VIDEO: The Impact of Mindfulness Meditation

In her interview with PsychAlive Senior Editor Lisa Firestone, Dr. Donna Rockwell talks about the impact of mindfulness meditation, from its influence on breast cancer patients to the prison population. Watch or read the interview below.

Lisa Firestone:  There’s been a lot of research showing beneficial effects of mindfulness meditation practice.  Could you describe some of the recent findings or what your understanding is about that?

Donna Rockwell:  Well, there’s been a lot of research done, working with breast cancer survivors, other survivors of cancer, prisoners in prison and that is, you know, a lot of research there.  They’re very interesting.  You know, people say, “You can take my life away.  You can incarcerate me.  But you can’t take away my mind or my being with my mind or being with myself.”  In a way, they’re sort of on retreat, you know, they’re isolated and there’s nowhere to go but into themselves.  So there’s been a lot of great research on working with the prison population.

And with cancer, you know, I also teach mindfulness at a hospital.  To breast cancer patients.  And they come in and they look extremely chagrined, very worried about their future.  And a week or so later, they’ll come up to me and they’ll say, “Thank you.”  And I’ll say, “I didn’t do anything.  What?”  And they’ll say, “Because I got my life back because before, you know, my grandchildren were around me, but I wasn’t with them.  I was worried about my future.  Now I can actually be present with my children and my grandchildren in the room because I know that in this very instant, nothing’s wrong.”

So what meditation shows us is that we spend 9/10 of our life catastrophizing about the future or bemoaning the past.  And that’s where we spend our entire life.  And that’s a shame.  And so what meditation teaches us is how to come back from future catastrophizing and bemoaning of past experiences and actually be in the here and now.

And that’s what the research is bearing out.  Is that especially with cancer patients, they’re able to be so much more happy and well and in the here and now.  And of course, then your immune function’s working better and everything can sort of work toward healing instead of more catastrophizing, which activates the fight or flight response, cortisol production and it’s not healthy.

About the Author

Donna Rockwell, Psy.D. Dr. Donna Rockwell, Psy.D., L.P. is a licensed clinical psychologist, adjunct faculty member, community outreach worker, columnist, and mindfulness meditation teacher. Dr. Rockwell specializes in both mindfulness and celebrity mental health. She works with clients in her private practice and teaches public meditation classes. You can watch Dr. Rockwell on YouTube or read more of her blogs at The New Existentialists.

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