Image by Lesly Juarez

Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR)

MBSR is an eight-week evidence-based group program that offers secular, intensive mindfulness meditation training, including body awareness, movement and exploration of patterns of behaviour, thinking, feeling and action, to assist people with stress, anxiety, depression and pain.

Being fully present in the moment and cultivating awareness can build resiliency and positively impact your life.

 

A wealth of research on mindfulness presents potential beneficial effects for mental health as well as physical health. Research on mindfulness and the brain reveals neural plasticity underpinning enhanced attention control and emotion regulation as a result of practice. This may help to understand the salutary effects on well-being and stress levels anecdotally expressed by participants upon completion of a course. These include but are not limited to:

  • ability to sleep better

  • improved focus, attention & working memory

  • weight loss

  • less anxiety & emotional reactivity

MBSR was originally developed in the 1970s by Prof. Jon Kabat-Zinn at the University of Massachusetts Medical Centre as a form of participatory medicine for patients living with chronic pain. It has since been used effectively in non-clinical settlings and populations across the world including prisons, schools, Governments, and the mainstream medicine and healthcare by supporting participants in accessing inner resources for healing and stress management.

What does MBSR entail?

  • 8 weekly group sessions of 2.5 hours

  • one-day silent retreat between sessions 6 & 7

  • Daily practice & homework  totalling c.45-60 minutes 45 minutes

  • Instruction in 3 formal meditation techniques: sitting meditation, body scanning and mindful movement

  • Informal meditation practices

  • Group discussions and exploration of experience of the meditation practices and its application to life is a central part of the program.

MBSR may not be suitable for everyone. If you suffer from depression, general anxiety disorder, suicidal thoughts, or physical illness kindly consult with your doctor, therapist or psychiatrist before considering joining the the program.

If you've recently experienced a major loss, it is recommended to give yourself some time before joining.

Mindfulness: What is it not?

Mindfulness is not about being relaxed, but rather meeting experience as it is, without trying to change it. We often expect that mindfulness will bring peace and calm. Although it's true that you can experience a sense of relaxation while practicing mindfulness, this is not a guaranteed outcome. Mindfulness is simply meeting experience as it is.

Mindfulness does not remove stressors from our lives, but rather it teaches us how to recognise our stress pattern, and encourages us to relate to difficult thoughts, emotions and patterns of behaviour in a more adaptive way. It's our relationship with difficulty that changes, not the difficulty itself.

Mindfulness is not the absence of thought, but rather we learn not to get caught up in the thoughts. Instead of striving for an empty mind, we hone the skill of becoming aware of our thoughts without the tendency we all have to identify with them or accept them as the truth. We learn how to relate to our thoughts in a different way.

Mindfulness is not about being complacent, but rather we learn to acknowledge what's already happening, rather than deny or resist it. We learn to befriend ourselves and to take skilful action that benefits our well-being and those around us.