Mindfulness breeds resilience.
You're worrying, hurrying, scurrying about. You have a dozen things on your mind
-- but stop for a moment: Are you being mindful?
Mindfulness -- paying attention on purpose and without judgment -- will help you deal
with life's challenges more calmly and effectively. Goldstein discussed the benefits of mindfulness tools for reducing stress and anxiety and led participants through two
brief exercises to illustrate his point.
"These are difficult times right now for a lot of people," said Goldstein, who is in private
practice and has authored books and CDs on mindfulness. Learning to become more
"present," he said, frees us to be more flexible and creative - and ultimately, more
resilient, enjoying better health and well-being.
Participants in a study who practiced mindfulness techniques for five minutes a
day over a period of three weeks reported significant reductions in stress along
with increases in life satisfaction, positive relations with others and mastery of
one's environment. These are "all key players in creating a life worth living," Goldstein added.
Psychologist Elisha Goldstein.
Mindfulness works by helping us break out of habitual, often ineffective patterns of
thinking and acting. The human mind, Goldstein explained, is constantly thinking about
without having to constantly think about the skills you're using. But this tendency has
a downside: responding to problems in rigid, unthinking ways.
"When, for example, we hear that budget cuts are coming," Goldstein said, "we may
become anxious and afraid. Our mind is going on automatic pilot, thinking, 'How do
I fix this? What do I need to do?' Our body may tense up, our heart pounds and our
breathing becomes rapid."
Caught in this uncomfortable bind, some people speed up and work even harder to
try to solve the problem. Others flee, seeking escape through substances like alcohol.
But either approach, Goldstein said, "is like pouring kerosene on the fire, and we start
to become more and more anxious." Fast-moving multi-taskers often end up even
more stressed, while those seeking escape succeed in doing so only temporarily.