I have been reflecting on my work within healthcare and how mindfulness is an integral part of mind-body research. Jon Kabat-Zinn, founder of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program in healthcare, has played a pivotal role in the rise of integrative medicine.
The American Board of Integrative Medicine defines integrative medicine as:
"the practice of medicine that reaffirms the importance of the relationship between practitioner and patient, focuses on the whole person, is informed by evidence, and makes use of all appropriate therapeutic approaches, healthcare professionals, and disciplines to achieve optimal health and healing."
Integrative medicine strives to address all aspects of a person’s health by considering more than just the physiological symptoms. According to physician Dr. Andrew Weil, one of the defining principles of Integrative Medicine is “the consideration of all factors that influence health, wellness, disease – including mind, body and spirit.” As such, integrative medicine practitioners incorporate treatments that are more holistic and include research-based practices such as mindfulness.
Ongoing research in integrative medicine continues to show that mindfulness has a positive impact on the mind and body. For example, mindfulness practices have been shown to increase immune function and reduce anxiety, depression and pain. The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health cites research that has been done into the use of meditation in treating irritable bowel syndrome.
In my work with the physicians of Drexel Emergency Medicine and Crozer Keystone, I have seen how helpful mindfulness can be in developing increased resilience. As more healthcare professionals personally integrate mind-body practices into their daily work, integrative medicine becomes a more natural way of patient care.