Have you ever heard of mindfulness?
Once upon a time, you probably would not have if you weren’t Buddhist.
Mindfulness is a form of meditation.
“Most of the time, we are lost in the past or carried away by the future. When we are mindful, deeply in touch with the present moment, our understanding of what is going on deepens, and we begin to be filled with acceptance, joy, peace, and love.”
Thich Nhat Hanh on The Long Road Turns To Joy
But much like yoga, an ancient Hindu practice, mindfulness has become popular without understanding its spiritual ties.
Benefits of Mindfulness
Why practice mindfulness?
What are the benefits of mindfulness?
You can actually find some studies that have found all kinds of benefits of mindfulness, from increased immune functioning to boosting your memory and attention span.
Now, I would view any of those benefits with a lot of skepticism, but the benefits that do seem plausible include decreasing stress and anxiety and improving your sleep, etc.
“Mindfulness meditation on breath, perhaps the most well-known type, involves sitting quietly, resting or closing your eyes and bringing your attention to your breath. When your attention drifts away, which it is likely to do, simply usher your attention back to your breath without judgment.”
AAP on Just Breathe: The Importance of Meditation Breaks for Kids
The American Academy of Pediatrics even suggests that mindfulness meditation can be helpful for children, although it is a clinical report from the Section on Integrative Medicine that is examining “best-available evidence.”
Does Mindfulness Work?
Many of us would like mindfulness to work.
Stress and anxiety are big problems today, both among kids and their parents. Their pediatricians too. So should we all start reading books on mindfulness?
Or go to a mindfulness group parenting class or start mindfulness-based cognitive therapy?
“Despite existing methodological limitations within each body of literature, there is a clear convergence of findings from correlational studies, clinical intervention studies, and laboratory-based, experimental studies of mindfulness—all of which suggest that mindfulness is positively associated with psychological health, and that training in mindfulness may bring about positive psychological effects.”
Keng et al on Effects of mindfulness on psychological health: A review of empirical studies
Considering that many reviews have been critical and the one with the most praise could only find a suggestion of positive associations, although I have always liked the idea of mindfulness, I am skeptical of its use as a medical treatment.
“I think the best current summary is to consider mindfulness like yoga, or a specific form of exercise. There is evidence that doing yoga has specific health benefits. However, those benefits are likely not specific to yoga and are universal to exercise. It is therefore more accurate to say that exercise has many health benefits, and yoga is a form of exercise.”
Steven Novella on Is Mindfulness Meditation Science-Based?
Can we just say that being mindful is a way to help you relax?
And being able to relax has some health benefits?
Give mindfulness a try if you want. Just don’t expect miracles and realize that with all of the distractions that you likely have in your life, being truly mindful is going to be much more difficult than you could ever imagine.
And while you can sell mindfulness, it is now a billion dollar industry, you can’t really buy it.
You can start with turning off the TV unless you are watching a specific program. And putting your phone down when the kids are around. Basically, get away from always trying to multitask and focus on who you are with or what you are doing at any one moment.
And learn about breathing…
What to Know About Mindfulness for Kids and Parents
There might not be much proof that it works, but mindfulness might be worth a try if you are just looking for a way to help you and your kids relax.
More About Mindfulness for Kids and Parents
- Walk With Me A Journey Into Mindfulness Featuring Thich Nhat Hanh
- Is Mindfulness Meditation Science-Based?
- Study – Mind the Hype: A Critical Evaluation and Prescriptive Agenda for Research on Mindfulness and Meditation
- Where’s the Proof That Mindfulness Meditation Works?
- What is mindfulness? Nobody really knows, and that’s a problem
- The Mindful Revolution
- The Hidden Price of Mindfulness Inc.
- Study – Meditation programs for psychological stress and well-being: a systematic review and meta-analysis.
- AAP – Just Breathe: The Importance of Meditation Breaks for Kids
- AAP – Mind-Body Therapies in Children and Youth
- What are the benefits of mindfulness?
- Benefits of Mindfulness
- Study – School-Based Mindfulness Instruction: An RCT
- Study – Effects of mindfulness on psychological health: A review of empirical studies
- Mindfulness Training for Teens Fails Important Test
- Is mindfulness making us ill?
- Mindful Parenting
- Mindfulness for mental wellbeing – Stress, anxiety and depression
- Mindfulness With Children And Teens
Last Updated on November 2, 2017 by Vincent Iannelli, MD
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