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When OTs Wore White Shoes

Mindfulness and OT

Published August 17, 2015 10:05 AM by Debra Karplus
Mindfulness is popular these days. It seems that many conversations I have with people turns toward the subject of mindfulness. People are heading to mindfulness training, workshops, and even retreats. I find it interesting that many of these folks are some of the most neurotic people that I know. But, when I think about it, that really does make sense. Perhaps they need to become more mindful than other people might!

Given the popularity of people striving to be more mindful, I thought I'd better look up to see exactly what mindfulness is. But I quickly discovered that mindfulness isn't much more than I originally thought; that is, simply being focused and being in the moment. But I found that there are experts in mindfulness and various different techniques, so perhaps there is a bit more to it than my simplified definition.

Admittedly, I could truly benefit from some mindfulness training. I pride myself in my ability to multi-task, which, when you think about it, is the exact opposite of mindfulness. For example, I can carry a tub of laundry down the stairs while talking on the phone; but one time I tripped and fell while doing that. And I am certain that sometimes when I am talking with someone whether face-to-face or on the phone, they can tell that I am "not really present", and am preoccupied with some completely different subject or task. I have been confronted on that one more than a few times.

Or when I am practicing yoga, I am often thinking about the errands that I will do when the session ends, about my grocery list, or pondering what to cook for dinner. That's not exactly in sync with the principles of yoga, is it?

So I started to wonder how occupational therapists might use some of the principles of mindfulness. Searching online, I found that concepts of mindfulness can help with pain management, movement, overall better mental health, and other issues and problems that OTs address. But, I did not really see any specifics on how this is done.

I receive lots of snail mail here at home about professional workshops for OTs, and mostly I just put them into the recycling bin without really looking at them. That's me not being mindful again! But it is very likely that I could benefit greatly from what is offered at these sessions, especially if some of them are about mindfulness. I must pay better attention to these brochures.

So now I am curious. I would enjoy hearing from other occupational therapy practitioners as to how they have used mindfulness and mindfulness training in their clinical settings. It sounds like there is potential to help most any population that we as OTs serve, such as people in a geriatric setting, school-aged children, adults with mental retardation and people in settings for mental health.

I hope readers will post comments on this blog about their personal and professional experience with mindfulness.

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posted by Debra Karplus


Georgia, thanks for sharing.

Debbie, Advance blogger

Debra Karplus August 24, 2015 8:39 AM

Well said, Michele from Winston-Salem!

Debbie, Advance blogger

Debra Karplus August 24, 2015 8:38 AM

I believe that while teaching our clients to be mindful is beneficial to overall optimal function in daily life, the most important thing is for practitioners to be fully present and mindful themselves during treatment sessions with the individual client receiving tx during his/her tx session.

Michele Rieder, Geriatrics - COTA August 20, 2015 10:10 PM
Winston Salem NC

Two things: a book

and a series of billboards

Georgia Morgan August 17, 2015 7:44 PM
Brattleboro VT

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