Mindfulness and Health Care Reform

I have made some interesting acquaintances in my brief journey toward self awareness and mindfulness. One is Kelley McCabe-Ruff founder and CEO of eMindful.com, a Florida based company that offers web based mindfulness based stress reduction solutions for clients. Kelly has some great outcome data demonstrating improved health outcomes and decreased costs with mindfulness meditative practice. She and collaborators from many highly prestigious medical centers from across the US argue that the demand for technologically sophisticated and high cost medical treatments is driving ever accelerating health care expenditures in the US,while at the same time objective measures of outcome lag behind most other developed countries. Lower cost measures such as MBSR are essential as a cornerstone of primary and secondary prevention strategies. Prevention of chronic illness should lower demand for costly interventions over time, reducing costs while maintaining access to life saving treatments to those who require them.

Many interventions including diet and exercise can be viewed as preventive health measures. What makes the development of mindfulness unique? To paraphrase yoga guru Max Strom www.maxstrom.com if we want better answers we first must learn to ask better questions. Most of us know the basics of healthy living. Why then do we not consistently live in accordance with the knowledge we already have? The answer, at least in part, is that we do not live in a mindful manner and therefore are not truly in control of our choices. We are slaves to our reptilian brain.

Check out the following PDF, in which Kelley and her collaborators offer an incisive and insightful analysis of and prescription for the ailing US health care system. Also check out her company’s website at www.eMindful.com! If you are in a position of responsibility or influence within an organization consider how programs like the one Kelley offers could make your organization more effective!

Meditating with a group of environmental activists on a rocky beach on Windfall Island, at the mouth of Tebenkof Bay in the Tongass Wilderness in southeast Alaska, just off Chatham Strait and across from the snowcapped peaks of Baranov Island, none of us can but take note of how the humpback whales contribute hugely to the ambient soundscape in this pristine wilderness air as they come and go with the tides day and night between the bay and the strait. We hear the whoosh of their out-breath, long, deep, sonorous, and so basic, so ancient, it is as if we are immersed in breath sounds that have been going on uninterrupted for millions of years in the same place, which of course, they have. If we are sensitive enough, we occasionally hear the in-breaths as well, just before they dip back under. With eyes open, we can see as well as hear their out-breaths, even from quite a distance, as the white vapor geyser bursts forth high into the air with every surfacing. We feel they somehow know we are here on the beach, sitting, our eyes closed for the most part. For a time we are immersed in a world that is probably little different from the way it was five or fifteen thousand years ago or more, a vast and primordial silence, ebbing with sounds. Bald eagles cry out, ravens squawk, smaller birds on the water and in the air all contribute their various calls and cries, the waves lap at the shore, the wind blows through old-growth Sitka spruce and western hemlock temperate rain forest that has known the force of the brutal winters but never the clear-cut saw. We sit here, opening to this world, to this soundscape, to its ancient memories. Or are they certainties?

Kabat-Zinn, Ph.d, Jon (2005-01-05). Coming to Our Senses: Healing Ourselves and the World Through Mindfulness (Kindle Locations 3371-3373). Hyperion. Kindle Edition.



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