Start A Mindfulness Practice Today

4 Pillars Functional Medicine – Relaxation Pillar IconMindfulness meditation, is an ancient practice beginning over 2,500 years ago. It was expanded upon by the Buddha and this practice of self-awareness in Buddhism is known as insight meditation or vipassana. While mindfulness meditation has always been and remains a core component of Buddhism, it has also been part of the secular realm in the United States for over 30 years, and continues to grow. Formal meditation practice is immensely valuable and facilitates mindful awareness throughout the day; however, any time one spends immersed in and fully conscious of the moment is a mindfulness practice.

While mindfulness has its origins in the distant past, our need for it is more important in our current culture than any time previously. We are constantly bombarded by information, technology, personal interactions, work demands, and family. The pace of these is unlike any other time in our history. In my practice, I consistently see the effects of this environment and feel it regularly contributes to symptoms such as anxiety, stress, insomnia, digestive problems and chronic pain, as well as chronic issues such as heart problems and cancer. Of everything I have come across, I think mindfulness meditation provides one of the best paths towards counter-acting the negatives of our environment and culture, helping us to become simply happier and healthier.

There are many opportunities to learn about and incorporate mindfulness practice into your daily life. One of the most well-known is a structured group program, started in 1979 by Jon Kabat-Zinn, PhD, known as Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). Started by Zinn at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, MBSR has blossomed into worldwide program with over 1,000 certified instructors. Since it started at a medical school, there has been extensive patient research published on its benefits. The studies are not without flaws, but together with
the multiple anecdotal accolades (mine included), MBSR has become a cornerstone in American mindfulness practice and education. Television has also contributed to its success beginning in 1993 with a Bill Moyer PBS Special and more recently with a 60-Minutes story.

In addition to formal MBSR programs, there are many other options to learn mindfulness skills. These include private counseling, other group programs, community meditation groups, classical Buddhism education, and simply self-education through study and practice.

There is a wealth of information and resources available to assist you in bringing mindfulness into your life and below are some of those options. A formal MBSR course allows you to really dive in and experience what could be a life-changing tool.

For an easy first step, check out these free guided meditations provided by the UCLA Mindfulness Research Center. Start with the 5 minute “Breathing Meditation” and then move on to the “Complete Meditation Instructions.”

4 Pillars Functional Medicine – Mindfulness

Local and Online Mindfulness Options

Formal MBSR Courses

Community Mindfulness Meditation Options Open To The Public

Online Options

    • Free, self-guided classical MBSR program
    • Center for Mindfulness started by Jon Kabat-Zinn at the University of Massachusetts with online MBSR courses, professional education information, and links to research studies about mindfulness
    • Mindful Awareness Research Center at UCLA offering free guided meditation downloads, a free podcast of live guided meditation sessions and video links to lectures and mindfulness education

Reading Material

David Gordon

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