Mindfulness has been all over the news lately. The last month has been a blur of joyful holiday gatherings with family, and it felt like at each get together someone else would mention a different article or TV program they’d just seen touting the benefits of mindfulness. In case, like me, you’ve also spent the last few weeks away from your computer I wanted to give you some of the mindfulness highlights.
News Anchors Meditate! And they like it a lot!
Both Anderson Cooper and ABC’s Dan Harris have recently been singing praises for mindfulness practice. In a segment on 60 Minutes, a somewhat surprised Cooper shares that mindfulness "really has changed my day to day life," explaining that with mindfulness you’re actually living each moment instead of letting them pass you by. There are a handful of other interesting videos about mindfulness, the science behind it, and the intersection between the practice and technology over on the 60 Minutes website: http://www.cbsnews.com/news/mindfulness-anderson-cooper-60-minutes/
Another former skeptic, Nightline anchor Dan Harris, has been spreading the word about why and how mindfulness helped him to be "10% Happier" in his new book of that title. He first came to mindfulness after he started covering religion and spirituality for ABC News. He had already suffered an on-air panic attack (that sounds like the worst kind of panic attack!) and needed a better way to take care of himself.
He shared with NPR’s Weekend Edition that, "I honestly believe this is the next big public health revolution. The big problem is that there's this PR issue around meditation. People think it's either too weird or too difficult. And so my goal is to dispel both myths and to say, A, if somebody like me, a skeptic like me is doing it, you can do it. And, B, if somebody with the attention span of a kitten, like me, is doing it, you can too."
Teens meditate! And it’s helping them a lot!
The Washington Post recently reported on the growth of mindfulness programs in high schools across the country. In Oregon, more than one high schools offer mindfulness and yoga to help students to ease anxiety, deal with negative emotions and lower violence. So far it appears to be working, and a junior in the class shared that she was "less stressed-out and able to better cope with stress." This student isn’t alone, and The Washington Post notes that courses and after school programs like it are popping up in California and Vermont.
Doctors and scientists are studying patients who meditate! And they’re finding that, yes, it helps a lot!
Scientific American recently highlighted the work of Dr. Linda E. Carlson who has been studying the impact of mindfulness on our DNA. In her most recent study, published in Cancer, she found that "in breast cancer patients, support group involvement and mindfulness meditation … are associated with preserved telomere length." Telomeres help to keep our chromosomes intact; when they deteriorate, we deteriorate. Another study by Carlson showed that mindfulness was "associated with healthier levels of the stress hormone cortisol and a decrease in other compounds that promote inflammation."
I think all of this scientific evidence and votes of support are pretty great. Though, you won’t know the impact that mindfulness can have on your life until you try it. :-) Happy meditating!