The practice of mindfulness has gained in popularity in recent years, so much so that it is even being taught in schools.

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Mindfulness and Wellbeing

At the Lancaster health Festival last year, we ran a full day of taster sessions on mindfulness open to the public and delivered by an experienced mindfulness teacher, Steve Johnson. We will be running similar sessions this year and Steve will be talking about his work running a research project on mindfulness and cancer. (Eventbrite Link to Mindfulness for Life)

Mindfulness for Life – Mindfulness for ill Health?

Everyone wants to be ‘Mindful’ and there are CDs, Smartphone Apps, colouring books and even a Ladybird book of Mindfulness. But does it work?  This is what we began trying to work out in a piece of research that we did in partnership with patients, the Royal Lancaster Infirmary’s Oncology and Palliative Care Departments, and Lancaster University.

We looked at Mindfulness for Health intervention as a method of enhancing patients’ self-management of their conditions. They learned how to enhance their quality of life through developing the ability to respond to the demands of their condition and its treatment while meeting their own physical, psychological, emotional and spiritual needs. Our results are still being collated but in the meantime we thought that people might be interested in:

What is mindfulness?  Mindfulness is a way of living, a way of engaging with whatever life brings us. Some think of mindfulness as meditation, but meditation is just one tool that can, where appropriate, help you develop mindful ways of living. Modern secular mindfulness practices include many other tools, techniques and skills to enable you to live well through incorporating mindfulness into your daily life. Mindfulness gives you the ability to be fully engaged in life without getting entangled in all the thoughts, feelings and emotions that are part of our everyday existence, the ability to choose how we respond rather than our usual reactive habits.

Why would you study mindfulness?  The growing popularity of ‘Mindfulness’ as a technique for stress management and its recognition by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) as an effective treatment for recurrent depression has prompted interest in its potential therapeutic benefit for a number of areas of health and social care..

What did you want to do in the research?  This project was a pilot study designed to open up the question of the potential benefit for Mindfulness based interventions in patients who have serious diagnosis but still functioning in the community.  In particular this study aimed:

  • To test the ease with which this technique can be taught to patients allowing them a degree of autonomy in taking the practice forward.
  • To measure and record potential improvements in patients’ mental health perceived to be as a result of Mindfulness practice.
  • To compare patients attitudes to key elements of their condition/circumstances pre and post mindfulness based intervention.