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About Laurie Hallihan and Mindfulness

What is Minding the Waves?

Minding the Waves provides experiential education to anyone who is interested in finding new ways to lower stress and handle many of life's challenges life though mindfulness, meditation and compassion. Our goal is to provide instruction to all members of the world's communities.

About Mindfulness

Mindfulness is being fully aware of each moment in time and allowing that moment to be exactly as it is without judgment. Exploring all sensations and emotions both inside and outside your body and facing them with compassion and non-judgment.

Benefits of Mindfulness

Studies have shown mindfulness can benefit people against many conditions,  both physical and mental.  These can include irritable bowel syndrome, fibromyalgia, psoriasis, anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder, to name a few. Researchers theorize that mindfulness meditation promotes cognitive awareness, decreases thought rumination increases working memory. These cognitive gains, in turn, contribute to effective emotion-regulation strategies.

More specifically, research on mindfulness has identified these benefits:

  • Reduced thought rumination: Several studies have shown that mindfulness reduces thought rumination. In one study, for example, Chambers et al. (2008) asked 20 novice meditators to participate in a 10-day intensive mindfulness meditation retreat. After the retreat, the meditation group had significantly higher self-reported mindfulness and a decreased negative affect compared with a control group. They also experienced fewer depressive symptoms and less thought rumination. In addition, the meditators had significantly better working memory capacity and were better able to sustain attention during a performance task compared with the control group.

  • Stress reduction. Many studies show that practicing mindfulness reduces stress. In 2010, Hoffman et al. conducted a meta-analysis of 39 studies that explored the use of mindfulness-based stress reduction and mindfulness-based cognitive therapy. The researchers concluded that mindfulness-based therapy may be useful in altering affective and cognitive processes that underlie multiple psychological issues.Those findings are consistent with evidence that mindfulness meditation increases positive affect and decreases anxiety and negative affect. In one study, participants randomly assigned to an eight-week mindfulness-based stress reduction group were compared with controls on self-reported measures of depression, anxiety and psychopathology.  The researchers found that the participants who experienced mindfulness-based stress reduction had significantly less anxiety, depression and somatic distress compared with the control group. These findings suggest that mindfulness meditation shifts people's ability to use emotion regulation strategies in a way that enables them to experience emotion selectively, and that the emotions they experience may be processed differently in the brain (Farb et al., 2010; Williams, 2010).

  • Boosts to working memory. Improvements to working memory appear to be another benefit of mindfulness, research finds. A 2010 study by Jha et al., for example, documented the benefits of mindfulness meditation among a military group who participated in an eight-week mindfulness training, a nonmeditating military group and a group of nonmeditating civilians. Both military groups were in a highly stressful period before deployment. The researchers found that the nonmeditating military group had decreased working memory capacity over time, whereas working memory capacity among nonmeditating civilians was stable across time. Within the meditating military group, however, working memory capacity increased with meditation practice. In addition, meditation practice was directly related to self-reported positive affect and inversely related to self-reported negative affect.

  • Focus. Another study examined how mindfulness meditation affected participants' ability to focus attention and suppress distracting information. The researchers compared a group of experienced mindfulness meditators with a control group that had no meditation experience. They found that the meditation group had significantly better performance on all measures of attention and had higher self-reported mindfulness. Mindfulness meditation practice and self-reported mindfulness were correlated directly with cognitive flexibility and attention function(Moore and Malinowski, 2009).

  • Less emotional reactivity. Research also supports the notion that mindfulness meditation decreases emotional reactivity. In a study of people who had anywhere from one month to 29 years of mindfulness meditation practice, researchers found that mindfulness meditation practice helped people disengage from emotionally upsetting pictures and enabled them to focus better on a cognitive task as compared with people who saw the pictures but did not meditate (Ortner et al., 2007).

  • More cognitive flexibility. Another line of research suggests that in addition to helping people become less reactive, mindfulness meditation may also give them greater cognitive flexibility. One study found that people who practice mindfulness meditation appear to develop the skill of self-observation, which neurologically disengages the automatic pathways that were created by prior learning and enables present-moment input to be integrated in a new way (Siegel, 2007a).

  • Relationship satisfaction. Several studies find that a person's ability to be mindful can help predict relationship satisfaction — the ability to respond well to relationship stress and the skill in communicating one's emotions to a partner. Empirical evidence suggests that mindfulness protects against the emotionally stressful effects of relationship conflict (Barnes et al., 2007).

These are excerpts from a small sampling of the research done on mindfulness.  There have been thousands of research studies done regarding the topic of mindfulness and its benefits for human beings.

About Laurie

Laurie Hallihan mindfulness and mediation teacher

I began practicing meditation over 30 years ago. While it did help the sometimes debilitating depression I suffered from, I found I was inconsistent with my practice. It was not until 2012, when I developed Fibromyalgia and hip dysplasia in both of my hips that caused me severe limitations in daily activities, like walking, that I knew I had to make a change. I found a therapist who specialized in mindfulness therapy and she recommended me looking into University of California, San Diego’s Center for Mindfulness. The first class I took was Mindful Self-Compassion and it changed my life. Every part of my body and mind told me that this was the way of experiencing true change in my life.  I took several more classes at UCSD and quickly realized that I wanted to share the insights I found through my mindfulness practice with other people who might find it helpful. Mindfulness changed and continues to change my life in profound and unexpected ways.

​Through my career of 34 years, I have interacted with people of all backgrounds at various states of stress and trauma . I bring this life experience to my teaching.  My ability to significantly relate to and have compassion for ALL people is one of the more substantial aspects of my teaching style. I enjoy using humor when appropriate to remind ourselves not to take things too seriously. I am passionate about helping facilitate my student’s highest potential in mindfulness. I honor the differences between humans, while acknowledging our common humanity.

I am University of California, San Diego Certified Mindful Based Stress Reduction teacher. I have also completed David Treleaven's Complete Trauma Sensitive Mindfulness training.  This training enhanced my ability to help people who may be suffering with traumatic experiences in their lives. 

Laurie Hallihan Certified Mindfulness meditation teacher

My Life Experiences

  • Facing debilitating depression and anxiety and coming out the other side of it

  • Meeting chronic pain and illness with mindfulness and compassion.

  • Facing past trauma.

  • High level work stresses

  • Having to adjust to significant changes in my career that impact myself and my employees.

  • Being an employee myself and then transitioning to running a business myself and having employees.

  • Extensive experience of helping people in traumatic situations.

  • Struggles with food issues.

  • Having aging parents.

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