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mindfulness-based stress reduction Class 1

Part of the requirements of being a licensed counselor is to take continuing education courses. I decided to take a formal Mindfulness-based stress reduction course (MBSR) as part of my requirement and to continue strengthening my own practice. I will be putting up a summary of the weekly class and some tools for those who may be interested. I will also be writing about my experience and some brief discussion on how these practices can help those struggling with anxiety, depression, chronic pain and other issues.

Mindfulness-based stress reduction is a 9-week course developed by Jon-Kabat Zinn that incorporates mindfulness meditation and movement as a tool to reduce stress and improve quality of life. Since he began developing MBSR over 30-years ago there has been other models developed including mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, mindfulness-based relapse prevention and mindfulness-based childbirth and Parenting.

Week 1-

Summary week 1 Definition of mindfulness “Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way; On purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally.”-Jon Kabat-Zinn For the first class we briefly discussed being present at work, in relationships and during recreation. We also discussed stress and how it affects our daily lives. During the discussion individuals identified the need to be present and then affects of not being present at work, in relationships and during recreation. Some of the effects included; possible injury, less productivity, less enjoyment, loss of connection,tension, additional stress and pain. Positive qualities around being present included; stronger relationships, more creativity, better productivity and overall more enjoyment.

No matter how long I have practiced something I still learn from going back to the basics. The raisin exercise brought me back to beginners mind, reconnecting with the process of mindfulness in the daily act of eating. The breath awareness is something that I do often, however, while practicing with others I noticed a heightened sense of awareness. The body scan brought up some physical sensations due to the time of night. I found my concentration was challenged due to the desire for sleep. It reminded me of something I read somewhere that said if you are falling asleep during meditation then you should go take a nap....listening to your body cues is part of mindfulness. I did not fall asleep because I was in a class, so I used the challenge as an opportunity to work with rising emotions and breathe with the sensations.

Throughout the class I was presented with an extra challenge to remain present. At the beginning of the evening my partner had texted me that our youngest child had a fever. I made the choice to stay, knowing that he has the ability to take care of her. He reassured me that if it got worse he would let me know. Each time I found my mind wandering, worrying about her I observed my thought process, reminding myself that I was choosing to stay and brought my attention back to the discussion. The potential of informal practice in every day life.



Specific tools- (and links you can download-though often times it is easier to follow a cd)

Raisin exercise: (script from Jon Kabat-Zinn) This is an awareness exercise that also uses mindful eating techniques. Especially useful for those new to the practice to begin noticing the qualities of mindfulness.

breath awareness- This is an exercise that can be done throughout the day, for even 1 minute. Find a comfortable seated position and close your eyes. Notice your breath in your nostrils as you breathe in. Try to breath naturally, not changing the breathe, but just paying attention to it as you breathe in and breathe out. It is normal for your mind to wander. When you notice your attention straying to other thoughts gently notice that you are thinking about something else and then bring your attention back to the breath. Continue to practice this awareness and when you are done simply open your eyes and return to your task at hand.

body-scan meditation- (one example of a script) This is a longer guided meditation. Make sure and set aside about 35 minutes in a quiet space where you will have no interruptions. Homework Mindfulness is experiential. Therefore to reap the benefits and truly understand the concept one must practice. Even setting aside 5 minutes of formal practice a day has been shown to have great benefits of reducing symptoms of stress. For this particular class we are asked to practice breath awareness daily and the body scan meditation as much as possible throughout the week. We are also to eat one meal mindfully. Resources- Full catastrophe Living- Jon Kabat-Zinn


Have you taken this class before?  How has it helped you?