Mindfulness is “the intentional, accepting and non-judgemental focus of one’s attention on the emotions, thoughts and sensations occurring in the present moment”, which can be trained by a large extent in meditational practices. The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) published the results of a ground-breaking study that found that meditation appears to provide as much relief from some anxiety and depression symptoms as antidepressants.
Mindfulness-based trainings have shown beneficial effects on inflammatory disorders in prior clinical studies and are endorsed by the American Heart Association as a preventative intervention. The training provides a biological mechanism for therapeutic effects.
A study in Psychoneuroendocrinology by researchers in Wisconsin, Spain, and France reported the first evidence of specific molecular changes in the body following a period of intensive mindfulness practice.
Mindfulness Meditation The Most Effective Form
Dr. Madhav Goyal of the John Hopkins School of Medicine, who led the research published in JAMA, singled out mindfulness meditation as the most effective form.
“It doesn’t surprise me at all that mindfulness performs as well as or better than medication,” says Adrian Wells, a professor of psychopathology at Manchester University and a clinical advisor to the charity Anxiety UK. The psychologist Katie Sparks agrees.
“In the group work that I’ve done with sufferers of anxiety or depression, I’ve found it very beneficial because it calms the mind. It’s not a new thing,” she adds.
That’s an understatement: Mindfulness is a meditation technique that has been advocated by Buddhism for 2,500 years. Paul Christelis, the Light Centre’s course leader and a clinical psychologist, defines it as “paying attention to your experience, on purpose, in the present moment, without judgment or criticism.”