Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) informs all of the teachings offered by Be Well Mindfulness. MBSR was designed to introduce participants to a range of practices associated with mindfulness.
Developed in 1979 at the University of Massachusetts, MBSR is widely accepted today as a means for helping individuals to live fuller, more healthful and satisfying lives.
While it was initially developed to offer support to patients who were not experiencing relief from traditional medical approaches to their ailments, the program has been studied extensively and found to offer a range of positive outcomes, including reduced stress, reduced mind wandering, enhanced happiness, and greater control over negative emotions.
What is Mindfulness anyway?
Jon Kabat-Zinn, the creator of the MBSR program, defines mindfulness in this way:
Paying attention in a particular way–on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.
While this definition may make mindfulness sound easy, the realities of contemporary life–with so many people, and so many devices! constantly vying for our attention–make the practice of mindfulness more challenging than ever before. Combine these continual distractions with the brain’s primitive tendencies to be forever on the lookout for danger and you soon realize just how stressful living in the 21st century can be.
The benefits of MBSR
Many people find that practicing mindfulness allows them to experience their lives in ways that are deeper, richer, and more meaningful. That’s because the MBSR practices are effective tools for managing both emotional stress and physical conditions that impact overall health and well-being. These practices enrich your overall capacity for resilience, balance and attention.
MBSR has been widely studied. The clinically proven benefits of MBSR include:
- Stress reduction—at work or at home, especially for anxiety over health issues, aging, and uncertainty about the future
- Managing symptoms and reducing suffering from medical conditions such as chronic pain, high blood pressure, heart disease, persistent headaches, and more
- Enhancing our ability to overcome psychological distress such as panic attacks, depression, fatigue, and insomnia
- Support for any preventive care, exercise, diet, and wellness plan
What to expect in an MBSR class
The traditional MBSR course consists of 9 meetings over an 8 week period. The first and last meetings are 2.5 hours to allow participants to complete pre- and post-course evaluations of their health and well-being. These evaluations are kept confidential; they are meant to help you to evaluate the effects of the program and the personal benefits you have gained from participating.
The remaining 6 weekly meetings are 2 hours long. Class meetings are devoted to the teaching and practice of various forms of mindfulness combined with discussion and investigation of the challenges and benefits of each practice.
In addition to the 8 weekly meetings, a day-long retreat allows participants to experience an extended, uninterrupted period of time with the practices. This retreat is the 9th meeting of the program and is held between the 6th & 7th weekly meetings.
Why take an MBSR class
During your MBSR class, you will learn about a variety of mindfulness practices that you can incorporate into your daily routine. You will be asked to practice on your own on a daily basis between classes and you will be given four audio recordings to support you in your efforts. These practices are called practices because they are meant to be practiced! In other words, you can’t reap the benefits of MBSR without committing to your practice.
Yet, just as old habits can be hard to break, new habits, even healthy ones, can be a challenge to create. You will likely encounter some resistance. The resistance may be internal (that little voice in your head that says you have don’t have enough time to take care of yourself), or it may be from those in your environment (people in your life can be resistant to your changing, especially if you are someone who is devoted to caring for others).
By taking a class, you will be joining a community of people who are facing similar challenges, allowing you to take comfort in knowing that you are not alone. You will also have the guidance of a caring and committed instructor, who, after nearly 30 years of mindfulness practice, has had ample opportunities to deal with resistance and understands from experience the challenges that may arise.
The class also offers you an opportunity to clarify your understanding of the practices. Learning mindfulness can be tricky, especially for those who are prone to self-doubt or self-criticism. Each week you’ll have the opportunity to have your questions answered and to receive the support and encouragement you need to continue practicing.
Ready to learn more about MBSR?
You are invited to learn more about MBSR and to find out if the MBSR program is right for you by attending a complimentary 1-hour orientation to the program. These sessions are offered at various times and locations. Click here to learn the date, time and location of upcoming orientation sessions and to enroll. Or, enter your name and email address in the space below and you’ll be notified by email of upcoming sessions.