Mindfulness Based Stess Reduction

“Anything and everything can become our teacher of the moment, reminding us of the possibility of being fully present; the gentle caress of air on our skin, the play of light, the look on someone’s face. Anything and everything - if it is met in awareness.”

Jon Kabat-Zinn


As described by Jon Kabat-Zinn, who developed the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program now taught throughout the world, “Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally.”  


Depression and anxiety pull our attention out of the present, into the past and the future.  We regret what has happened, and worry about what may happen, with the result that we no longer focus on what is going on right now.  


But the past is gone and therefore cannot be changed; the future hasn’t arrived, and is therefore equally inaccessible.  To focus on the past and the future is therefore an exercise in futility, a way of cheating ourselves of the present.


So why learn mindful living?  Studies over the past 30 years have clearly revealed that mindfulness practice reduces stress.  It can therefore be highly valuable to anyone who lives with stress (this would be you). With a mindful approach to life, people report an ability to distance themselves from the strong automatic judgments and emotions that we all experience.  


This enables them to respond skillfully and creatively to problems, rather than merely to react in predictable and inflexible ways.  Challenges they previously found to be difficult of even impossible to handle seem to present new opportunities for creative solution.  Situations that cannot be changed are easier to accept.  They are focused on the present moment, and so experience a greater sense of control in their lives.


Originating in Buddhist thought, but applicable whatever the individual’s religion or faith might be, mindfulness teaches us to make the most of the only moment we have: the present moment.  Mindfulness is not a technique, but a way of living richly, of appreciating our lives to the best of our ability.  It is not therapy so much as an educational experience.  


Training


Mindfulness has been taught to high-level corporate executives, to convicts serving long sentences in prisons, and to hundreds of thousands in between those two extremes.  It does not require vast experience or extensive college or post-graduate education.  However, learning mindfulness requires work both in and out of session, as there is daily homework of an hour or more—it cannot be learned by reading or talking about it, only through experiencing it ourselves.  So a high degree of commitment is necessary.


Philip has studied mindfulness with Jon Kabat-Zinn, Ph.D and Saki Santorelli, Ed.D.; and with Melissa Blacker, MA and Florence Meleo-Meyer, MS, MA; all through the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.  His training and group supervision are ongoing. He has also taught mindfulness in a group format through the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Training is available by request.



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Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society, University of Massachusetts



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