WHAT IS Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR)?
In this program that is both intensive and deeply nourishing, you will learn to access and cultivate your natural capacity to actively engage in caring for yourself and find greater balance, ease, and peace of mind. MBSR uses meditation, yoga, inquiry and informal daily mindfulness practices as a way of training people to relate differently to the stresses in their lives. The central focus of MBSR is intensive training in mindfulness meditation and its integration into the challenges and adventures of everyday life.
Some of the skills people learn in MBSR courses are:
- Practical coping skills to improve the ability to handle stressful situations
- Methods for being physically and mentally more at ease
- Gentle conditioning exercises to strengthen the body and release muscular tension
- Awareness of the interplay of mind and body in health and illness, and how to work with that
- The ability to face change and difficult times with greater ease and creativity
- The freedom to truly choose one’s response, versus reacting to what comes at us
The class meets once a week for 2 ½ hours. During that time, several forms of mindfulness practice are incrementally taught, and the group discusses its experience with integrating them into daily life. Specific time is allocated to exploring topics such as communication, technology, eating, commuting, stress reactions, and more. In addition, there is a Practice Day that occurs between the 6th and 7th week of the 8-week program. In addition to the practice in a supportive classroom environment, each participant engages in 45 min to an hour of mindfulness practice daily between classes as home practice to foster the development of a new routine, as well as increased spontaneous self-care when stressors appear. This home assignment, which evolves from week to week, is a combination of formal and informal practices.
MBSR was created by Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn who founded in 1979 the Center for Mindfulness at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. It was originally developed for patients in chronic pain, undergoing intensive treatments for cancer, AIDS and other serious illness, but has since expanded and been incorporated into the daily lives of ten of thousands of people, whether they are dealing with the stress of illness or the stress of daily life. Since its inception, thousands of people around the world have completed the seminal eight-week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Program, and have learned how to use their innate resources and abilities to respond more effectively to stress, pain, and illness.
(This is a short list of an ever-expanding field of scientific exploration, based on a selection by the Center for Mindfulness at Umass).
Anxiety (Hoge, Bui, Marques, Metcalf, Morris, Robinaugh, et. al., 2013)
Asthma (Pbert, Madison, Druker, Olendzki, Magner, Reed, et. al., 2012)
Cancer (Carlson, Doll, Stephen, Faris, Tamagawa, Drysdale, & Speca, 2013)
Chronic Pain (Reiner, Tibi, & Lipsitz, 2013)
Diabetes (Hartmann, Kopf, Kircher, Faude-Lang, Djuric, Augstein, et. al., 2012)
Fibromyalgia (Schmidt, Grossman, Schwarzer, Jena, Naumann, & Walach, 2011)
Gastrointestinal Disorders (Zernicke, Campbell, Blustein, Fung, Johnson, Bacon, & Carlson, 2013)
Heart Disease (Sullivan, Wood, Terry, Brantley, Charles, McGee, Johnson, et. al., 2009)
HIV (Duncan, Moskowitz, Neilands, Dilworth, Hecht, & Johnson, 2012)
Hot Flashes (Carmody, Crawford, Salmoirago-Blotcher, Leung, Churchill, & Olendzki, 2011)
Hypertension (Hughes, Fresco, Myerscough, van Dulmen, Carlson, & Josephson, 2013)
Major Depression (Chiesa & Serretti, 2011)
Mood Disorders (Hofmann, Sawyer, Witt, & Oh, 2010)
Sleep Disturbances (Andersen, Wurtzen, Steding-Jessen, Christensen, Andersen, Flyger, et. al., 2013)
Stress Disorders (Kearney, McDermott, Malte, Martinez, & Simpson, 2012)