It’s not just for New Age hippies. Big business is now recognising the power of meditation, says Louise Chunn
When you think of meditation, you think of stillness, quiet, inactivity; it’s all about stepping away from the rush of everyday life to seek spiritual peace. Right? No, actually, 21st-century mindfulness meditation may bring some of the tranquillity of this 2,500-year-old Buddhist philosophy, but it is also a means of raising your productivity, increasing your focus and keeping you healthy. In a sense, it works for work, not against it.
No one would tell an anorexic to get a grip and eat more, so why tell the helpless overweight to eat less?
A new study from University College London found that weight discrimination accounts for about 40% of the harmful psychological effects associated with obesity. Lead author of the study, Dr Sarah Jackson, thinks that the UK should have legislation to protect people against “fat shaming”, similar to our legislation on race and sex. Otherwise, we run the risk of sending out the message that it’s socially acceptable to behave in this way.
I would also ask: isn’t it time there was widespread public recognition of certain types and degrees of obesity as food disorders, which have the potential to be as complex, out of control and pernicious as anorexia? In fact, one would hope that experts in food disorders, who are dealing with everything from anorexia to binge-eating, would find this an odd question and an old one.
With any unhealthy relationship with food, there are always psychological issues..."
TOP schools are turning to psychiatrists and counsellors to help deal with a rising tide of self-harm, eating disorders, depression and suicide among pupils weighed down by exam pressure, social media and family breakdown.
Head teachers said this weekend that, as well as hiring counsellors and holding mindfulness and meditation lessons, they were working with psychiatrists and therapists at private hospitals such as the Priory clinics.
One said parents, concerned at lengthy NHS queues for mental health treatment, were paying up to £750 a day for children to be seen as inpatients at private hospitals or finding their own therapists who charge up to £100 an hour.
Bernard Trafford, headmaster of the Royal Grammar School in Newcastle upon Tyne, said he employed two full-time counsellors and mental health problems were affecting almost every school.
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Menopause specialist Dr Jane Woyka says: ‘I regularly see women in tears because they wrongly believe they are developing dementia.’
Doctors call this condition nominal aphasia — a temporary state caused by receptors in the brain being deprived of oestrogen.
Most women report their memory returns to normal once fluctuating oestrogen levels have settled. Lifestyle changes to improve sleep and reduce stress can help.
Mindfulness — a simple form of meditation — may also be of use.
A recent U.S. study found that just two weeks of mindfulness training was enough to improve cognitive performance.