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The Effects of Mindfulness on Stress-Related Physiology, Hormones and Subjective Reports in Women (pp. 107-122) $100.00
Authors:  (Haley A. Carroll, Charlotte Heleniak, Helen Valenstein, Sarah Ballard and M. Kathleen B. Lustyk, Department of Clinical Psychology, University of Washington, Washington, USA, and others)
Abstract:
Mindfulness stems from Eastern spiritual practices, specifically early
Hindu and Buddhist traditions. However, mindfulness as utilized in Western
psychological treatments is not a religious or spiritual practice. Rather,
mindfulness can be conceptualized as an experiential exercise that emphasizes
awareness of the present moment.
In the last thirty years, the development and evaluation of mindfulness
interventions has flourished (Melbourne Academic Mindfulness Interest
Group, 2006). Mindfulness plays a major role in several ―third wave‖
cognitive behavioral therapies including Dialectical Behavior Therapy
(Linehan, 1993) developed for highly suicidal, emotionally dysregulated
individuals, Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy developed for individuals
with recurrent depression (Segal, Williams, & Teasdale, 1991), and
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (Hayes, Strosahl, & Wilson, 1999),
which has been used to treat a range of mental illness including psychosis and
depression. Additionally, mindfulness practices have expanded from the
traditional sitting practice ―on the cushion‖ to ―in the moment‖ exercises often
called informal practice. For example, being present in common, everyday
activities like brushing one‘s teeth or washing the dishes are informal practices
(Hanh, 1991). As such, mindfulness practices are adaptive, providing the
potential to enhance the lives of clinical and nonclinical populations alike.
The dramatic increase of interest in mindfulness and influx of mindfulness
interventions has been accompanied by some confusion with the meaning of
the term mindfulness itself. How do we define mindfulness? The definition we
will use in this chapter refers to mindfulness as ―paying attention in a
particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally‖
(Kabat-Zinn, 1994). Importantly, this definition defines mindfulness as an
active practice rather than a passive attribute; it is something you do,
something you experience, not simply something you are.
This definition stems from mindfulness as practiced in Mindfulness Based
Stress Reduction (MBSR), an eight week group treatment developed by Jon
Kabat-Zinn to reduce stress in individuals with chronic pain who had not
responded to traditional medical care (Kabat-Zinn, 1982). In MBSR,
individuals develop the ability to attend to mental sensations (e.g., thoughts)
and physical sensations (e.g., pain) in a curious, nonjudgmental fashion as they
are experienced by the practitioner. By paying steady attention to the ebb and
flow of these mental and physical events without assigning cognitive
judgments to them, a certain level of detachment and perspective is created.
The objective of the practice is to gradually train individuals to separate the
physical sensation of pain from the cognitive associations or interpretations
(for example, the thought that the pain is unbearable and will never end) that
often accompanies the physical sensation and, in doing so, reducing the
cognitive and emotional elements of the painful experience (Kabat-Zinn,
1982).
Participants in MBSR learn different practices to cultivate mindfulness,
for example learning to do a ―body scan‖ in which one pays attention to the
entire body, one body part at a time. Other practices include, yoga and breath
awareness. Regardless of the type of practice, the practitioner remains aware,
in the present moment. The aim of these practices is to employ mindfulness
during stressful situations in their day-to-day life. Group members make the
commitment to engage in 45-minute daily homework assignments throughout
treatment, as practice in daily life is considered essential to developing
mindfulness skills. MBSR has been incorporated into the treatment for a
varied array of physical and mental health problems including cancer, heart
disease, depression, and anxiety (Grossman, Niemann, Schmidt, & Walach,
2004). 


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The Effects of Mindfulness on Stress-Related Physiology, Hormones and Subjective Reports in Women (pp. 107-122)