The Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Programme (MBSR) was developed in 1979 at the University of Massachusetts Medical Centre (UMass) by Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn. This 8 week programme was initially designed to support participants to respond more effectively to stress, pain and illness. We have all, no doubt, experienced times when we have conducted our lives mechanically, on auto-pilot and have become separated from our ability to appreciate the many joys that life offers us. The Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Programme is based on the belief that by developing increased awareness of our selves, including body, mind and heart, we will have the ability to restore ourselves to a balanced sense of health and well-being.
The participants are taught to observe their habitual, automatic and unhelpful cognitive reactions while at the same time learning to interact with their thoughts and emotions in a less judgmental and more compassionate manner. The aim of the course is to help participants engage with themselves, and their thoughts, emotions and bodily sensations in a way that promotes psychological flexibility and overall well-being.
A central aim of the approach is to learn how to be more fully aware and present in each moment of life. The good news is that this makes life enjoyable, interesting, vivid, and fulfilling. On the other hand, this means facing what is present, even when it is unpleasant and difficult. In practice you will find that turning to face and acknowledge difficulties is, in the long run, the most effective way to reduce stress and unhappiness.
Who might benefit from the course?
The course is of benefit to anyone who would like to experience:
What the 8 week M.B.S.R. course entails.
In a Mindfulness course, participants meet together as a class with an instructor for 8 weekly 2 1/2 hour classes, plus one all-day session between weeks 5 and 7.
The emphasis in these courses is educational. There is ample time for discussion, but, while the course can be very healing, it is not group therapy. Participants learn a different way of being with experience, bringing attention to what is happening here and now, rather than to what may or may not have happened in the past.
The skill of mindfulness is taught through formal and informal mindfulness practices. Formal mindfulness meditation practices include the body scan meditation, mindful movement, sitting meditation and the 3-minute breathing space. Informal mindfulness meditation practice involves integrating mindfulness into every day life.
In each class, participants have an opportunity to talk about their experience of the home practices, the obstacles that inevitably arise, and how to deal with them skillfully. Each class is organized around a theme that is explored through mindfulness practice, group inquiry and other relevant exercises.
Commitment to the practice.
As mindfulness training is primarily experiential in nature, the main ‘work’ of the course is done at home between classes, using CDs with guided meditations that support participants developing practice outside of class. This requires devoting approximately 40 minutes per day to home practice. In many ways this commitment to daily practice is the most important aspect of the course. It is through personal experiencing of mindfulness that we come to understand the possibilities it opens for us in our daily lives.