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Mindfulness therapy is no fad, experts say

There is solid evidence that mindfulness therapy, which combines elements of Buddhism and yoga, can relieve anxiety and improve mood.

January 08, 2011|By Chris Woolston, Special to the Los Angeles Times

Segal adds that mindfulness treatment changes the relationship people have with their emotions, so much so that shifts in brain activity even show up in magnetic resonance imaging tests.

"When your mind has a thought, such as, 'My colleague just insulted me at the office,' you can explore the consequences of that thought," he said. "Thoughts have a less intense grip because you are an observer."

Hofmann said most patients could pick up mindfulness fairly easily, but it's not for everyone.

"It takes quite a bit of intelligence," he said. "It's good for people who like intellectual stimulation."

In addition, children, older people (who tend to be more set in their ways) and rigid thinkers may have trouble understanding or embracing the treatment, he said.

Hofmann hopes that the ongoing flood of mindfulness studies will help clarify the benefits and limitations of the approach and ultimately shape the way that the therapy is offered in the real world.

"Some therapists embrace these new and sexy treatments without a lot of critical thinking because they sound cool," he said.

health@latimes.com

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