Massage & Bodywork

JULY | AUGUST 2017

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96 m a s s a g e & b o d y w o r k j u l y / a u g u s t 2 0 1 7 technique MYOFASCIAL TECHNIQUES Mindfulness, Myofascia, and Manual Therapy Fad Versus Function By Til Luchau Mindfulness comes down to one straightforward question: "Is my attention on something happening right now?" Simple. But if it's that simple, does mindfulness really do everything it claims to do? If you believe the popular media, mindfulness can address everything from depression and stress to immune system disorders, addiction, chronic pain, posttraumatic stress disorder, anxiety, indecision, poor leadership, lost productivity, low emotional intelligence, cognitive bias, insomnia, and bad exam scores. And how did mindfulness get so popular? It has been featured on the cover of Time magazine. 1 Large companies from Silicon Valley (such as Google, Twitter, and Facebook) to Wall Street (Goldman Sachs) to Main Street (General Mills, Aetna) now have "corporate mindfulness initiatives." And, on the talk-show circuit, mindfulness has been endorsed by dozens of celebrities, including Oprah Winfrey and Deepak Chopra (naturally), but also by Angelina Jolie, Kobe Bryant, Ohio Congressman Tim Ryan, and Ivanka Trump. 2 For many of us, panacean assertions and faddish popularity can themselves make something suspect. But while there are good reasons to be skeptical about many of the claims made for mindfulness, there could also be good reasons for the popularity of mindfulness, however frivolous it might seem. For example, could it be that mindfulness is so popular because we so commonly suffer from mindlessness? Could our hurried, fragmented, task-driven, device-centered lifestyles— punctuated by escape into stimulating but unsatisfying social media, entertainment, and sensational sound bites—leave us with an unsatisfied hunger for the subtle, wholesome nourishment of direct experience, a longing for simplicity and calm, and a way in, rather than just a way to escape? (Interestingly, could these be some of the same reasons people seek out massage and bodywork?) And though mindfulness has clearly been oversold as a cure-all, there is a rapidly growing body of evidence (see table below) that this simple practice can yield surprising benefits in a range of applications. 3 Though research on mindfulness is subject to the same concerns and As fleetingly faddish as the current popularity of mindfulness can make it seem, the academic and scientific interest in its therapeutic benefits and applications shows no signs of diminishing. This graph shows the recent surge in randomized controlled trials of mindfulness interventions (as reported by J. D. Creswell, "Mindfulness Interventions," in the Annual Review of Psychology 68 (January 3, 2017): 491–516. 2012–2015 2009–2012 2006–2009 2003–2006 2000–2003 1997–2000 1994–1997 50 100 150 200 250 Number of Randomized Controlled Trials About Mindfulness in PubMed

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