival brain, governs instinctual behavioral reflexes driven by fear and anger gets suppressed and controlled through meditative practices

So meditative practices strengthen higher functioning parts of brain and subdue more primitive brain


NeuroplasticityRecent research in neuroscience shows that we have the power to influence our brains.

When we think certain thoughts, it strengthens those neural circuits. Mental States Become Neural Traits!

Self-Directed Neuroplasticity = Nurture positive states of mind to strengthen and build those neural networks. Make Happiness a Habit!

The brain is like a muscle that we can build through practicing skills.


Pro-Social BehaviorImpulse RegulationEmotional AwarenessCompassion & EmpathyForgiveness

Increased awareness of ones internal and external experience promotes reflection, self regulation, and caring for othersImpulse regulation--studies show mindfulness reduces aggression and disruptive behavior--helps us manage reactions to triggers like anger, danger

2) emotional awareness--managing emotions--Applied to interpersonal relationships--Studies found that meditators have higher levels of activity in the parietal parts of their brain, which is associated with increased consciousness and the ability to resonate to other peoples feelings and thoughts

3) Development of empathy--Findings indicate that even very short-term practice of compassion meditation, a more directive kind of mindfulness practice, induces explicit and implicit increases in positive affect toward strangers. One study done at Stanford Univers


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