The Merits of Mindfulness and Meditation in Medicine

Matias Petteri Raski


The following is a review of literature concerning the place of mindfulness, a non-judging present-moment awareness, and techniques by which to invoke it, in Canadian healthcare. Central to the discussion are the effects of mindfulness on personal and interpersonal well-being. Mindfulness has been found to positively impact a wide range of measures of personal health including stress, anxiety, affect, and healthy lifestyle choices. It also presents benefits to interpersonal relationships by promoting empathy, compassion and attentiveness, which in turnfacilitate healthy physician-patient relationships and high quality of medical care.At present, mindfulness-based therapies are applied to a wide range of psychiatric and somatic illnesses with impressive efficacy. With recent growth in research interest, new worthwhile applications of mindfulness such as mindfulness training for physicians as a means to prevent burnout and compassion fatigue continue to be uncovered. Recent investigations of mechanisms underlying the effects of mindfulness are also discussed. There exists an emerging emphasis onthe disempowerment of maladaptive cognitions as determinants of behaviour, leaving the individual free to skillfully, consciously and deliberately navigate her mental life. Given the evidently remarkable potential for mindfulness to promote health, its increased utilization among patients, physicians, and the population at large is advocated in this writing.

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