Back in college, I took a class about Eastern religion. At the time, I was pretty stressed, overloaded with coursework and internship hours. But in that class, I learned about something called mindfulness. And what I learned helped me get through the stresses of that very busy time.
Maryanna Klatt came to TEDxColumbus to talk about dealing with stress using a version of this Eastern mindfulness. And her approach is a little less Eastern religion and a little more practical psychology.
Klatt relays this interesting tidbit: construction workers at OSU have to do yoga while on the job. And not for aspirational reasons: accident numbers go down when these workers spend time focused on mindfulness training.
The allusion to yoga is not an accident. Klatt is a yoga instructor, and yoga has its origins in the Eastern approach to mindfulness that I learned in my class in college. Klatt’s spin is that yoga is only part of the picture: proper stress reduction also takes community, re-framing the stress with mindfulness, and stress-reducing musical cues. The combination of these aspects is a practical plan for stress reduction.
That practical aspect is the one that Klatt specializes in. In fact, her talk was also a training exercise in mindfulness. Near the start of the talk, she asked audience members to envision the things that stress us. She kept asking the audience to think about what stresses them and why. She finished with an actual demonstration of the mindfulness process, complete with yoga and relaxing music.
According to Klatt, the mindfulness aspect of the relaxation exercise is the key. Mindfulness means paying attention to the things that stress us out and realizing that we have control over those things.
The kicker here is that Klatt not only teaches yoga, but she has the clinical data to show that patients who engage in her mindfulness techniques benefit from them. They report feeling better, but tests also show that their bodies are responding to the training. (The program is also working in Denmark, apparently.)
That’s what really hooked me here. It’s sometimes hard to get behind mindfulness as an exercise when it doesn’t seem supported by science or clinical observation. But Klatt is here to tell us that, not only has she observed her mindfulness training working, she’s also documented it using data.
The bottom line: mindfulness reduces stress. Klatt showed the data to prove it; TEDxColumbus attendees have had the experience.