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Mindful : August 2017
Things that spark our minds, touch our hearts, make us smile— or roll our eyes. Keep up with the latest in mindfulness. Top of Mind Take a Tree Bath The Japanese belief that their practice of “forest bathing” is good for body and mind now has some scientific backing. For eight years, researchers in Japan studied the physiological and psychological effects of spending time among trees, and found it significantly improves immune function, low- ers stress, and reduces hostility and depression. “ Forest environments can be viewed as therapeutic landscapes,” they concluded. More Resilience, Less Reactivity Many of us worry about our health, finances, employment, or relationships, but for those of us with generalized anxiety disorder, worrying like this can be both physically and emotionally exhausting. Might mindfulness help? According to a new study, the answer may be “yes.” Seventy adults with a history of generalized anxiety disorder attended either an eight-week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduc- tion class or an attention control class. (Read our account of a reporter’s experience of MBSR, “The 8-Week Journey to Now,” on page 44.) Before and after training, par- ticipants were asked to perform a stress test that involved deliver- ing an eight-minute speech and solving math problems out loud in front of a group of evaluators wearing white coats and bran- dishing clipboards. Researchers collected blood samples from the participants before and after these tests to assess whether there were changes in several known biologi- cal markers of stress. The blood tests revealed that MBSR group members experi- enced significantly less stress compared to individuals in the control group, whose stress lev- els tended to spike in anticipation of the test. This suggests that mindfulness meditation may make us more resilient and less reactive in the face of real-world challenges. 12 mindful August 2017 what’s new PHOTOGRAPHSBYDAVEROBINSON