Could a simple mindfulness practice be your number one choice for protecting your brain, memory and psychological health?
Try a Mindfulness Practice +EO Recipe at the end of this article and see for yourself.
Mindfulness involves the intentional regulation and focus of one’s attention. It adds the elements of a non-judgmental attitude, openness and acceptance to what one is currently experiencing.
With mindfulness you recognize yourself as the observer of life events. This opens space between you and what is happening. You are now in an empowered position relative to any event. Things are no longer happening to you personally, but rather you are watching events as they pass like a movie on the screen of life.
Mindfulness training and meditation have ancient roots that date back more than 2,500 hundred years ago to the teachings of Buddha.
In his book, “The Miracle of Mindfulness,” published in 1976 the exiled Vietnamese Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh, writes, “Mindfulness is the miracle by which we master and restore ourselves. Consider, for example: a magician who cuts his body into many parts and places each part in a different region—hands in the south, arms in the east, legs in the north, and then by some miraculous power lets forth a cry which reassembles whole every part of his body. Mindfulness is like that—it is the miracle which can call back in a flash our dispersed mind and restore it to wholeness so that we can live each minute of life.”
Even earlier, Ramana Maharshi, a Hindu sage and jivanmukta (liberated being) wrote, “Who Am I,” a book about Self Enquiry, published in 1923. Through a series of questions Ramana leads you to discover that you are primarily spiritual in nature.
Thousands of studies have now been published on Mindfulness to date. Researchers have discovered that Mindfulness seems to change the brain of depressed patients.
The Harvard Gazette (HG) reported that, “More than 16.1 million Americans experienced major depression in 2015.” Studies show that number continues to rise. According to HG, “People often struggle to function while grappling with crippling darkness and despair.”
Suicide rates have been steadily increasing since 2,000 and, according to the CDC, “The 10th leading cause of death for all ages in the U.S.”
Doctor’s suicide rate is the highest of any profession. According to a 2018 study of doctor suicides conducted by Dr. Deepika Tanwar, of the psychiatric program at Harlem Hospital Center in New York, “About 400 doctors commit suicide each year.” Stress and depression are thought to be the greatest contributing factors to suicides. Doctors are under extreme stress as they routinely make life and death decisions. Physician error is the third leading cause of death.
Who Is at Risk for Suicide?
According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), “Suicide does not discriminate. People of all genders, ages, and ethnicities can be at risk.”
The main risk factors cited by NIH for suicide are:
- Prior suicide attempt
- Depression or other mental health issue
- Substance abuse
- Family history of mental health disturbances or substance abuse
- Family history of suicide
- Family violence, including physical or sexual abuse
- Having guns or other firearms in the home
- Being imprisoned
- Being exposed to suicidal behavior
- Medical illness
- Being between the ages of 15 and 24 years or over age 60
Studies show that most people with the above risk factors for suicide do not attempt suicide. Who will act on suicidal thoughts remains difficult to assess.
Why do some people become suicidal while others do not?
Research indicates that people who attempt suicide may interpret and react to events differently than those who do not attempt suicide. For instance, when events are framed with negative expectations then self destructive behaviors are more likely to occur.
It is well-known that many of the standard treatment interventions for depression and anxiety, which are frequently associated as leading causes of suicidal thoughts and behaviors, do not work. Thus, research for alternative approaches to dealing with depression and anxiety are being advanced.
A systemic review on the, “Effects of Mindfulness on Psychological Health: A Review of Empirical Studies,” was conducted. The study was interested in discovering how attention, awareness, memory/retention, and acceptance/discernment were affected by Mindfulness practices.
Acknowledged for its wide-ranging popularity in psychology, psychiatry, medicine and neuroscience the Mindfulness study wanted to look at the Stress Reduction (MBSR) introduced by John Kabat-Zin in the late 1970s as a complementary therapy for medically ailing individuals.
The study also cited that Mindfulness is available as a standard psychotherapeutic treatment administered by the National Health Service in the United Kingdom and has become part of standard education for school children in London.
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) was also reviewed by the study. ACT was developed based on the premise that, ”Psychological distress is often associated with attempts to control or avoid negative thoughts and emotions which often, paradoxically, increase the frequency and intensity of these internal events, and result in further distress and inability to engage in behaviors that would lead to valued long-term goals.”
The central aim of ACT is to create greater psychological flexibility by teaching skills that increase one’s willingness to come into contact with uncomfortable life experiences, recognize their value, and commit to behavior that supports those associated positive values.
ACT teaches mindfulness to enhance awareness of an ‘observing self’ and fosters the diffusion of negative thoughts and beliefs. It does not teach mindfulness meditation exercises, but focuses on helping patients cultivate present-centered awareness and acceptance
A number of studies have been conducted to evaluate the results of ACT in treating a wide range of mental health issues, including depression, anxiety, impulse control disorders, schizophrenia, substance abuse and addiction, and workplace stress
ACT was found to be more effective than standard treatments. It was shown to improve social functioning, relieve symptoms of distress, and lower re-hospitalization rates.
ACT was also shown to be effective at reducing multiple substance abuse issues, as well as reducing nicotine dependence and manic disorders.
This broad systemic review of studies concluded that, “Mindfulness is positively associated with psychological health, and that training in mindfulness may bring about positive psychological effects. The effects ranged from increased subjective well-being, reduced psychological symptoms and emotional reactivity, to improved regulation of one’s behavior." The study also stated that, “It is likely that new paradigms for the understanding and application of mindfulness will continue to appear, which would move us further toward the goals of alleviating human psychological suffering and helping others live a life that is happier and more fulfilling.”
Prospects for a Clinical Science of Mindfulness-Based Intervention
The science and practice of MBI has reached an important point in its evolution and development. The growing interest in MBI by an increasingly large segment of the population worldwide, along with an increasing number of MBI studies, shows that Mindfulness practices are set be used more frequently to treat a variety of clinical problems.
Time: 15 minutes or less.
Try this simple exercise and experience the benefits of mindfulness for yourself.
Have you ever looked to see yourself from inside?
How does it feel to be you inside? Beyond any self-image or ideas about who you think you are as a body and mind.
For best results you must truly engage in the exercise to experience the results of mindfulness for yourself, first hand.
Meet Your Beautiful Self
Close your eyes and go within yourself. Through this exercise you will be allowing yourself to experience the aliveness of your own being and the stillness, silence and presence that is you.
To do this you need only to let go of any thoughts about yourself and just be. Leave aside all your ideas about yourself and your life.
Just for a moment let go of any thoughts, ideas or emotions you may have from the past.
Consciously let go, don’t hold onto anything. Let go of any self-definitions. I’m so and so, I do this, I’m a mother, a daughter, a sister. Let go of all self-descriptions.
Leave everything aside. Anything to do with the future just leave it. You don’t need to do anything at this present moment. Just leave everything aside, just for a moment.
You have no intention at all about anything, your mind is totally empty, quiet and still.
Don’t pick up any projections for the future or past, or any self-definitions or descriptions.
All projections are gone. Any and all expectations about what may happen are completely gone.
Your Beautiful Self
From this clear, empty space how do you feel. Do you have any problems?
Allow yourself to just be in this clear and empty space for 3-5 minutes.
If using essential oils now is the time to introduce your oils through direct inhalation (using a cotton ball, or smell strip), or in a diffuser for diffusion into the air. You are using the essential oils as a neuro-associative conditioning tool, so that anytime you smell your Mindfulness EO blend you will remember and strengthen your experience of yourself as pure awareness.
Doing a mindfulness practice daily helps build mental and emotional resilience. So, that in the event you experience a mind attack of negative thoughts and expectations, you will be able to stand your ground and not be overwhelmed by them. With consistent practice (repetition) you can remain aware of your inner peaceful nature even in the worst mind storm.
Mindfulness EO Recipe
- Ylang Ylang III (Cananga odorata) - 20 drops
- Bergamot (Citrus bergamia) - 40 drops
- Frankincense/Olibanum (Boswellia frereana) - 20 drops
- Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia - 20 drops
Research on EOs in this formula
Protecting and calming your nervous system is fundamental to maintaining a quiet and peaceful mind.
In an effort to discover alternative therapies to drugs, which have unwanted side effects, a review of studies to date was conducted on the Neuroprotective and Anti-Aging Potentials of Essential Oils from Aromatic and Medicinal Plants. The review concluded that the EOs studied are, "Effective on almost all currently known pathological targets of Attention Deficit (AD) and possess neuroprotective, anti-aging potentials and are effective in dementia, epilepsy, anxiety and other neurological disorders." It was noted that anti-aging EOs are more effective as prevention of neurological disorders. The EOs studied included Bergamot, Lavender and Ylang Ylang.
Studies on the protective effects of certain chemical constituents contained in Frankincense/Olibanum (Boswellia carterii) suggest that it's, "Anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective activities may serve as a novel therapeutic treatment for ischemic injury," specifically resulting from stroke.
To a 5ml (100 drops) colored glass euro-dropper bottle add your drops of essential oils. Close cap tightly and shake bottle vigorously to blend your oils thoroughly. Allow the oils to synergize for 8-12 hours of longer before using.
READ related article, Healing the Shadow: The Simplest Most Direct Way to Get Free of Mind Programs.