Learning the mindfulness technique facilitates learning to be more self-aware. It’s a crucial first step to starting to use other behavior change skills.
Mindfulness Meditation is NOT the same as a ‘relaxation skill’ – which quiets down your central nervous system … to relax when you’re too jazzed up with anxiety or too charged up to fall asleep.
Below are 5 brief videos for mindfulness (and 1 for relaxation):
(1) Animation explains (simply) what mindfulness meditation is
(2) Animation shows how mindfulness meditation works
(3) Jon Kabat Zinn demonstrates ‘mindful’ practice;
(4) Brian Schwartz explains its value for getting out of obsessive loops
(5) Judson Brewer explains its value for stress management and breaking a self-defeating habit.
(6) David Carbonell demonstrates the best relaxation skill – slow belly breathing
(1) What is/Why to use mindfulness
(2) How it works
(3) Jon Kabat-Zinn demonstrates it
Learning to be ‘mindful’ is the first step in managing your moods. Below is a quick sampler of Dr. Kabat-Zinn’s instruction. He founded the scientifically-validated Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) class at UMass. Their first study showed that a brief mindfulness practice boosted the immune system of patients — reducing the physical symptoms of psoriasis.
The full MBSR course is given at many universities. Locally, I recommend the one at George Washington University (taught by Grace Ogden). Another option is to take the ONLINE Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction course (produced by JKZ’s Center) – from the convenience of your own home and at your schedule! To date, more than 20,000 patients have completed the MBSR program at UMass. Worldwide, there are more than 740 MBSR programs in hospitals, clinics, and at free-standing programs serving the needs of tens of thousands of people on six continents.
Another option is to try out Headspace, a computer-based (or an app for the phone) program that walks you through mindfulness – easily/briefly. It’s free. Many people find it a helpful way to get started, especially to see what it’s like before trying out the MBSR course.
(4) Jeffrey Schwartz, MD – You Are Not Your Brain
One of the most important things we learn from mindfulness practice is … You are not your thoughts (you notice that you are having a thought), you are not your feelings (you notice that you are having a feeling), and ultimately, you are not whatever your brain automatically throws at you.
We can choose to focus on what is most important to us. We use our ‘wise mind’ to choose. It’s essential to realize the difference between your autopilot brain and your wise mind.
(5) Breaking an old habit
Can we break bad habits by being more curious about them? Psychiatrist Judson Brewer studies the relationship between mindfulness and addiction — from smoking to overeating to all those other things we do even though we know they’re bad for us. Learn more about the mechanism of habit development and discover a simple but profound tactic that might help you beat your next urge to smoke, snack or check a text while driving.
It’s never too late to start! It’s proven … Just 8 minutes of daily practice will change your brain, for good.
(6) Breathe: The simplest relaxation skill
David Carbonell demonstrates slow deep breathing. You will want to use this behavioral tool to help yourself to relax your central nervous system – to reduce anxiety – or to simply wind down from the day (before sleep) when you’re jazzed up.
More about Mindfulness
Dan Harris (not an animation) debunks 3 misconceptions about mindfulness meditation …
Dan Harris cites studies showing mindfulness can grow gray matter in your brain to change the “Default Mode” and to help you be happier …