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Reducing stress through mindfulness

‘Mitigating Stress Through Mindfulness’

An evening with Geshe Lobsang Tsultrim Tuesday, Aug. 30 Outpatient Conference Rooms 110-130 Dignity Health Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital RSVP to (530) 274-6816.

Stress is a modern fact of life, and it could have serious negative effects on your health.

In fact, 43 percent of all adults suffer negative effects on their health because of stress, and 75-90 percent of all doctor’s office visits are for stress-related ailments and complaints, according to WebMD.com.

Some types of stress can be positive and push you to achieve goals, such as being given greater responsibilities or getting a job promotion. But when a person faces continuous challenges without relief or relaxation, they could begin to experience mounting stress-related tension.

Dr. Brian Evans, Chief Medical Officer of Dignity Health Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital (SNMH), says that stress is associated with a variety of serious health consequences including anxiety, depression, heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure and decreased immune function.

In addition, a number of diseases are worsened by the effects of stress.

“Many patients ignore the effect of stress on their physical and emotional health, and they are often poorly equipped to manage it,” Evans said. “Worse still, many patients self-medicate with alcohol and other drugs to manage their stress, and this exacerbates the situation.”

Fortunately, there are some very effective tools that can help manage stress and help all of us live healthier lives. For some people, simply talking to a friend, going for a walk or spending some time in nature can have a huge impact on their stress levels.

“Almost every kind of exercise is extremely beneficial, elevating the mood, and releasing helpful endorphins. Meditation is an outstanding stress reliever and many people are finding mindfulness to be a particularly useful form of meditation,” Evans suggested. “Also, don’t forget the obvious — turn off the television and take a walk outside. It’ll do wonders.”

Mindfulness meditation is simply sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing, and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future. The practice has increased in popularity in recent years as an effective stress reduction method, as well as a way to learn to be unconditionally present in each moment.

According to an article in Harvard Health Publications, a recent study by Dr. Elizabeth Hoge found that a mindfulness-based stress reduction program helped quell anxiety symptoms in people with generalized anxiety disorder, a condition marked by hard-to-control worries, poor sleep, and irritability.

Mindfulness is something all of us can use to help address the effects of stress in our own lives. The community is invited to learn more at a mindfulness seminar from 6-7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 30 at SNMH featuring Buddhist philosophy teacher Geshe Lobsang Tsultrim.

“Geshe” is an educational degree that is earned after between 12 to 40 years of intensive study and passing the highest level exams. It is the monastic equivalent of a western Ph.D. degree.

Geshe Tsultrim is originally from eastern Tibet and began his monastic studies in India in 1986 at the Gaden Shartse Monastery. He has taught both Buddhist philosophy and traditional Tibetan artistry for many years and has lived in the Grass Valley/Auburn area for the past 15 years.

At the seminar, Tsultrim will discuss how reducing one’s stress has been shown to benefit both the physical body and the mind. He will share Buddhist philosophy and practices including meditation and mindfulness as a way to ease stress and create happiness instead of suffering.

According to Tsultrim, when the mind is negative, it is dealing with challenging feelings such as anger, desire, and attachment. He will explain how mindfulness is more than simply meditation; it is “watching” what the mind is doing at all times.

“The physical health is important, but the mental health is equally important,” Tsultrim said. “Your mental health is directly connected to your physical health, therefore you must make the mind healthy before the body can be fully well.”

All physicians providing care for patients at SNMH are members of the medical staff and are independent practitioners, not employees of the hospital.