Life is full of stressful events such as difficult relationships, demanding work, health problems, money issues, too much to do in too little time. When the level of stress exceeds your ability to cope, you may suffer from physical and emotional symptoms such as
- Headaches and backaches
- Frequent illnesses or accidents
- High blood pressure
- Fatigue and sleep problems
- Depression, anxiety, and panic
- Irritability and mood swings
- Chronic pain
- Heart disease
Stress is responsible for lost work days, reduces your ability to perform effectively, and erodes both personal and professional relationships.'
Mindfulness is a way of learning to relate directly to whatever is happening in your life, a way of being responsible for your life, a way of doing something for yourself that no one else can do for you: consciously and systematically working with your own stress, pain, illness, or the challenges and demands of everyday life. You will learn how to slow down, to recognize the warning signs of stress reactions, and to stay focused and relaxed in ways that enhance the body’s natural adaptive and healing abilities and the mind’s ability to choose healthy responses. Mindfulness helps to calm people who are receiving medical care and is an essential foundation for other stress reduction techniques. Some of the benefits of learning mindfulness are:
- More ease and equilibrium in every aspect of life
- Increased clarity, choice, and balance
- Deeper understanding of emotions and thoughts and how they interact
- More refined sensory awareness
- Less suffering from physical and mental difficulties
- More calm and contentment
- Heightened appreciation of life
Research on mindfulness at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center and at the Harvard Medical School shows that the majority of people who attend an eight-week mindfulness-based stress reduction course reported lasting improvement in both physical and psychological symptoms from conditions such as heart disease, migraine headaches, some auto-immune diseases, obsessive thinking, anxiety, depression, and hostility. They also report an increased ability to relax, greater energy and enthusiasm for life, improved confidence and self-esteem, and more effective coping with both short-term and long-term stress.
Mindfulness research at UNC has demonstrated benefits for individuals with irritable bowel syndrome . Ongoing clinical studies examine the efficacy of mindfulness training for preventing diabetes and in helping sufferers of neck pain.