This course will 1) explore fundamental principles underlying mindfulness, 2) the scientific data on its effects, and 3) the ways in which mindfulness is being applied to clinical and educational settings to support healthy human development. Contemplative practices include all forms of meditation, including contemplative dimensions of yoga, tai chi, qigong and other mind-body wellness activities. By far the most well known contemplative practice in the U.S. today is “mindfulness.” Mindfulness meditation was introduced into clinical medicine in the 1980’s in the form of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) by Jon Kabat-Zinn and his colleagues at U Mass; since that time it has had a significant impact on psychoneuroimmunology, clinical medicine, and especially behavioral medicine.
Both psychological theory and practice have slowly been transformed by new findings emerging from mindfulness research. Brain imaging studies of persons engaged in meditation suggest that focused mental activities can actually change cerebral blood flow (Newberg et al 2010), brain morphology and neural circuitry, in addition to strengthening the immune system (Davidson et al 2003) and improving attention skills (Jha et al 2007). MBSR has been repeatedly documented to be effective in treating mental health problems, particularly depression and anxiety, in numerous adult populations (Goyal et al 2014). Now, researchers are testing MBSR and other mindfulness approaches in children and adolescents as both a way to treat social-emotional dysfunction as well as to promote health and enhance