The practice of psychiatry is entering an era of unprecendented change. With the discovery of neuuroplasticity - the ability of the human brain to change its structure and the way it works the traditional concepts of mental illness are now in question. As a psychiatrist working in the field of pregancy, relationships and parenting for over two decades, it has been a very rewarding challenge to help people take advantage of these exciting techniques whilst at the same time finding ways in which the use of medication can be kept to a minimum.
Emotional resilience, happiness and the ability to build strong and nourishing relationships is now available to anyone who is prepared to step off the treadmill of a life on automatic pilot and learn from the science and practice of flourishing.
Catalyst (ABC)Meditation - How does it work?
In this Catalyst program Dr Graham Phillips investigates how meditation can alter not only the structure of our brain and how it works, but also the health of our physical body and the genes within our cells which determine how quickly we age.
Catalyst - The science of meditation - Can it really change you?
Habits of the mind and happiness
Willoughby Britton is a scientist at Brown University. In this talk, she explains why the most powerful way to change the brain is not with medication, but by changing behaviour. There is now no doubt that the more we practice certain emotions the stronger they get. In fact it seems that the strong habits of self-criticism seen in modern society appear to be very closely linked to rising levels of depression. Professor Britton suggests that happiness is more related to the mental habits which we practice, and skills we can learn.
Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) course interview with Jon Kabat-Zinn
This video which is now over 20 years old, has long been part of the training course for teachers of mindfulness. Professor Jon Kabat-Zinn’s work began over 3 decades ago when he established the Stress Reduction Clinic at Massachusetts General Hospital, and broke new ground in the management of pain and physical illness.
As a result of the success of this program (Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction), many other specialist programs of mindfulness have evolved for the treatment of various emotional disorders, sleep disorders, cancer and pain. One of the most important aspects of this video is the demonstration of the vital role the teacher plays in supporting this often challenging task of learning how to bring mindfulness into life in a meaningful way.
In the second part of the film a psychiatrist presents the findings of research into group therapy for people who are suffering from terminal cancer. This was the beginning of decades of research demonstrating how important it is to be able to process our emotions – with clear benefits for both physical and emotional well-being.
Mind wandering - how harmless is it ?
As humans, we have a unique ability to be not in the present moment. We can daydream about a future holiday or a job we might like to get, and in a similar way we can bring back to life memories of enjoyable experiences. So at least in theory, our capacity to daydream could potentially help us escape boredom or worry and allow us to feel happier.
But research actually suggests that overall mind-wandering is a cause of unhappiness. This research also suggests that on average people are mind-wandering almost half of the time they are awake.
In this TED talk Matt Killingworth describes how research using an app designed to measure happiness revealed important understandings about this common habit of mind wandering and how it can affect our quality of life in quite profound ways.
"What do we really know about Happiness - a 75 year Harvard University study"
In this TED talk, Robert Waldinger a Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, discusses the outcome of one of the most significant research projects that have ever been conducted into the study of human flourishing.
Over a 75 year period the study followed the progress of 724 men over the course of their lives. These men came from two broad groups – young boys from Boston’s poorest neighbourhood and young men attending Harvard University.
At regular intervals these men and their families were interviewed, and there was also a thorough monitoring of physical well-being which involved not only physical examinations but brain scans and blood tests.
The findings were compelling. The one clear factor associated with happiness in old age, good physical health and optimal brain function was the presence of close relationships.
Professor Waldinger explained that at the beginning of the study the majority of participants said that they thought they would be most likely to be happy in life if they had a high income or were famous.
Decades later it became obvious that neither of these two factors were significantly correlated with happiness, physical health and brain function. The study also showed that it is not the number of people we have around us that really counts, but how close we are to friends and family.
How is your relationship with your phone going ?
You send a text message to 20 friends, asking them to a barbeque to celebrate your birthday. For the next few days you monitor your phone. 24 hours later you have had only six replies. One from a friend you haven’t seen for a year. It reads “Can’t make it, sorry. Smiley face icon”. What do you think? Perhaps she’s busy? Perhaps she’s not that busy, but actually not really interested in catching up?
Communicating by text, email and social media has become a way of life, but is there a down side?
In this TED talk Professor Sherry Turkle suggests that we should understand how these new ways of communicating might affect closeness in our relationships.
The Body Keeps the Score - Dr Bessel Van Der Kolk
Research into how the human brain processes traumatic experiences is transforming the psychiatric treatment not only of PTSD but many other conditions which have previously not responded well to traditional psychiatric treatments of therapy and medication.
Anger - how to better understand and work with one of our most painful emotions.
In mindfulness training it is essential to pay attention to emotion. It can be so easy to use the skills as a way of trying to get rid of thoughts or feelings we don't want, but most of us know intuitively it is not that easy to side step the challenging aspects of life.
In this TED talk Professor Russell Kolts talks about his own journey with anger which emerged when his son was a baby. In this TED talk he explores ways to skillfully calm such difficult emotions and describes how he is now using these techniques in his work with men in prison.
As a parent, it can be all too easy to live life on automatic pilot - fulfilling one demand after another while missing out on much of the journey. And though you can't control every situation, you can influence the outcome by learning to change how you react.
Dr. Diana Korevaar, a practising perinatal psychiatrist, uses mindfulness practice as a powerful tool to help parents calm down, connect and reframe the challenges they face in order to experience life more positively.
Grounded in science, Mindfulness for Mums and Dads features dozens of case studies, as well as simple mindfulness practices that can be carried out anywhere. These are practical tools for anyone seeking to actively engage in their own recovery from anxiety or depression, or for those no longer content to 'just exist' in life, hoping that things will get better in the future.
In as little as three minutes a day, it is possible to take control of your life, become calmer and more compassionate, and be fully present for the small moments in life that create true and lasting happiness.
Proven strategies for calming down and connecting.
By Dr Diana Korevaar
Buy online from:-
Media articles and radio interviews with Diana Korevaar
Diana talks about her book "Mindfulness for Mums and Dads"
ABC Drive with Jolene Laverty
Duration: 17min 3sec
Broadcast: Thu 13 Apr 2017, 3:00pm
Published: Fri 14 Apr 2017, 11:50am
Sydney Morning Herald with Sarah Berry
"The skill that can help mums and dads to calm down and reconnect"
Published: 4 Apr 2017
Canberra Times by Karen Hardy
"Mindfulness for busy mums and dads"
Published: 11 Apr 2017
Kids Book Review by Shaye Wardrop
"Review: Mindfulness for mums and dads"
Published: 12 Apr 2017
Luke and Susie Podcast on iTunes
Episode 308: Psychiatrist Dr Diana Korevaar on using mindfulness practices to help parents calm down and connect
Published: 31 March 2017
Most of the time we experience life through the filter of a constant flow of thoughts. Connecting to body sensations helps provide an anchor for attention, allowing us to connect more directly and completely to the present moment. As we become more aware of sensations within the body, we build a more finely tuned awareness of our emotions.
Imagine the qualities of a beautiful and majestic mountain. Whatever changes the weather brings it remains still, grounded and strong. Using imagery in meditation can be a powerful way of transforming emotions, building a capacity for inner strength and calm when fear, irritability or worry threaten to overwhelm us.
We can easily slip into patterns of self criticism, pushing ourselves to do better. However it is becoming clear that training and building nerve cell networksfor compassion helps us access inner strength and wisdom more effectively, allowing us to find deeper meaning and purpose when life circumstances challenge us.
Breath & Body
We can use to learn the breath as a refuge. When stress is dominating the activity of the mind, breathing is typically shallow and rapid. Learning how to ground attention in body sensations, allowing the breath to slow down and soften brings about changes which stabilise the mind and reduce the intensity of the stress response.
Making time to use this brief structured practice throughout the day helps integrate mindfulness into daily life. It is a way of stepping out of "automatic pilot" and settling a scattered and busy mind.
Sounds & Thoughts
In order to spend less time caught up in thinking, planning and going over what has already happened, we need to become more aware of thoughts as they arise. Paying attention to how sounds arise and pass, we come to see how thoughts also come and go. As we practicesimply watching our thoughts it becomes easier to step aside from a story-line or worry which might otherwise draw us in .
Dr Diana Korevaar