Your Good Health The quiet mind More people turn to mindfulness meditation to deal with stresses of life
By Jennie Geisler
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ry something for a second. Look at the photo. Hold your paper or your device. Take a breath that moves your belly button. Release it and enjoy that and only that, just for a moment. You’re done. This story could end here. If it were only that easy. But, instead, as soon as you read “You’re done,” the rest of the day came crashing in: You couldn’t do it and got frustrated, you have a billion things to do, you hear voices, you have to make plans, to-do lists, note the time, tend the coffee maker. It might be a busy day. But if you’re still with me, perhaps you know there’s a lot of talk in our culture these days about a concept called “mindfulness.” No less than The New York Times, Time Magazine and Oprah have devoted barrels of ink and forests of trees to the value of appreciating the present moment. Sounds easy. And it is, in some ways, exceedingly simple, to say nothing of inexpensive. Yet entire publications, websites, books and classes are devoted to helping us practice the art of letting go. Professional therapists use mindfulness in their practices, schools are experimenting with using mindfulness with unruly children, artists are incorporating what they see when they are in a mindful
state and corporations are teaching their employees mindful practices to reduce stress and improve well-being. Scott Boyd, 46, a licensed professional counselor in Erie, Pa., uses mindfulness in his practice, The Counselors Inn. “It means I’m centered on my client, not only on them, but what’s in them,” he said. “I’m looking to see what they are in the present, not their life before, but looking to become aware of their irrational thoughts and how it relates back to what they do.” He said it’s not about labeling a disorder and applying a treatment or technique, but mindfully watching for the hiccups in their thought process — without judgment. “It allows for me to help in a therapeutic way to bring them into congruence with themselves,” Boyd said. “It requires empathy. Being able to put yourself in their situation in an unconditional, positive regard. It’s necessary to help someone grow.” That “mindful watching,” he said, has grown out of Americans’ exposure to Asian beliefs and traditions and is being used in stress reduction for people with cancer, in pain control, even in military training. “It’s about being, not doing,” Boyd said. Follow Jennie Geisler on Twitter attwitter.com/ETNgeisler.
Jim Hamilton, 68, of Erie, Pa., leads a prayer and meditation meeting at the Tibetan Buddhist Meditation Center in Erie. [JACK HANRAHAN/ERIE TIMES-NEWS]
Mindfulness apps Stop, Breathe & Think: Aimed at users of all ages, this app acts as a personal meditation coach to guide you through tough times with 5- to 10-minute meditations. It first asks you how you are feeling (mentally, physically and emotionally) and then picks a meditation for your state of mind. Cost: Free on iOS, Android and has a web browser version Find it: app.stopbreathethink. org/ Buddhify: Mindfulness has been a buzzword in the mental health community for good reason. The practice of mindful meditation can help with a variety of mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, by having the user observe their thoughts and feelings from a distance, without judging them good or bad. This app teaches that practice through more than 80 guided meditations. Cost: $4.99 on iOS, $2.99 on Android Find it: buddhify.com Pause: Also built on the concept of mindfulness but with a little Tai-Chi thrown in this app helps you unwind by gently pressing swirling colors across your screen while listening to ambient sounds. Cost: $1.99 Find it: pauseable.com