Mindful healing: exploring how focus and mentality support health

It would be rare to find a person who has gone through life completely unscathed. Physical ailments, mental distress, and emotional ups-and-downs are simply part of being human. So whilst we can’t prevent or cure every injury, illness, difficulty, or pain, research continues to confirm that mindfulness is something we can practice to soothe our symptoms and support the rehabilitation of many conditions we face.

What is mindful healing?

First, it must be said that your body is naturally capable of healing and renewing itself in countless ways. Your body can fight infections, mend broken bones, and stitch up cuts and scrapes. It continually regenerates your liver cells, intestinal lining, and outermost layer of skin. Even your heart – anatomical and emotional – can heal from the physical trauma of a heart attack and the mental and emotional stress of heartbreak, grief, and loss.

Though your body may be able to overcome many illnesses and injuries; some physical, mental, and emotional health difficulties are persistent, chronic, or without a known cure. No matter what your unique situation, mindful healing uses a wide array of mindfulness practices to cultivate optimum conditions for you to experience your own dynamic expression of greater peace and wellbeing.


How might mindful healing promote wellness?

Though modern research into the benefits of mindfulness and mindful healing is at an early stage, there are already many documented benefits to adding mindfulness to your toolbox of self-care and healthcare techniques. However, it is crucial to consider that every person will have their own unique experience when faced with health concerns and when adopting mindful healing practices. As you explore potential resources, here are some hopeful ways mindful healing has been shown to help promote wellness for physical and mental health ailments, support rehabilitation and symptom management, and improve quality of living.

Cancer Treatment
Cancer affects millions of people of all ages from around the world. As cancer research and treatments continue to evolve, many clinicians and cancer centers are turning to mindfulness as a supportive adjunct treatment. Current clinical studies on the efficacy of mindfulness for cancer survivors and patients have demonstrated improvements in mood, depression, anxiety, anger, distress, fatigue, fear of cancer recurrence, and somatic symptoms, in addition to the potential improve one’s quality of life.

Chronic Pain
It’s estimated that 1 in 5 people around the world are affected by chronic pain (CP), which is defined as pain that lasts for more than 12 weeks. From lower back pain to arthritis, chronic pain contributes to poor sleep, insomnia, fatigue, depression, and decreased quality of life. Current clinical studies show that mindfulness may help reduce symptoms of pain and depression while improving pain-coping and quality of life.

Cardiovascular Disease
Though most cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) can be prevented through lifestyle factors, CVDs are the number one cause of death worldwide. The negative effects of certain lifestyle factors – such as physical inactivity, unhealthy diet, alcohol misuse, and tobacco use–can lead to low Heart Rate Variability (HRV) and elevated blood pressure, blood glucose, blood lipids, and body weight. Because it can improve your ability to cope with stress, lower your blood pressure, and increase your HRV, mindfulness practices can help support your cardiovascular health and reduce your risk for CVDs. Additionally, with its potential to elevate your mood and support behavioural change, mindfulness practices may be a useful tool for reducing and overcoming the lifestyle risk factors that elevate the risk for CVDs.

Addiction
Affecting millions of people worldwide, addiction is a complex mind-body disease of compulsive and destructive substance abuse that can have long-term impacts on how the brain functions. Because of its potential to help combat stress and influence cognitive and behavioural change, mindfulness has been introduced as a promising tool for addiction treatment and relapse prevention. To date, clinical studies have shown that mindfulness may help manage cravings, alleviate symptoms of depression, and reduce substance misuse.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
PTSD, a mental health condition that may develop after one experiences or witnesses a dangerous or terrifying event, causes a suspended state of fear or stress that interrupts one’s ability to function normally. As an adjunct alternative therapy, clinical studies have demonstrated that mindfulness may be a promising tool to address PTSD symptoms of hyperarousal, dissociation, stress, depression, avoidance, and negative thoughts (such as shame, self-blame, and guilt).

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What are the components of mindful healing?

From meditation to breathing techniques to physical movement, mindful healing practices all have three essential components that are equally recognised by traditional sources and modern clinical applications. As defined by Jon Kabat-Zinn, a pioneer of mindful medicine, mindfulness is “the awareness that emerges through paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally to the unfolding of experience moment by moment.” From this definition, mindful healing can be broken down into three interrelated components:

Focus. Mindfulness is the art of paying attention (internally and externally), which allows us to shift our perspective, step out of our automatic thought processes, and develop an intimate understanding of our inner landscape.

Intention. Instead of a mind aimlessly wandering (which is actually shown to decrease happiness!), mindfulness practices aim to purposefully align our thoughts and actions in the present moment.

Mentality. Mindfulness practices work to create conditions where we intentionally witness our minds with an attitude of objectivity and compassion.

Qigong: a path to mindful healing

Through its time-tested and integrated approach to holistic health and mindfulness, Qigong offers an integrative framework to mindful healing that can be easily learned and customized to meet a diverse range of individual needs. As you explore your resources mindful healing, check out our blog, online courses, and in-person events for practical information and techniques on unlocking your potential for mindfulness and comprehensive wellbeing.

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