Have you ever found yourself doing some routine task and not remembering doing it for the past several seconds or minutes? Perhaps it happened to you when you were listening to music, or eating your lunch or maybe even driving your car to work. It can sometimes be a little startling to snap into awareness of the moment and find that you’ve been doing some task with no recent memory of actually doing it. If you think about it, during these moments you are either in the “past” or in the “future”. You most certainly are not “in the moment”.
For this moment, lets forget about the past and resist projecting into the future. Let’s pay attention to this moment. After all, this moment is the only thing you have. All of your consciousness is placed only in this present point of time and space. Now, you could use your power of consciousness in this moment to reflect on a memory of the past, or even fantasize about a future possibility, but you are actually doing it in this moment. Your point of power, your ability to choose and act only exists in this moment right now.
The current trend is to call this intention of living in the moment “conscious living” or “mindfulness”. While it might be tempting to dismiss these terms as the latest iteration of the new age woo woo culture, there really is some validity to it and we are getting some hard data to support it.
First, lets review my definition of stress, since as I see it, one of the primary goals of being mindful would be to reduce the stress in your life. As I’ve written many times before, stress is the reaction of your body to a perceived threat or expected outcome. Notice that the operative words in that definition (the ones I’ve italicized) are all based in the moment. In other words change your perception or your expectations and your relationship to the stressor changes. Your choice to change this only exists in the present moment.
This is not new. Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn developed the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program at the University of Massachusetts back in 1979 and since then has created the Center for Mindfulness which has conducted research into the efficacy of MBSR in its impact on pain reduction, feelings of self-esteem and improved healing.
In a new study, researchers at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Canada found that mindfulness techniques can be a successful substitute for anti-depression medications. In the study, published in this month’s issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry, researchers took 84 people between the ages of 18 and 65 who had been treating their depression with medication over the previous 8 months and were in remission. The group was divided into three sub-groups: one that continued on their medication; one that received mindfulness based cognitive therapy; and a third group that had their medication slowly replaced by a placebo.
After 18 months, only 38% of the patients in the mindfulness group relapsed into depression, while 46% of the patients who continued on their medication relapsed. This is in contrast to a full 60% relapse rate for patients who received just a placebo.
Researchers admit that the difference between the mindfulness group and the medicated group may be statistically insignificant, but the results conclude that mindfulness based therapy is certainly as effective as medication in treating depression. Additionally, the cost of mindfulness therapy is much less than medication. While the initial mindfulness training sessions have a cost, the on-going practice is totally free, making it an excellent long-term solution for treating depression.
Nicolette Sachs, MSW, LCSW
At Mountain Waves Healing Arts, we are pleased to offer solutions in awareness and mindfulness through several of our counseling and energy bodywork services. We even offer the actual Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction course through Nicolette Sachs, MSW, LCSW, one of our resident counselors.
So take a deep breath, bring your full awareness of your being into this moment and make a conscious choice about how you want to step into the next moment. By paying attention to this moment, you can improve the moment you are about to experience, and so on and so on.
Mindfulness Therapy Works for Depression
Meditate on This
Mindful Living Programs
Center for Mindfulness at University of Massachusetts