Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) was developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn, Ph.D. back in the late Seventies, and has been widely adopted as a research-proven way to offer mindfulness training. MBSR is designed to help participants re-discover and then cultivate their own inner resources as a way of bringing awareness, balance and compassion into their lives. Decades of research has demonstrated that a mindfulness practice can help us hold difficulties with more ease and enhance our well-being. Here is a review of the benefits, and if you are interested in the utility of mindfulness in a specific area, please contact me.
The course is eight weeks long, with each session lasting about two and a half hours. There is also a 6-hour retreat between session 6 and 7—a unique chance to really explore what you are learning.
This is the course to consider if you want to go deeper into mindfulness—beyond the apps and self-help books. But it also takes a time commitment. Traditionally, participants in MBSR were asked to devote about 20-40 minutes per day of practice. It is great if you can do that; the class almost teaches itself! But that isn’t an option for most, so I teach it in a way that also makes it accessible for those with limited time.
The course includes interactive didactic sessions, along with meditations and lots of group discussion about working with things like stress and difficult emotions. The idea is to provide fertile ground for you to discover your own insights about how your perceptions and reactions can limit your ability to fully experience your life, so that you can begin to effect changes based on your own inner guidance. As the course proceeds, you will see that we become each other’s teachers as we share what we are learning.
Please note that it is important to approach a course like this with appropriate expectations. Mindfulness isn’t a way to “feel better fast.” It is more about taking the time to understand your mind and meeting what you find with acceptance and kindness. We all tend to have habitual reactions that increase our stress and unhappiness, and mindfulness helps you uncover those and work with them with greater openness, creativity and wisdom. But that process takes time and practice (and some courage as well).
Overview of Each Session
(There are two 10-minute breaks per session.)
Session 1: Introductions, creating group guidelines, and discussing the nature of mindfulness. Meditations include a body scan, awareness of breath and an eating practice.
Session 2: Additional seated and movement meditation practices, including mindfulness of sound. We’ll also explore how our perceptions can color our experience and add to stress.
Session 3: Continue to explore different practices, including walking meditation and ways to mindfully work with physical discomfort. We’ll discuss the consequences of how we immediately judge things as pleasant or unpleasant and introduce the Loving Kindness practice.
Session 4: Continued experience in meditation and movement practices and then explore the role of guided imagery. We’ll also learn to work with difficult emotions using the RAIN practice, and see how our habitual reactions can exacerbate our experience of stress.
Session 5: We’ll explore mindfulness of thoughts, and ways to work with that busy mind. We’ll also see how mindfulness can help us have more options as we respond to stressful situations.
Session 6: We’ll see what it is like to bring mindfulness into our interpersonal relations and communication styles. This will include looking at the idea of self-compassion and how it can help us address the difficulties we face out in life and within ourselves.
Retreat (usually on a Sunday after Session 6): A chance to practice what we’ve learned in the preceding weeks for an extended period. It is a real gift to allow yourself the time to explore mindfulness in this way.
Session 7: Exploring of how mindfulness can be brought into daily life, for instance by seeing how our lifestyle choices can be either self-nourishing or self-limiting. This can also allow us to maintain a mindfulness practice in the midst of hectic days.
Session 8: We’ll look at how to cultivate positive qualities such as equanimity and gratitude as part of a mindfulness practice, as well as explore the many ways to maintain a practice going forward—even if time and inclination may fade!
Feel free to contact me if you have any questions or need more specific information.