Thursday, November 4, 2010

Mindfulness and Motivation

The practice of mindfulness is the training of the mind to focus on the present. Many studies have shown the positive effect of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy in helping patients with ADHD, OCD, and depression.These disorders have a profound negative impact on ones motivation, and can be transformed with simple meditation techniques.

John Teasdale hypothesized that teaching mindfulness to patients with depression would decrease susceptibility to relapse. To test the theory scientists John Teasdale, Zindel Segal, and Mark Williams randomly assigned half a sample of 145 depressed patients to receive mindfulness based therapy with the other half of depressed patients to receive usual care. Teasdale, Segal, and Williams developed a program in which depressed patients would meet weekly for eight two hour sessions of mindfulness training. The training included a technique in which the patients were taught to focus intently on sensations of various parts of the body. They then learned to focus on the breath without becoming frustrated by the minds tendency to wander. They were taught to view despairing thoughts as transient mental events that did not reflect reality.

After a year of observing both groups of depressed patients, it was reported that 34% of the usual care patients remained relapse free while 66% of the patients taught mindfulness remained relapse free. Surprisingly the preventive effect of mindfulness was only effective on the most serious cases of depression in which the patients had suffered three or more past episodes of depression.This among other studies show the plasticity of the brain in dealing with stress.

Source: Begly, S. (2007). Train your mind mind change your brain how a new science reveals our extraordinary potential to transform ourselves. United States: The Random House Publishing Group.

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