View Full Version : Mindfulness ARTICLE (Toronto Star newspaper)


QueensU_girl
05-25-07, 09:25 PM
http://www.thestar.com/Health/article/217469

Mind where you go


http://www.thestar.com/App_Themes/TheStar/images/icons/iconEmailArticle.gif document.write('Email story ("]Email story[/url]'); http://www.thestar.com/App_Themes/TheStar/images/icons/iconPrint.gif[/img]Print (http://www.thestar.com/printArticle/217469)
http://www.thestar.com/App_Themes/TheStar/images/icons/iconStext.gif (http://www.thestar.com/Health/article/217469#) http://www.thestar.com/App_Themes/TheStar/images/icons/iconMtext.gif (http://www.thestar.com/Health/article/217469#) http://www.thestar.com/App_Themes/TheStar/images/icons/iconLtext.gif (http://www.thestar.com/Health/article/217469#)Choose text size (http://www.thestar.com/Health/article/217469#)
http://www.thestar.com/App_Themes/TheStar/images/icons/iconReportTypo.gif document.write('Report typo or correction ("]Report typo or correction'); [url="javascript:openWin()
http://www.thestar.com/App_Themes/TheStar/images/icons/iconEmailAuthor.gif Email the author (mhenry@thestar.ca)

http://www.thestar.com/App_Themes/TheStar/images/icons/iCopyright_icon.gif License this article (http://license.icopyright.net/3.7212?icx_id=217469)


http://www.thestar.com/App_Themes/TheStar/images/icons/iconTag.gif Tag and save (http://del.icio.us/post)
http://www.thestar.com/App_Themes/TheStar/images/icons/logoPoweredDelicious.gif (http://www.thestar.com/Health/article/217469#)







Focusing while meditating can reduce stress and suffering

May 25, 2007 04:30 AM
Michele Henry (http://www.thestar.com/opinion/columnists/200815)
Staff Reporter

How do you bottle smoke?

A couple of researchers at the University of Toronto have put "mindfulness" under the microscope and devised a scale to measure the ethereal.

Tony Toneatto and Linda Nguyen, both Buddhists, have long been fans of the ancient practice in which meditators switch off their minds and observe, without emotion, their thoughts floating by like a movie. But, they've always wondered what people actually do when they're being mindful.

"Are they fantasizing, planning dinner, thinking about exams?" Toneatto asks. "Mindfulness is bringing the mind back to what's happening and leaving it there. But when people do that, you don't know what they're really doing."

Toneatto, a psychology professor, and Nguyen, a nursing student, decided to find out.

While mindfulness is fast becoming a hot scientific topic, research is focused on its therapeutic uses for reducing stress in patients suffering from debilitating illnesses, such as cancer. Aside from looking at MRIs to determine what happens in the brain metabolically while people say they're meditating, investigators haven't yet climbed inside subjects' heads.

Toneatto says it's imperative to find out what goes on behaviourally, so instructors can teach meditators how to get the most from their practice.

"It's important to measure this to make sure patients are getting the most effective feedback and benefits from being mindful," Toneatto says. "We can't do that if we don't know what they're doing."

Called the Daily Mindfulness Diary, the scale asks meditators to rate their meditating behaviour as soon as they open their eyes and stop practising. Using numbers from zero to five, participants fill out eight measures, including how tranquil or distracted they feel during meditation, whether they are "accepting" and non-judgmental of their thoughts, and how well they stay "present-focused."

Toneatto and Nguyen discovered their mutual curiosity about mindfulness during Toneatto's course in Buddhism and psychology and asked 17 fellow students to participate in the pilot study. Each student was asked to fill out the mindfulness diary after meditating every day for 20 minutes over an eight-week period. The results were shocking.

"Nobody really did anything the same way," Toneatto says. "It's tremendously variable."

But, the people who reported being more present-focused and tranquil during meditation said they felt less stressed, depressed and anxious at the end of the study.

As time went on, each respondent reported that they felt better.

This means that in clinical practice, a daily diary might help meditation instructors advise patients about how to be more mindful, for example, less distractible, or less focused on mental noise. University of Toronto professor Zindel Segal, one of the first to conduct mindfulness research 15 years ago, says such a scale might help make meditation a more accepted part of the medical healing process.

Mindfulness meditation is offered in some local hospitals to patients who want to learn skills, but it's not a mainstream therapy.

Studies like this are great, Segal says, because they provide hard evidence that meditation works to relieve symptoms.

"Acceptance doesn't come from smooth-talking people. It comes from hard evidence."

Segal is also director of the Cognitive Behaviour Therapy Unit at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.

One day, Nguyen hopes, data from their study and a second broader one in the fall will lead to incorporating mindfulness into nursing.

Suffering and pain, she says, are the results of attaching feelings to thoughts that pass by, rejecting them or accepting them, instead of letting them move on through the mind.

Meditation helps reduce the suffering caused by an illness, including side effects such as depression and stress.

"Not everything can be cured by medicine."