Mindfulness: Practical Applications
Mini-Medical School #2, April 8, 2017
Stephanie Taylor MD, PhD
Between stimulus and response there is a space.
In that space is our power to choose our response.
In our response lies our growth and our freedom.
Viktor E. Frankl
Mindfulness is attending to the present. There is nothing foreign, difficult or exotic about mindfulness. Mindfulness as applied to stress reduction is the most widely known practice, and was developed in the 1970s by Jon Kabat-Zinn at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center. It is, at its heart, a meditation practice that can be learned and used by anyone. It was initially applied in medical settings with excellent results on depression, anxiety and fear of disease recurrence.
Mindfulness means attending to your current internal and external perceptions. This is greatly facilitated by attending to breathing. Here is a three minute body scan meditation:
Begin by bringing your attention into your body. You can close your eyes if that’s comfortable for you. You can notice your body seated wherever you’re seated, feeling the weight of your body on the chair, on the floor. Take a few deep breaths. And as you take a deep breath, bring in more oxygen enlivening the body. And as you exhale, have a sense of relaxing more deeply. You can notice your feet on the floor, notice the sensations of your feet touching the floor. The weight and pressure, vibration, heat. You can notice your legs against the chair, pressure, pulsing, heaviness, lightness. Notice your back against the chair. Bring your attention into your stomach area. If your stomach is tense or tight, let it soften. Take a breath. Notice your hands. Are your hands tense or tight? See if you can allow them to soften. Notice your arms. Feel any sensation in your arms. Let your shoulders be soft. Notice your neck and throat. Let them be soft. Relax. Soften your jaw. Let your face and facial muscles be soft. Then notice your whole body present. Take one more breath. Be aware of your whole body as best you can. Take a breath. And then when you’re ready, you can open your eyes.
Mindfulness based exercises are currently applied in a wide variety of settings.
We will review several and give practical tips for application.
Schools and Education
Relationships and Parenting
Everyday Blessings: The inner work of mindful parenting by Jon Kabat-Zinn
Veterans, First Responders, Police Officers
In 2010 alone, 8,030 veterans died by suicide. This represents more loss of life than the total number of deaths in the Iraq and Afghanistan conflict since 2003.
The Mindful Athlete: Secrets to Pure Performance by George Mumford, who was the mindfulness coach for the Chicago Bulls Basketball team.
Here are his three principle points in quotes taken from Mindful Feb 2016, pg. 47-54 written by Hugh Delehanty, www.mindful.org:
“Be still and know”: Mumford learned the power of stillness from Tai Chi practice. “When the mind is still you have an inner knowing when and how to strike.” This has also been describes as being in the flow.
Forget Yourself, Find Yourself: “not how you are doing but what are you doing.”
Mindfulness and more: “Steadiness of mind, right effort and wisdom.”
Specific examples from Tai Chi Chuan Practice.
Exercise in focused attention. Tai Chi walking for fall prevention.
Tools: Useful cell phone apps: Headspace, and