GP Stress Reduction article in the Irish Medical Times

This article written by Debbie Correll was published in the Irish Medical Times on March 8th, 2012

Dear Editor,

I very much welcome Dr Richard Gavin’s questioning of the use of mindfulness as a stress reduction method (IMT, Feb 24, 2012, http://bit.ly/xqd43c), but there are some clear misunderstandings in his opinion that may well prevail and or/raise concern, which are important to clarify.
Firstly, the use of mindfulness-based clinical applications in the newly-emerging field of integrative medicine is firmly rooted in evidence-based practice. Whilst there is a definite lineage of Eastern philosophy in mindfulness-based interventions, there is also an equal integration of Western sciences (medicine and psychology). It is the programmes therefore, not mindfulness itself, that construct this useful synthesis between East and West.
Secondly, mindfulness is simply a generic and secular state that describes a level of immediate awareness and consciousness that all human beings have to some degree or another.

Quintessentially, most clinical applications using mindfulness philosophy/practice as part of their curriculum architecture have a central mechanism of action: mindfulness meditation practices are used to augment these natural levels of awareness beyond their current scope.
This creates the capacity for greater insight — and thus, the opportunity to respond proactively and with clarity — the essential antidote for insidious conditions like burnout.

Giving people the tools to engage in this kind of intrepid mind-body system exploration is at the very heart of new paradigms of preventative medicine and participatory healthcare models. Dr Gavin raises a concern that ‘mindfulness’ leaves the mind susceptible, detached and/or out of control of rational thought, yet neuroscientific evidence clearly indicates the converse.
The proliferation of studies withstanding scientific rigor have increased exponentially over the past number of years. It is not clear from Dr Gavin’s opinion where he is drawing his conclusions from as no references are cited, but I will gladly thoroughly inquire into any he may care to provide.

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