MBSR | Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction
The 8-week MBSR programme developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn has helped thousands of people world wide to reduce stress and anxiety, manage depression and improve levels of mental and physical health. Suitable for beginners, this comprehensive course teaches the foundations of mindfulness practice and provides the tools to positively re-shape your life.
"You can't stop the waves but you can learn to surf" Jon Kabat-Zinn
The 8-week MBSR course was developed by Dr Jon Kabat-Zinn at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center in the USA. This comprehensive, evidence-based programme develops emotional awareness, skill and resilience through simple yet powerful practices.
Originally successful in treating patients in clinical settings suffering from stress, depression and chronic pain, MBSR is also proven to be highly effective in supporting people to manage the ordinary anxiety and stress typical of modern life.
How it works
The course is designed to help you to learn new ways to manage difficult emotions, thoughts, feelings and physical sensations. It offers the potential to transform your experience of everyday life, understand your mind better and improve your mental and physical health and well-being.
MBSR teaches the core skill of mindfulness - the awareness that arises from paying close attention to the moment to moment experience of what is going on in the mind, the body and the world around you. This skill is developed through meditation. Practicing meditation enables us to observe what the mind is doing without being drawn into its endless activity and habitual, automatic reactions. For example, by simply focusing our attention on the sensations of breathing in and out, and returning the attention to the breath each time it wanders off, we are training the mind to be more present, moment by moment, and more aware of its activity and content.
Mindfulness meditation can be relaxing and it’s a very effective tool for finding peace and calm. But it has the potential to offer something even more life-changing - it teaches us to understand our own mind and become aware of the mental mechanics of what is involved in being healthy and happy. Furthermore, it develops our capacity to respond to the difficult things that life throws at us - with more clarity, calm and perspective.
With practice we develop flexibility and skill in handling the various ‘weather conditions’ in our life. It is possible to begin to see things differently, respond to challenging experiences better and handling stressful situations. The realisation that ‘you are not your thoughts’ liberates us from being locked into unhelpful patterns of thought and behaviour. This opens the door to greater choice in how we live, how we relate to others and creates the basis for improved health and happiness.
“It’s not that mindfulness is the answer to all of life’s problems. Rather, it is that all life’s problems can be seen more clearly through the lens of a clear mind.” Jon Kabat-Zinn
People completing a MBSR programme often report:
Greater capacity for relaxation
Feeling more in control, even in very stressful situations
Feeling less anxious, less depressed and less stressed
Being more self confident, optimistic and assertive
Confidence in their ability to handle emotional and physical pain
More energy and enthusiasm for life
The 8-week MBSR course comprises of:
Eight weekly group sessions lasting 2-2.5 hours
One all-day session, usually held on the Saturday of the sixth week.
Home Practice of 40-60 mins per day, six days per week.
The course teaches a range of key mindfulness practices and is designed to develop your skills as the programme progresses. During each weekly session you will learn and practice them under the guidance of an instructor and have the opportunity to discuss your experiences and reflect on your personal progress. Hearing the experiences shared by other members of the group can be of huge value to our learning.
Daily home practice is set for completion between sessions. It is a critical part of the 8-week training and a regular practice is essential to developing your mindfulness. People who follow a consistent routine of practice report greater benefits on completion of the course. You will receive support with this important and sometimes challenging aspect of the programme.
MBSR is supported by a large body of clinical evidence supporting its effectiveness in a wide variety of contexts. Here are a couple of fascinating findings to highlight the significant impact possible with 8 weeks of training.
The brain responds to mindfulness training by re-organising its physical structure - the phenomenon known as 'neuroplasticity'. Studies show that just 8 weeks of mindfulness training can lead to the thickening of the brain regions associated with emotion regulation, learning and memory, sense of self and perspective taking. Furthermore, the area of the brain that responds to threats and determines our experience of stress can become thinner.
The University of Wisconsin studied the effects of MBSR delivered in a corporate setting to healthy but stressed employees. The participants' brain activity was monitored over the 8-weeks and in the region of the brain associated with processing emotion (the pre-frontal cortex) there was a significant shift indicating that they were handling anxiety, frustration and stress more effectively. Mindfulness had developed their emotional intelligence. This shift was still apparent at a 4 month follow up after the programme.
Please contact me to learn more and discuss whether MBSR is the right course for you.