What is Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction ?
As Jon Kabat-Zinn creator of MBSR explains: 'Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) is a well-defined and systematic patient-centered educational approach which uses relatively intensive training in mindfulness meditation as the core of a program to teach people how to take better care of themselves and live healthier and more adaptive lives. The prototype program was developed at the Stress Reduction Clinic at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center.'
Essentially over the course of an MBSR course we are given skills to appreciate the present moment and learn of many of the things that can influence and corrupt it. It is within the full catastophe of all that may be here, be it good or bad, negative or positive, welcome or unwelcome that we learn to recognise that all we ever have is here and now.
Skills we develop include those that help us to recognise how reality can be misrepresented by what our mind generates and how we may then learn to respond more mindfully to what is present and adjust our perspective if it may be preferable.
The Seven Attitudes of Mindfulness
There are seven attitudes of mindfulness that we come to understand and work with, both to experience them and to test their validity. Each of these can clearly have an opposite literal meaning and many more besides. We work on coming to a helpful understanding for ourselves of each of these seven and see how they may help us when we come to manage each present moment mindfully.
The personal therapeutic processes, where we more directly address our stresses and concerns are raised only after a foundation of some weeks of understanding what mindfulness is and how we may practise being present more of the time. Our first weeks introduce the role of the physical body in the practise of body scan, that of breath and concentration in breathing meditation and in combination mindful yoga, where simple stretches and movements help us embody mindfulness.
Our personal experience is expressed in enquiry. This is where we become increasingly comfortable to share our developing understanding of what the course brings to us. There are no right or wrong answers in a mindfulness course and no one ever will tell you what to believe or what to think. This is how we work as a group allowing our insights to grow as we go.
By the time we conclude after eight weeks we hope to have gained an ability to be present and understand that by doing so we may benefit heal and repair.
Who Can Benefit From MBSR?
UMass Medical School, Center for Mindfulness have proven MBSR complements treatment for:
- Anxiety, Gastro-Intestinal Distress, Work, Family, and Financial Stress, Grief, Asthma, Headache
Cancer, Heart Disease, Chronic Illness and Pain, High Blood Pressure, Depression, Panic Attacks,
Eating Problems, PTSD, Fatigue, Skin Disorders, Fibromyalgia, Sleep Problems.
MBSR Course Structure
- Group Pre-program Orientation Sessions
- Eight-weekly classes 2.0 hours in duration
- An all-day silent retreat during the sixth week of the program
- Formal Mindfulness Meditation Methods:
- Body Scan Meditation - a supine meditation
- Gentle Hatha Yoga - practiced with mindful awareness of the body
- Sitting Meditation - mindfulness of breath, body, feelings, thoughts, emotions, and choiceless awareness
- Walking Meditation
- Informal Mindfulness Meditation Practices (mindfulness in everyday life): Awareness of pleasant and unpleasant events
- Awareness of breathing
- Deliberate awareness of routine activities and events such as: eating, weather, driving, walking, awareness of interpersonal communications
- Daily home assignments including a minimum of 45 minutes per day of formal mindfulness practice and 5-15 minutes of informal practice, 6 days per week for the entire duration of the course.