What Is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness means paying attention to the present moment with a non-judgmental, non-reactive and accepting attitude.
The central principles of Mindfulness are known as equanimity and impermanence.
Equanimity means a neutral response to something we experience. It is a state of awareness where we neither feel an aversion for unpleasant experience nor craving for pleasant ones. Other ways of describing Equanimity are balance, calmness, and composure.
Impermanence means the changing nature of all things including our own thoughts and feelings. By experiencing the changing nature of internal experiences, we can detach ourselves from rigid views that can sometimes lead to stress and unhappiness.
Do you see how mindfulness can be helpful for eating disorder‘s treatment? It helps us to develop the state of balance or equanimity where we neither feel an aversion for unpleasant experience nor craving for pleasant ones.
When you go on a binge, just before you start you always have these overwhelming feelings of cravings for food. Before starving yourself you have feelings of aversion or disgust with yourself and your body – so you stop eating.
With mindfulness you will be able to see your eating disorder as a foreign voice (or a person) who is sitting inside you, telling you what to do. When you practice mindfulness you will be able to separate yourself from this foreign voice and be free.
Mindfulness is a subset of meditation practices. To be mindful first of all you must learn to meditate. Mindfulness and meditation are similar but not exactly the same. Like we have already explained that mindfulness is the awareness of the present moment. But Meditation is the intentional self regulation of attention. During meditation you regulate and control your attention. And this is a development of mindfulness.
In mindfulness you learn not to judge and not to react. Observing what passes by nonjudgmentally, from moment to moment, with no reactivity whatsoever towards any part of the experience, whether the thought or the sensation. By decreasing our overactivity in the judgmental part of the mind and the reactive part of the mind, our nervous system learns to change its pattern. It becomes less judgmental, less reactive, more objective, providing us with more opportunities to manage life whatever the problem is.
This method is not limited to eating disorders, anxieties, fears or depression. People of different faiths practice this method in different ways for thousands of years. This is certainly not limited to psychological or emotional problems.
Everyone will benefit from decreasing reactivity, decreasing biased judgments, giving new parameters to the nervous system, and more insight and focused attention. In a nutshell, the purpose of practicing mindfulness training is to develop a degree of acceptance towards one’s experience, and of course an equal degree of awareness. When things become acceptable on the inside, it seems that people find things more acceptable on the outside as well. The world becomes a better place.
Dr Irina Webster MD is a recognised athority in the eating disorders area. She is an author of many books on women health. She propagates mindfulness therapy and neuroplasticity as a treatment for eating disorders.
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