I am smiling with gratitude as I write this post. Why? Dr. Lidia Zylowska, a UCLA trained psychiatrist, Diplomate of the American Board of Integrative Holistic Medicine and award winning author of the book called, “The Mindfulness Prescription for Adult ADHD: An 8-step Program for Strengthening Attention, Managing Emotions, and Achieving your Goals” was a guest on my podcast this week. Dr. Zylowska’s body of work is to be commended as she and her colleagues at UCLA have built upon the knowledge of the great sages throughout history coupled with the work of modern day visionaries such as Professor Emeritus at University of Massachusetts Jon Kabat-Zinn Ph.D., founder of scientifically based Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). Dr. Zylowska and I discussed the evolution of her interest in her mindfulness research and the practical applications of being mindful for overall health and wellbeing in our daily lives.
What is mindfulness?
It seems to be a buzzword these days in our modern day vernacular. Jon Kabat-Zinn defines mindfulness as “The awareness that emerges through paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgementally to the unfolding of experience moment by moment.” During our interview, Dr. Zylowska spoke about mindfulness being the attunement of breath and body, the dropping into awareness, the self observing without judgement and provides many more examples and guided exercises in her amazing book. She discussed how the act of gardening and being truly present in the now is something she uses as one of her examples with her clients. I shared with her my experience of recommending meditation to a teen with ADHD, “Meditation is a trigger word for me Dr. McDermott. I cannot imagine sitting still that long ever.” When I started discussing the importance of finding your own “mindfulness style” with the teen her ears perked up. I spoke with her about how a mindfulness mantra of ‘be loving, be kind,’ was my go to phrase throughout the day and served as a “reset” into the now moment. She was relieved and said, “I thought chanting ‘OM’ sitting for an extended period of time was the only way to do this!” She decided that ‘be calm and kind’ was going to be her reset back into the now if she became too cerebral or began to ruminate or get distracted. Dr. Zylowska and I both agreed that it is important to find your own meditation and mindfulness style.
Being healthy and well requires a level of physical and emotional awareness for all of us. The act of sitting in silence or paying attention to our breath can seem overwhelming with all of our modern day interruptions that we face each day. When we are able to be in the now our ability to pay attention on a multidimensional level allows us to thrive. The long-term benefits of a mindfulness practice include reduced anxiety, improved mood, increased focus, improved cognition, broadened self awareness and more!
There are many tools out there to start a regular practice of mindfulness and meditation. Many of my patients love the headspace app which you can find on www.headspace.com. It really is “meditation made simple.” The integration of mindfulness has started in elementary schools across the United States thanks to Goldie Hawn’s Mind UP program. If your school district is interested in an integration of mindfulness into their curriculum you can direct them to: (thehawnfoundation.org/mindup). You can also order Dr. Zylowska’s book, which includes mindfulness exercises: www.lidiazylowska.com/book. There are many other tools on-line, classes to explore and you can also check out what your community has to offer!
I prescribe mindfulness as part of every mental health thrive plan for children, teens and adults.
When our children (adults included too!) are aware of how their bodies and mind feel they are self aware which can foster self-love and wellbeing. The parents and kids in my practice often here me say, “You need to be your own best friend.” I believe that self awareness and self love lead to a compassionate awareness, a “heartfulness.” When individuals thrive our society thrives.
Thank you Dr. Zylowska for being a guest this week, it was an inspiring interview on mindfulness.
Listen here: Dr. Lidia Zylowska Interview on The Dr. Denise Show
-It is never too late or too early to start your mindfulness practice.
-Being self aware coupled with compassion leads to “heartfulness.”
-The benefits of mindfulness are endless: improved focus, improved mood, reduced stress, increased creativity, improved cognition, a greater self awareness and more.
So what are you waiting for? Find your mindfulness style. Doctor’s orders!