Mindfulness, Resilience, and Daily Life: An Interview with Stan Merrill

Stan Merrill is an instructor of mindfulness techniques that help people cope with stress in their careers and daily lives. In addition to working with the Jung Center audience, Stan has taught in settings such as the West University Senior Center, Houston Area Parkinson’s Society, and the Michael E. DeBakey Veterans Administration, bringing mindfulness and guided meditation for patient and employee health.

Stan believes that in our modern society, when we come across roadblocks in life, we tend to catastrophize them. “We get a red light, a traffic jam. We feel that our life is over. We take normal circumstances that everyone faces, amplify them, and exaggerate and catastrophize them. And then that leads to us having a high blood pressure, adrenaline flowing in our bodies and just an overwhelming sense of doom and stress.” If unaddressed, these little setbacks can build up the negative energy in our lives.

Stan is enthusiastic about the potential of mindfulness techniques to help people regain their balance after such roadblocks. “When we are in pain, there are two problems-it’s the bodily sensation of the pain, and it’s the catastrophizing of the pain that actually causes most of the mental distress. And mindfulness techniques can limit the mental distress. They keep their mind off of it, and it actually makes them feel better.”

When asked about how mindfulness practice can be translated back to daily life after leaving the healthcare setting, Stan responds, “I have gotten feedback from many of the students that they had learned to decrease their reactivity, where they were set a red light or traffic jam, spilling milk-all of the little things that happen to all of us all the time.”