Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR)
WHC will be offering our spring 8-week MBSR course starting February 7th, Mondays, 5:30-7:45. This course is being offered via zoom. Our last course we offered was via zoom and was quite successful. It was probably one of the best courses we had. Being in the comfort of your own home and doing the class seemed to bring a depth to the practices that we hadn’t experienced before. I encourage you to consider this venue while we are offering it.
I have been teaching this course twice a year since 2016 and received my certification for teaching this in 2020. This mindfulness course is a practice course. I like to tell people it isn’t a fluff class. It is a class that is geared towards not only teaching you mindfulness practice but integrating it into your life. With the eight-week course comes daily practice assignments that help you develop the “habit” of bringing mindfulness into your life. And because mindfulness changes your brain, it also changes your life.
The Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program was developed by Jon Kabat-Zin at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center in 1979. He developed the course for treatment of chronic medical pain. This program brings the integration of meditation and mindfulness into mainstream medicine, health care, education, business, professional athletics, leadership, and daily living.
The MBSR program teaches both formal and informal mindfulness practices. This includes mindful eating, mindful sitting meditation, body scans, simple yoga practices and mindful walking. The program brings these practices into your life progressively during the 8-week program. Kabat-Zin describes mindfulness as “moment-to-moment, nonjudgmental awareness.” (Wikipedia, 2013). Mindfulness is working to be aware and present in our moment. It is really about living fully present.
The practice has been profound for me on a personal level and a professional level. Mindfulness has been the buzz word that we are hearing everywhere. But probably for good reason. We are a society that has amped up our multi-tasking and disconnectedness more and more with our technology world. We are busy and on the move. Our stress levels seem to have increased as we have become more evolved. And as the baby boomers are growing older, we have a large population looking at chronic illness, chronic stress, chronic worry, and more sandwich generations needing to care-give both the older and the younger generations. Added into this normal way of life, is the abnormal way of life with the pandemic and all the experiences around living in this time.
With the pandemic many have considered priorities and values. Part of this revamp may be that we need to put ourselves as a priority. And consider our health and well-Being on all levels, mind, body and soul which may be more evident now than ever before. We are looking for alternative and integrative medicine. We need mind, body and soul awareness and health. Research has shown that when we do a few minutes of mindfulness we actually change our brain and changes our lives.
We know that the mind plays a part in stress and stress-related disorders and that mediation has been shown to positively affect physiological processes such as lowering blood pressure and reducing overall arousal and emotional reactivity. There is other evidence of positive results from mindfulness. Participation in an 8-week mindfulness meditation program showed measurable changes in the brain regions associated with memory, sense of self, empathy and stress. Structural differences have been found between the brains of experienced meditation practitioners and individuals with no history of meditation. The meditators have shown a thickening of the cerebral cortex in areas associated with attention and emotional integration. There has also been found an increased grey-matter density in the hippocampus, the area important for learning and memory and in the areas associated with self-awareness, compassion and introspection. And there was a decrease in grey-matter density in the amygdala – an area associated with anxiety and stress. (Massachusetts General Hospital, 2011) In one study it was found that the effects of meditation training and those that suffered from chronic pain may have the ability to “turn down the volume on pain signals.” They learn to be aware of where their attention is focused and not get stuck on the painful area. (Trafton, 2011). The MBSR was started, initially for those with chronic pain. It is very effective in this area.
Call our office, 308-382-5297, to register for this 8-week program on Mondays, starting February 7th from 5:30-7:45pm. The program meets weekly for 2.5 hours and one weekend day for an All-Day, teacher-led, silent retreat. The course will be taught by zoom. The cost is $450. Early bird discount (register before February 1st) is $400.00. I look forward to sharing more about this.
Massachusetts General Hospital. (2011, January 21). Mindfulness meditation training changes brain structure in 8 weeks. Retrieved from www.massgeneral.org/about/pressrelease.aspx?id=1329.
Trafton, A. (2011, May 5). Massachusetts Institue of Technology. Retrieved from The Benefits of Meditation MIT and Harvard neuroscientists explain why the practice helps tune out distractions and relieve pain.
Wikipedia. (2013, November 12). Mindfulness-based stress reduction. Retrieved from Wikipedia.Tags: MBSR, Mindfulness changes the brain, mindfulness course
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker
Licensed Independent Mental Health Practitioner
- Janie Pfeifer Watson, LICSW, is the founder and director of Wholeness Healing Center, a mental health practice in Grand Island, Nebraska with remote sites in Broken Bow and Kearney. Her expertise encompasses a broad range of areas, including depression, anxiety, attachment and bonding, coaching, couples work, mindfulness, trauma, and grief. She views therapy as an opportunity to learn more about yourself as you step more into being your authentic self. From her perspective this is part of the spiritual journey; on this journey, she serves as a mirror for her clients as they get to know themselves—and, ultimately, to love themselves.
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