How Mindfulness Is Transforming the Healthcare Industry
As Chief Mindfulness Officer of Mastermind Meditate and a Cognitive Neuroscience graduate student at the University of Texas at Dallas, I spend a lot of time at the intersection of mindfulness meditation and scientific research. It’s an exciting place to be – in the past ten years, there has been an explosion of neuroscience research around the benefits of mindfulness and mindful meditation practices.
These scientific stamps of approval have contributed to the prevalence of mindfulness in the healthcare industry. More and more healthcare professionals are turning to mindfulness for their own self-care and for the care of their patients.
At Mastermind’s January Mindfulness for Beginners seminar, I couldn’t help but notice that an entire corner of the 60-person room was made up of physicians. Not surprisingly, these healthcare professionals asked several questions about the research behind different types of formal and informal mindfulness practices.
This anecdotal evidence of increased mindfulness among healthcare providers is supported by literature: there are a multitude of papers outlining recommended mindfulness-based self-care practices for healthcare providers. These articles are meant to reduce health worker burnout and increase healthcare effectiveness.
University medical schools are also recognizing the need to perpetuate mindfulness practices within their healthcare divisions. Last year the University of Massachusetts Medical School announced the very first Division of Mindfulness. What’s more, healthcare professionals at the University of Virginia are encouraged to take advantage of free Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) training through its Mindfulness Center.
These healthcare professionals and health organizations recognize that mindfulness supports self-care, stress management, and overall wellbeing. What’s more, having a personal mindfulness practice prepares healthcare providers to support their patients with mindfulness as well.
At Mastermind, we’ve given mindfulness training to many healthcare providers, from physicians to psychotherapists to periodontists. It is amazing to hear how these healthcare professionals translate their personal mindfulness practices into their work with their patients. Today, Mastermind clients help their patients with everything from hysterectomy recovery to physical therapy after debilitating injuries.
We’ve also witnessed the other side of the benefits of mindfulness in the healthcare industry: helping patients experiencing pain. For example, a client suffering from PTSD after an accident was referred to Mastermind by his doctor. He began attending our workshops and developing a personal mindful meditation practice to cope with his pain and anxiety. Through the science-based practice of mindfulness, he has found incredible personal benefit and physical and emotional relief from the symptoms of the accident.
As the trend toward referring patients to mindfulness continues, doctors may be able to write their patients prescriptions for digital meditation apps as well as in-person mindfulness training. Headspace Health is seeking FDA approval for their mindfulness app to treat a variety of stress-related chronic diseases. This inclusion of digital options for mindfulness referrals could further boost the trend towards alternative treatments in the healthcare industry.
The practice of mindfulness is transforming the healthcare industry for both physicians and their patients. More physicians are turning to mindfulness to cope with their high-stress jobs and are passing the benefits along to their patients to help them deal with anxiety, stress and pain.
Do you have questions about mindfulness and mindfulness research as it applies to the healthcare industry? Leave your questions in the comments.