By Erika Engel, RP

While medication, psychotherapy, diet and exercise are important tools and can be effective in managing anxiety, depression, and pain, mindfulness has been medically proven as an effective way to lessen these problems. Think of it as a complementary form of medicine, originally developed in the Buddhist Traditions.

Jon Kabat-Zinn, who founded the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction and Relaxation Program, says “ Mindfulness is like Buddhist meditation without the Buddhism brought into the mainstream of medicine. You could think of mindfulness as wise and affectionate attention, paying attention to the present moment, non-judgementally.”

What would be an example of that?

Most of us feel a great desire to eat the sweets we love, wanting to reach for them with a great urge. Observe yourself and you can become aware of how strong that urge can be!

Does it work?

Mindfulness based meditation can improve the functioning of the brain. It has been shown to actually produce thickening in particular regions of the brain important for learning, memory, executive decision-making and perspective-taking: all important functions to have at optimal levels when you are under stress or experiencing pain. It also reduces the part of the brain that notices threat and fear.

Try it!!

Take 5 minutes and try the University of California guided meditation. Just click here.

Try a 12 minute meditation with Jon Kabat-Zinn

Let me know your feedback. Did you find it helpful? Keep it up every day. You will feel better.

There are Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction and Relaxation Programs (MBSRP) available in Toronto Hospitals:

  • MBSR Clinic (North York General Hospital) – Tel: (416) 483-3778
  • MBSR Clinic (Toronto General Hospital) – Tel: (416) 340-4452
  • Mindful Cognitive-Behaviour Therapy Program Anxiety Clinic (Toronto Western Hospital) – Tel: (416) 603-5738

Please note: You need a doctor’s referral to enroll.

There are also privately available programs for mindfulness meditation go to mindfulness courses to find out more about it.

For further reading on the benefits of mindfulness, you may also check out this New York Times blog post.