What is Mindfulness?

What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is the practice of paying attention to your current experience on a moment to moment basis.

Mindfulness interventions include any practices that help to train this ability to tune in to your body and mind in each current moment, without grasping at the future or past. Common mindfulness practices include: mindfulness meditation, Tai Chi, Yoga, and any practice that is completed while being ‘in the moment’ such as mindful walking or even washing dishes!

What is the benefit of Mindfulness practices?

Benefits of mindfulness meditation interventions for improving anxiety and depression symptoms have been found across a wide range of populations with differing age, psychological and medical conditions (Hofmann et al., 2010). With 8-week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Classes (MBSR) being a common mode of learning a variety of meditation practices.

Short term mindfulness meditation benefits (within 8-weeks) include:

  1. Increased mindfulness and wellbeing with decreased stress levels (Carmody & Baer, 2008)
  2. Beneficial changes in brain matter linked to emotional regulation (Holzel et al., 2011)
  3. Increased pain tolerance in migraneurs and people with chronic pain (Zeidan & Vago, 2016)
  4. Attenuated cortisol responses to stress (Carlson et al., 2004; Palta et al., 2012)
  5. Positive immunological changes with reduced inflammatory gene expression (Creswell et al., 2009; Rosenkranz et al., 2013; Witek-Janusek et al., 2008)

What is the benefit of Mindfulness practices for people with MS?

Mindfulness meditation training in people with MS has resulted in improved quality of life, increased self-efficacy, compassion, pain tolerance and acceptance, as well as reduced distress, fatigue, and depressive symptoms (Levin et al., 2014; Bogosian et al., 2015; Tavee et al., 2011; Grossman et al., 2010).

In the UMass MS Mindfulness Study we are interested to see if Mindfulness Meditation practices may improve physical balance, besides improvements in psychological wellbeing.