Dr. Thamarai Moorthy answers your questions about mindfulness.
In April, CPA Assist and Lawyers Assist hosted a joint webinar series on COVID-19. The aim of the series was to provide accountants and lawyers with additional information and resources to help navigate the well-being challenges and issues associated with the pandemic.
Following the presentations, CPA Assist received a number of follow-up questions. To answer these inquires, CPA Assist caught up with the Dr. Moorthy, presenter of Mindfulness in Turbulent Times, and asked her to share her insights and thoughts.
Q: What behaviors should I expect to see change if I start practicing mindfulness?
A: Mindfulness-based practices promote psychological and physical well-being. The intention of mindfulness practices is to increase awareness and acceptance of experiences—a crucial first step in changing behaviours.
Typically, it is the avoidance of negative experiences or the attachment to positive experiences, along with the desire to change or hold on to these experiences, that lead to distress and impulsive behaviours. Increased self-awareness and acceptance of experiences results in less reactivity. This, in turn, can improve one’s ability to make healthy choices.
Through this process, mindfulness techniques can help alleviate stress, reduce anxiety and depression, improve focus and memory, and promote resilience when practiced consistently.
Q: Are meditation and mindfulness the same thing?
A: Mindfulness and meditation share many common characteristics, but are considered distinct practices. Meditation is a formal or intentional practice that typically involves coming to a seated position for period of time. There are many types of meditations:
In all its forms, the main focus of meditation is to move inward to achieve a sense of calmness and balance by emptying the mind of thoughts.
In contrast, the intention of mindfulness practices is to move inward in order to become more aware of the contents of one’s mind and to practice acceptance of experiences.
Mindfulness is also different from meditation in that it can be practiced informally anytime or anywhere.
Q: There are so many online resources related to mindfulness that it can be overwhelming. As someone just starting out, what methods, apps, teachers, books and other resources would you recommend?
A: The rapidly growing popularity of mindfulness has given rise to numerous online resources. Trying to determine the “right” resource can be overwhelming. However, this premise can help: the “right” resource is the one that is “right” for you.
It is important to first identify your intentions for wanting to learn mindfulness before exploring resources. For example, if your intention is to learn “to unplug”, then learning mindfulness practices from a book/in-person course instead of an online app or course might be appropriate. If your intention is to reduce work stress, then using an app with which you can practice at your workplace may prove beneficial.
Regardless of the resource, mindfulness, like any other skill, comes with practice. Carving out some time every day—even five minutes—to formally practice mindfulness strategies can beneficial.
Jon Kabat-Zinn has played a pivotal role in bringing mindfulness to mainstream psychology and medicine. One of his first books, “Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life,” remains an important resource in this area. “The Mindfulness Revolution: Leading Psychologists, Scientists, Artists, and Meditation Teachers on the Power of Mindfulness in Daily Life” by Barry Boyce is also a good primer. Thích Nhất Hạnh, Tara Brach, Kirsten Neff, Dan Harris, and Judson Brewer are several other prominent figures in this area. Many of these experts also offer TED Talks, online or in-person courses, and apps that can be found on their websites.
This was the first part of CPA Assist’s Q & A series with wellness experts. Watch for upcoming articles with:
- Working from Home: Fortify Your Core presenter Matt Cairns
- Resiliency in Times of Uncertainty presenter Laurence Zalmanowitz
For more information on CPA Assist webinars and events, visit cpa-assist.ca.
To book an appointment through CPA Assist call 1-855-596-4222. CPA Assist provides confidential counselling services and 24/7 crisis support to Alberta and Saskatchewan CPAs, candidates, and their immediate families.