The 8-week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Programme (MBSR)
The 8-week MBSR was developed in 1979 at the University of Massachusetts (UMass) by Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn, a micro-biologist working at the university’s Medical Centre. A few years in he founded the Center for Mindfulness (CFM) there. He initially intended the programme to be used with patients at the hospital with a broad spectrum of physical and psychological challenges – chronic pain, chronic conditions, anxiety and depression related to illness and illness brought on by anxiety and depression, and so forth. The premise behind the programme is that, to paraphrase Jon Jabat-Zinn, there is more right with us than wrong with us, as long as we are breathing. So the issue is not our medical condition, whatever that might be, but rather how we are relating to the challenges in our lives, whatever they might be. Since 1979 the programme has grown and thousands of people have undertaken it in hospitals, clinics, schools, prisons, companies and various community and commercial settings all across the United States and Canada, and thence to the rest of the world. The original components of the course structure – adherence to the spirit of the original CFM curriculum, a pre-course orientation, 8 weekly classes of between 2.5 and 3 hours in length and a full Day of Mindfulness practice between weeks 5 & 7 of the 8 week course – have not changed in nearly 40 years.
Research has shown that MBSR is beneficial to patients with medical conditions (including chronic illness and pain, high blood pressure,cancer, vascular and respiratory disorders and many others), psychological distress (including anxiety, panic, depression, fatigue, and sleep disturbances) as well as in preventative medicine and wellness programmes. MBSR has become part of a newly recognised field of integrative medicine within behavioural medicine and general health care. A central tenet of MBSR is that we are active participants in our own well being, no matter what the condition of our body and mind.