Mindfulness: It’s Not What You think

The following post was generously provided by my esteemed colleague, Larry Berkelhammer, PhD. I'm always so honored to be fortunate enough to share such valuable information to my readers and patients. It is the collaborative efforts of people like Larry who allow myself and other practitioners the opportunity to provide the most all encompassing approach to treating our patients. Please visit Larry's website at www.larryberkelhammer.com where you can read more about his approach to mindfulness and how it serves him ever day. By: Larry Berkelhammer, PhD

Much of our stress and fatigue are the result of the negative attributions we assign to otherwise neutral events along with our entanglement or fusion with those attributions. Mindfulness practice can provide us with the cognitive mastery that allows us to disentangle from the type of thinking patterns that catalyze emotional distress and its concomitant physiological stress.

Many physicians and other healthcare providers are so overworked that it’s quite challenging to find time each day to set aside for formal mindfulness meditation. There is a solution for this problem that can obviate the need for formal sitting meditation.

My recommendation, for which I’ve found great efficacy, admittedly in a study with an n of one, is bed meditation. Meditation teachers would probably say bed meditation is orthogonal to mindfulness, but, try the following and then decide.

Instead of getting out of bed, just lie there and begin to follow the sensations of respiration, while breathing diaphragmatically.  Tune in to the sensations resulting from the contraction of the diaphragm and the movement of the abdominal wall as the diaphragm pushes the viscera downward with each inspiration. Your mind will often drift off into a dream state. Each time, with strong intention, label the wandering as dream and return your full attention to the sensations associated with respiration.

This practice is so relaxing that you may drift back to sleep, which isn’t so bad, since it’s too early to get up anyway. When your mind drifts off, gently and nonjudgmentally return your full attention to following those sensations.

Quite often, I awake as much as an hour and a half before I need to get up. Increasingly, I’m able to keep my attention focused on the respiration sensations most of the time. Amazingly, on those days, I have more energy than when I sleep the entire night.