The impact of stress on health is well recognized. Now the efficacy of stress reduction as an adjunct to medical treatment is being recognized in more and more health care settings. In 1996 Dr. Mark Abramson founded a program at Stanford University Medical Center using the 2,500-year-old technique of Mindfulness Meditation to train patients as an adjunct treatment for many different medical conditions.
Mindfulness is "nonjudgmental awareness." This requires one to pay attention to direct experience in the present moment, neither clinging to what is perceived as pleasant nor reacting with aversion toward what is perceived as unpleasant. In both mental and physical stress, much of the perpetuating cycle of pain or discomfort is a result of one’s judgmental struggle to push away what is experienced as unpleasant. Yet as one becomes willing to directly meet the actual experience, it becomes finite. One begins to see that it can be workable to deal with a finite level of discomfort one moment at a time.
Approximately 3,000 people have taken this training with Dr. Abramson. Most patients report a significant increase in their ability to manage their illness and significant reductions in stress and physical complaints. Dr. Abramson adds, "What I most appreciate is participants reporting improved ability to respond to themselves with kindness and compassion."
Recommended reading: Kabat-Zinn, Full Catastrophe Living.
CE credit for dentists; see leader.