Learn proven techniques to reduce stress in this secular 8-week MBSR classMindfulness: A Medically Sound Practice for Learning, Growing, and Healing
In 1979, Jon Kabat-Zinn founded the Stress Reduction Clinic at the University of Massachusetts to bring a form of meditation, Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), or mindfulness, to the medical mainstream.
Mindfulness is a basic human quality, a way of learning to pay attention to whatever is happening in your life that allows you a greater sense of connection to your life inwardly and outwardly. Mindfulness is also a practice, a systematic method aimed at cultivating clarity, insight, and understanding.
In the context of your health, mindfulness is a way for you to experientially learn to take better care of yourself by exploring and understanding the interplay of mind and body and mobilizing your own inner resources for coping, growing, and healing.
More than three decades of scientific research at medical centers all over the world suggests that training in mindfulness and MBSR can positively and often profoundly affect participants’ ability to reduce the stress levels of everyday life, medical symptoms and psychological distress while learning to live life more fully.
More than two decades of published research indicates that the majority of people who complete the MBSR curriculum report:
- Lasting decreases in physical and psychological symptoms
- Greater energy and enthusiasm for life
- An increased ability to relax
- Improved self-esteem
- Reductions in pain levels and an enhanced ability to cope with pain that may not go away
- An ability to cope more effectively with both short- and long-term stressful situations.
Mindfulness is a way of learning to relate directly to whatever is happening in your life, a way of taking charge of your life, a way of consciously and systematically working with your own stress, pain, illness, and the challenges and demands of everyday life.
In contrast, you’ve probably encountered moments of “mindlessness”—a loss of awareness resulting in forgetfulness, separation from self, and a sense of living mechanically. Restoring within yourself a balanced sense of health and well-being requires an increased awareness of all aspects of self, including body and mind, heart and soul. MBSR (Mindfulness- Based Stress Reduction) is intended to ignite this inner capacity and infuse your life with awareness.
Reawaken to What You Already Are
Mindfulness is not something that you have to get or acquire. It is already within you — a deep internal resource available and patiently waiting to be released and used in the service of learning, growing, and healing. While the practices have been adapted from classical Buddhist meditation and yoga traditions, MBSR is a secular, scientifically-informed approach that operates in harmony with any belief system or spiritual background.
MBSR has benefitted people with the following:
- Stress — from work, school, family, finances, illness, aging, grief, uncertainty about the future, and feeling “out of control;”
- Medical conditions — including chronic illness or pain, high blood pressure, fibromyalgia, cancer, heart disease, asthma, GI distress, skin disorders, headaches, and many other conditions;
- Psychological distress — including anxiety, panic, depression, fatigue, and sleep disturbances.
Prevention and wellness — including health enhancement and wellness — focuses on prevention and learning the how of taking care of yourself and feeling a greater sense of resilience and balance.
Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) is highly respected within the medical community. It is not offered as an alternative to traditional medical and psychological treatments but as a complement to these approaches.
My experiences over two decades suggest that doing what you can for yourself, coupled with what your physician can do for you, can be far more effective than either approach on its own.
What to Expect
The 8-week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program teaches secular mindful meditation with a goal of present moment living. The class is held for 2.5 hrs per week for 8-weeks. Participants are instructed on body posture and how to focus on the breath. They are reminded that wandering minds are normal and are encouraged to bring their mind back to the focus on their breath, non-judgmentally. Participants learn to slow down and connect with themselves and their bodies AND they learn self-compassion.
Participants are asked to meditate between classes for up to 1 hour per day.* Those that take this recommendation seriously are the ones that benefit most from this 8-week class. Upon completion of the 8-Week MBSR class, participants report noticing decreased anxiety and pain, increased mood and sleep quality, as well as improved relationships! Many also report finding more joy in life!
Some of the formal meditations included in this 8-week class are: awareness of breath/sound/thought and emotion, walking, sitting, body scan, and mindful movement.
*Allow at least 1 hour per day, 6 days per week, for informal home practices.
MBSR is not therapy and is not intended to replace individual counseling.
The next 8-week MBSR class starts Saturday, ___________, 2019, 10:30 am – 1:00 pm
The class meets for 8 consecutive Saturdays, from _______, 2019 to __________, 2019
with a retreat day on Sunday, __________2019, from 9:30 am –3:00 pm.
Two decades of published research indicate that the majority of people who complete the eight-week program report greater ability to cope more effectively with both short- and long-term stressful situations. By learning to actively participate in the management of health and well being, many participants report they are better able to manage stress, fear, anger, anxiety, and depression both at home and in the workplace.
Participants have stated that they feel less judgmental and critical of themselves, and subsequently of others. Many also report a decrease in the frequency and length of medical visits to hospitals and other professional health-care providers. There has also been a noticeable decrease in the use of prescription and non-prescription medications among students of MBSR.
People participating in the MBSR workshop come from all walks of life, but they share one thing in common: the desire to find more balance, peace, and happiness in their lives. If you share these aspirations, MBSR can be a valuable resource for you.
Here is an article from O Magazine that also explains the benefits of MBSR.
Here are the Core Sessions to Help You Create Your Own Mindfulness Practice
Orientation: this introductory session will acquaint you with the practice of mindfulness as taught at the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. You will learn how this secular, scientific, evidence-based practice has become an accepted part of mainstream medicine, and discover how it can positively affect the quality of your everyday life.
Here you will receive an overview of the course and establish the learning context for the rest of your experience. You will learn the theory and evidence of mind-body medicine and how to apply it in your life. You’ll be experientially introduced to mindful eating, mindful breathing, and the body-scan method, with a special emphasis on what it means to be fully engaged in the present moment.
Perception is key in mindfulness—how you see things (or don’t see them) will determine in a large part how you respond. This week’s session and practices will ask you to examine your perceptions, assumptions, and the way you view the world. You will learn to use the body-scan practice to cultivate a greater degree of awareness of how you react to stressful situations. Changing the way you perceive and respond to difficulties and challenges will impact the short- and long-term effects of stress on your mind and body.
In this session, you’ll practice several distinct yet interrelated mindfulness practices—mindful Hatha yoga, sitting meditation, and walking meditation. This is an ideal time to share your insights about your experiences with formal practice and integrating mindfulness into your daily life. You will discover that there is both pleasure and power in being present — you’ll directly attend to and investigate how your experiences create such reactions as pleasure or discomfort in the mind and body.
By practicing mindfulness, we cultivate curiosity and openness to the full range of our experience, and through this process, our ability to pay attention becomes more flexible. This week, your practice will focus on the development of your ability to concentrate and systematically expand your field of awareness. You’ll learn about the physiological and psychological bases of stress reactivity, and experience mindful strategies for responding in positive, proactive ways to stressful situations.
At the halfway point in this course, you should now be familiar with the foundations of mindfulness and able to focus on applying it more rapidly and effectively to specific challenges and stressors in your life. This week you will begin to pay attention to the places where you might be stuck in repeating, unhealthy patterns that you can disarm through mindful awareness. You will also learn how to apply mindfulness at the critical moment when you experience a physical sensation, intense emotion, or condition, with special attention to exploring the effect of reactivity in health and illness.
Resilience or stress hardiness is our ability to return to equilibrium after stressful situations. This week, you will focus on transformational coping strategies to broaden your inner resources and enhance your resilience through mindfulness practice. You’ll also learn the fundamentals of interpersonal mindfulness—applying awareness and presence at times when communication becomes difficult or fraught with strong emotions. You’ll gain direct experience of a variety of styles for more effective and creative interpersonal communication.
Mindfulness is most effective when it is a lifetime commitment. This week, you will explore the many ways that you can integrate mindfulness more fully and personally into your life. While having a dedicated regular practice for mindfulness meditation is important and beneficial, it is just as important to bring a broader sense of awareness and presence to every moment in your life and to use non-judgmental mindfulness in your self-reflection and decision-making processes. You’ll learn how to maintain the discipline and flexibility of daily practice as circumstances change over the course of your life.
Practice and Evaluation