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by Rhonda Stanton, Psychologist
Many of us are familiar with the benefits of aerobics for the body but what about aerobics for our minds?
It turns out that there is such a concept and it is called mindfulness.
Humans have the capacity to reflect on the past and think about the future. While this is a useful skill, it takes us out of the present moment. This can result in increased stress levels. For some people, too much rumination spirals into anxiety or depression.
Mindfulness has been defined as “paying attention in a particular way, on purpose, in the moment and non-judgmentally” (Jon Kabat Zinn).
Mindfulness is a practice that has been shown to be effective with clinical disorders including anxiety, depression, chronic pain and substance misuse. It is also an effective strategy to manage stress.
It is important to note that mindfulness is not the same as relaxation, although often relaxation is a beneficial side effect. Just as there are many different sports or types of music, there are many types of meditation – there is no one size fits all. Whether you choose yoga or a meditation based approach, there are numerous benefits of mindfulness practice.
Neural plasticity is a new concept that simply means that the brain changes in response to experience. By learning to bring your attention back to the present moment, it has been shown that in as little as eight weeks of daily meditation practice, changes can be observed via fMRI studies (Farb et al, 2010).
Benefits include:

  • Improved self awareness
  • Learning to deal with difficult emotions
  • Reduced rumination
  • Reduced stress
  • Improved focus
  • Improved cognitive flexibility

If you think you may benefit from mindfulness based therapy, ask your GP if you would be eligible for a Mental Health Care Plan and referral to a psychologist. A MHCP enables you to access a Medicare rebate for psychological treatment. Alternatively, you can make an appointment directly with Rhonda Stanton or the team at Psychology Consultants as a private client with no referral required.