NHS now offering ancient Buddhist principles of ‘Mindfulness’. Guardian
Meditation technique gains experts’ approval
NHS departments are now offering the Buddhism-inspired method of
‘mindfulness meditation’ which is favoured by celebrities such as Goldie Hawn
Goldie Hawn acts as an advocate for mindfulness meditation.
A form of meditation practised by some of Hollywood’s biggest stars is becoming a major growth area within British psychology, as evidence grows of its effectiveness in dealing with anxiety and depression.
“Mindfulness meditation” was pioneered in the United States during the 1970s as a tool for alleviating stress and is practised, among others, by Meg Ryan and Goldie Hawn, who acts as an advocate for the technique. Drawing on ancient Buddhist principles to combat mental suffering, the technique encourages practitioners to slow down, “inhabit the moment” and become more accepting of their feelings. According to Ryan, “by simply refocusing our awareness, we reshape our experience”.
A study by researchers in Wales, Toronto and Cambridge found that in cases of recurring depression it reduced the risk of relapse by 50%. As a result, the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (Nice) adopted it in its guidelines as a recommended intervention in cases of chronic depression. Recent studies have shown that the technique can have other significant benefits, including boosting the immune system and encouraging left-field brain activity – the side most associated with feelings of wellbeing.
The impressive experimental results have led to a surge in interest and increasing demand that the practice be made more widely available. Research centres have sprung up across the country and there has been an explosion of mindfulness courses in non-clinical settings.
Some psychologists are cautious about overselling the benefits or applying mindfulness too zealously outside a clinical setting. Florian Ruths, who runs a mindfulness meditation programme at the Maudsley Hospital in south London, argues that the technique’s very success in becoming part of the psychological mainstream could lead people to view it as a quick-fix solution.
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If you are under care of the Wirral Community Mental Health Team do ask your support worker or psychiatrist if they can refer you to a Mindfulness course.