As far back as 1997, the positive effects of mindfulness meditation have been reported in medical journals. In Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics in 1997, Astin suggested that training yourself to take a step back into the role of observer through mindfulness meditation can help improve the ability to cope with life events and help prevent relapse of some affective disorders. Speca and friends found also it useful for reducing mood disturbance and stress in cancer patients in 2000. In this one from 2003 in Psychosomatic Medicine, Davidson and friends noticed positive changes in brain and immune function, suggesting the need for further research. Recently there has been increased focus in the mainstream media on the benefits of mindfulness meditation.
Recently the mainstream media has started taking notice, publishing the results of several studies. Leading up to Mental Health Awareness week in the UK in May this year, the Independent suggested that GPs should offer mindfulness to help battle stress in the general population. In April 2015, the UK Telegraph reported on research showing mindfulness just as good as anti-depressant medication (We DO NOT suggest that people stop taking their medication. If you find yourself feeling better after mindfulness meditation, discuss this and your medication with your regular GP). Harvard has also published research showing how mindfulness meditation changes your brain. This has been summarised in this quite cool video:
In May I was lucky enough to get along to a 2-day workshop focusing on a variety of mindfulness mediation techniques employed by practitioners of Buddhism. Run by the lovely Venerable Drolkar, a down-to-earth Australian nun trained in the teachings of the Dalai Lama at Janette's lovely Serenity Space in Scarborough.
It is great to learn techniques from a variety of different people, because everyone who comes to meditation is different. Maybe one technique does not help you very much, but with another you can find the peace and relaxation comes as your mind draws away from the thoughts that concern you each day.
The first day was an introduction with the second day going into greater depth. We experienced several different meditations each day, some of which I look forward to sharing with you in meditation classes. While a couple of these meditations were similar to techniques I have used, body scans, breath focus and simple mindfulness meditations, most of them were very different. I look forward to guiding everyone through the following mindfulness techniques at some stage:
- a body of light meditation (sounds lovely, doesn't it?)
- one to help with pain and discomfort in the body
- others to help with emotions and personal problems
- yet another to help with our perceptions of past actions (things that lead to negative self talk now)
- a walking meditation
- a meditation aimed at reducing anger and hate in interpersonal relations, and
- a beautiful universal love and compassion meditation
If you would like to try meditation, come along to any of our classes:
- Monday and Friday at 9am
- Wednesday at 7pm
Beginners are welcome. If you 'CANNOT meditate' I recommend that you come to try once. You will find that there are many different ways to meditate and I am sure you will find one that will work for you. I am sure because I WAS one of those people who CANNOT meditate.
Classes are by donation.