RIDGEWOOD, N.J. -- When confronted with stress, anxiety or other mental distresses, people are turning in increasing numbers to the ancient practice of mindfulness, and applying centuries old techniques to modern, everyday life.
"The practice of mindfulness dates back thousands of years and has roots in both yoga and meditation," said Dr. Jodie Katz, director of the Center for Integrative Medicine at The Valley Hospital. "The overarching goals of mindfulness are for the individual to learn to be present in the moment and to be able to quiet his or her mind. This can make a significant impact on an individual’s stress level and overall wellbeing."
For those who experience stress, mindfulness also enables them to live more fully in the moment. "The process of knowing the experience as it is, and ourselves as we are, is a large component of the attitudinal foundation of mindfulness," said Katz. "We are encouraged to have a warm, open curiosity about life."
Due in part to today's non-stop world, the flexibility of mindfulness has made it a hit with everyone from time-strapped teens to busy adults. "Mindfulness is flexible and can be personalized to fit into an individual’s lifestyle," said Katz. "You can actually benefit from short meditations, and believe it or not, you can meditate just about anywhere."
For those looking to begin the practice, Katz suggested following the below tips to better relax and more quickly experience the benefits of mindfulness:
- Pay close attention to breathing, especially when feeling intense emotions.
- Notice what you’re sensing in a given moment; process the sights, sounds and smells that ordinarily slip by without reaching conscious awareness.
- Recognize that your thoughts and emotions are fleeting and do not define you.
- Tune into your body’s physical sensations, from the water hitting your skin in the shower to the way your body rests in your office chair.
"Mindfulness-based meditation can make a genuine impact on an individual’s ability to manage his or her stress," said Katz. "In today’s fast-paced and competitive environment, being able to mitigate the impact of life’s stressors on our physical and emotional health is more important than ever."
Valley’s Center for Integrative Medicine offers a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) Course for adults. To learn more or to register for an upcoming course, call 201-389-0075.