An explosion of research over the past two decades indicates that mindfulness meditation can physically change the brain and body in astonishing ways. Studies suggest it can make you happier, less stressed, even kinder to others. It can help you change your eating habits, and can reduce chronic pain, inflammation, and symptoms of stress-related diseases without taking medications. It has been used to treat addictions, to boost creativity, and to improve focus. Even leaders, corporations, and schools are seeking its benefits.
What is mindfulness?
Mindful awareness can be defined as paying attention to present moment experiences with openness, curiosity, and a willingness to be with what is. It is an excellent antidote to the stresses of modern times. It invites us to stop, breathe, observe, and connect with one’s inner experience. It can be done in a sitting practice, as well as incorporated into everyday activities.
In the late 1970’s, John Kabat-Zinn first introduced mindfulness meditation into mainstream medicine with his books and Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction classes. Today these are common in hospitals and clinics all over the country.
Dr. Dan Siegel, clinical professor of psychiatry at the UCLA School of Medicine and Co-Director of the Mindful Awareness Research Center, has over the past 30 years, brought together cutting-edge brain and mindfulness research. Findings show that changes in the brain can be observed after just eight weeks of daily mindfulness practice—changes that produce a healthier mind through brain integration, increase empathy and compassion, promote self-awareness, and result in a greater sense of well-being.
Physicians have increasingly been prescribing mindfulness meditation, instead of prescriptions, to benefit their patients. A Harvard Medical School report found that more than six million Americans had been recommended meditation and other mind-body therapies by conventional health care providers! Some scientists believe that meditation will be seen as being as essential to maintaining a healthy lifestyle as a good diet, regular exercise, and aware touch.
Massage also invites us to stop, breathe, and connect with our inner experience. It promotes mindfulness of the body, which is the heart of mindfulness practice. Mindful breathing during a massage session increases the many benefits of professional touch. Regular bodywork at Massage Therapy Center Palo Alto, in combination with a daily mindfulness practice, is a powerful regimen to support your health and well-being!