Written by Alicia Cassels, MA, MFLN Military Caregiving Team Member
Is It Just Another Trend?
You may have heard that companies like Nike, Bank of America, Google and Twitter have incorporated mindfulness into their corporate cultures and that high-profile celebrities use mindfulness meditation. With so much popular focus on the practice, it would be easy to discount mindfulness meditation as just another passing, popular culture trend.
Less widely known, however, is the fact that mindfulness meditation is being studied at some of the best medical and educational institutions in the world. Using brain imaging technology and a new understanding of neuroplasticity (the ability of the brain to develop across the life cycle), researchers have begun to measure changes occurring in the brains of mindfulness meditators. Their studies indicate that mindfulness meditation is effective in improving memory, mental focus and the ability for individuals to respond thoughtfully in stressful situations.
Another Tool for Caregivers
Dedicating daily time for self-care can present a challenge for busy caregivers who may find their time and energy stretched to the limit. Surprisingly, mindfulness meditation can be practiced in as little as ten minutes a day.
- A University of Pittsburgh study found that mindfulness meditation opens pathways for key regions of the brain to communicate with each other, enabling individuals to respond more thoughtfully in situations of stress. A 2016 University of Pittsburgh study which was published in the Journal of Adolescence found a correlation between mindfulness meditation and self-compassion in adolescents.
- In 2011 researchers at Harvard studied individuals participating in eight weeks of mindfulness meditation practice and found that, “mindfulness meditators more quickly adjusted the brain wave that screens out distraction [which] could explain their superior ability to rapidly remember and incorporate new facts.”
Click the link below to try a five-minute meditation from the UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center. This meditation, which focuses on the breath is an excellent piece for beginners.
Interested in Starting Your Own Practice?
Check out my Secrets of Self-Care Video Series to learn some of my tips for getting started.
Join the conversation! Share your experiences, questions and comments regarding mindfulness meditation below.
- Caregiving in the U.S.: 2015 Report. United States: NAC National Alliance for Caregiving, 2015. Web. 25 Jan. 2017.
- Walsh, Colleen. Et.al. “‘Turn down the Volume’.”Harvard Gazette. Harvard University, 22 Apr. 2011. Web. 28 Feb. 2017.
- “Frequently Asked Questions.” UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center. UCLA Health, n.d. Web. 20 Feb. 2017
- Galla, B. M. (2016). Within-person changes in mindfulness and self-compassion predict enhanced emotional well-being in healthy, but stressed adolescents. Journal of Adolescence, 49, 204–217.
- Hidden Heroes: America’s Military Caregivers. Rep. Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation, 2014. Web. 25 Jan. 2017.
- Hougaard, Rasmus, Jacqueline Carter, and Gitte Dybkjaer. “Spending 10 Minutes a Day on Mindfulness Subtly Changes the Way You React to Everything.” Harvard Business Review. Harvard Business Publishing, 18 Jan. 2017. Web. 20 Feb. 2017.
- Ireland, Tom. “What Does Mindfulness Meditation Do to Your Brain?” Scientific American Blog Network. Springer Nature, 12 June 2014. Web. 20 Feb. 2017.
- U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Caregiver Self-Care Workbook. National Caregiver Training Program Manual. Web. 1 March, 2017.
This MFLN-Military Caregiving concentration blog post was published on June 30, 2017.