We are no strangers to stress. Our bodies are often in a fight or flight response even when there is no immediate danger. This is what is unique about being human—we can turn on the stress response simply by thinking about a stressful situation (like our never-ending daily to-do list). Clinical psychologist Neda Gould, Ph.D., teaches mindfulness meditation as a tool to combat stress.
“Mindfulness meditation is a form of present-moment awareness that can be cultivated with practice,” she says. “Research shows that mindfulness meditation reduces stress, anxiety, depression and pain, and improves our overall well-being.”
Dr. Gould learned how to teach mindfulness in 2008, when she was working with burn patients. Her clinical work and research focus on how mindfulness training can improve the well-being of patients with various medical and psychiatric illnesses.
Want to try mindfulness for yourself? The following two-minute meditation is a great way to start incorporating these skills into your daily life. Take a breath, relax your shoulders, and spend a few minutes doing nothing more than looking at this picture.
“To practice this type of meditation, begin by looking at the image broadly, noticing colors, textures, depth and shading,” says Dr. Gould. “Then take a moment to focus on a particular part of the photo and explore these same components there. When thoughts take you away from the image, just gently return to what you see."