Mindfulness for Well-Being
For individuals in the U.S. & U.S. territories
For most people, even the ordinary demands of life can cause some feelings of unease and stress, and these stressful thoughts and feelings may result in chronic mental and physical fatigue or anxiety.
The seemingly simple act of mindfulness may help reduce the impact of stress, anxiety, depression, and chronic pain. Mindfulness is the act of paying attention to moments of experience with an accepting and friendly attitude so as to observe with all the senses what is happening in each moment. The practice of mindfulness is an effective means of enhancing and maintaining optimal mental health and overall well-being, and can be implemented in every aspect of daily living. Mindfulness has been applied to a variety of mental and physical disorders and has also been useful within educational, military, and corporate settings.
In this video, Dr. Rezvan Ameli demonstrates three mindfulness exercises within a group therapy setting and also discusses the science and practice of mindfulness.
Mindfulness practices are simple and effective means for maintaining and enhancing physical and mental health and general well-being. It also tends to put the adult practitioners on a trajectory that leads to enhanced spiritual interest and awareness. It crosses age, illness, discipline, and contexts and has become relevant to almost everyone. Mindfulness is becoming increasingly popular in the armed forces, education, healthcare, business, management, and leadership.
The simplest way to define mindfulness is to say mindfulness is awareness. It is to be conscious. It is to pay attention to immediate, present moment experiences with an accepting and friendly attitude. To notice, to allow, and to observe what is happening in each moment with curiosity and openness whether the experience is pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral. It is to be in touch with felt experiences. It is to breathe in and to know you are breathing in and to breathe out and know that you are breathing out.
The idea is that attention to and acceptance of everyday experiences helps to increase the awareness of the present moment. This is not to judge or evaluate these experiences, rather simply to notice them. By doing so, there is less dwelling in the past or the future. Expectations, emotions, and thoughts are considered as impermanent mental activities that are viewed and witnessed but not and reacted to. With practice, rather than focusing on how things should be, we accept and allow what is. As such, we greatly diminish stress, unhappiness, emotional reactivity, and suffering.
Several thousands of years of experience and knowledge in the East, and recent scientific advances in the West confirm the health benefits of mindfulness and related practices. Many health related studies focus on medical and psychiatric conditions. There are studies that are exploring the impact of mindfulness on specific cardiovascular, respiratory, immune, and nervous system disorders. Others are investigating the impact of mindfulness on addictions, drug and alcohol related problems, pain management, eating disorders and problems related to weight control, mood disorders and depression, various forms of anxiety disorders, suicidal behavior, and even psychosis. There are studies that are investigating the use of mindfulness across life span (i.e. in children, adolescents, adults, and the elderly) and even its impact on longevity and cellular structure.
The field is growing and lends support to the positive impact of mindfulness when practiced regularly and incorporated in to our day-to-day lives.
Rezvan Ameli, PhD, is a senior clinical psychologist at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), where she teaches, collaborates in research, and provides clinical services. She is trained in cognitive behavioral therapy through the Beck Institute for Cognitive Therapy and is a certified member of the Academy of Cognitive Therapy. Prior to the National Institute of Health (NIH), she provided clinical services and held faculty positions at Yale University and University of Connecticut. She has published more than 30 research articles.
Dr. Ameli has been studying mindfulness for well over a decade. She teaches mindfulness at the NIH through the Foundation for Advancement of Education in Sciences, the Health and Human Services graduate school, and the employee Recreation and Welfare association where she provides her teachings to the NIH community and the public.
She received the NIMH Directors Award in 2009 in recognition of her work to reduce stress and enhance quality of life and productivity for the NIMH employees through mindfulness. Her book on the subject, 25 lessons in Mindfulness: Now Time for Healthy Living, published in 2013 by APA, has been extremely well received and was awarded the Benjamin Franklin silver recognition in 2014 by the Independent Book Publishers Association.
- Ameli, Rezvan. (2013). 25 Lessons in Mindfulness: Now Time for Healthy Living. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association Press.
- Benson, Herbert. (1975). The Relaxation Response. New York, NY: Harper Collins.
- Brach, Tara. (2004). The Power of Radical Acceptance: Healing Trauma though the Integration of Buddhist Meditation and Psychotherapy. New York, NY: Bantam-Dell.
- Chodron, Pema. (2001). Start Where You Are: A Guide to Compassionate Living. Boston, MA: Shambhala Publications.
- Davidson, Richard. (2012). The Emotional Life of Your Brain: How Its Unique Patterns Affect the Way You Think, Feel, and Live — and How You Can Change Them. New York, NY: Penguin.
- Emmons, Robert. (2008). Thanks!: How Practicing Gratitude Can Make You Happier. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
- Enright, Robert. (2001) Forgiveness Is a Choice: A Step-by-step Process for Resolving Anger and Restoring Hope. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association Press.
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