Mindfullness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) is one of several meditative echniques derived from Eastern philosphy and religion which is increasingly catching on as an alternative to medication use for anxiety and depression. MBSR incorporates techniques including meditation and being in the moment. A meta-analysis (where data from all studies are put together) of mindfulness meditation found that
MBSR was a useful adjunctive intervention for patients with a broad range of chronic
disorders, including patients with cancer, chronic pain, fibromyalgia, and psoriasis (Grossman et al 2004).
Mindfulness may be defined as intentionally paying attention to present-moment experience (physical sensations, perceptions, affective states, thoughts and imagery) in a non-judgmental way and thereby cultivating a stable and non-reactive awareness. It is a state of sustained attention to these ongoing mental contents and processes without thinking about, comparing, or in other ways evaluating them. In mindfulness meditation attention is brought to notice whatever thoughts, feelings, and sensations are appearing in awareness, while at the same time remaining aware of the capacity to maintain the focus of attention on these contents, or to deliberately redirect attention to a wider field of awareness or to a different object. Bringing these mental processes under greater voluntary control and directing them in beneficial ways fosters psychological and physical well being, giving one a greater sense of control, and thoughts and feelings no longer threaten to overwhelm him/her. A person's increasing tolerance for his/her experiences may in turn lead to reductions in emotional reactivity elicited by the symptoms, enabling the person to respond and behave more effectively. Further, participation in MBSR has been shown to increase participants' overall sense of control through a positive accepting mode of control, which is associated with greater emotional well being.
MBSR has been shown to be effective in reducing anxiety and panic in patients
diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder and panic disorder (maintained at
three-year follow-up) as well as anxiety in patients with heart disease. MBSR has also been shown to be effective as an adjunctive intervention in reducing psychological distress and depression, as well as health-related quality of life. Reported favorable changes in distress (SCL-90-R) have been found to endure at three-month follow-up, six-month follow-up, and four-year follow-up (Miller et al 1995; Tacon et al 2003).
The bottom line is that MBSR and other meditative are helpful and demonstrate how changing the mind can influence the body. And best of all there are no side effects!
Grossman P, Niemann L, Schmidt S, Walach H. Mindfulness-based stress reduction and
health benefits: A meta-analysis. Journal of Psychosomatic Research. 2004;57:35-43.
Miller J, Fletcher K, Kabat-Zinn J. Three-year follow-up and clinical implications
of a mindfulness-based stress reduction intervention in the treatment of anxiety
disorders. General Hospital Psychiatry. 1995;17:192-200.
Tacon AM, McComb K, Caldera Y, Randolph P. Mindfulness meditation, anxiety reduction,
and heart disease: a pilot study. Family & Community Health. 2003;26:25-33.