Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction with Dominic Cogan

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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.

Over the eight weeks of the program, the practices help us to:

  • Become familiar with the workings of the mind, including the ways we avoid or get caught up in difficulties

  • Notice the times when we are at risk of getting caught in old habits of mind that re-activate downward mood spirals or rachet up anxiety levels.

  • Explore ways of releasing ourselves from those old habits and enter a different way of being.

  • Get in touch with a different way of knowing ourselves and the world.

  • Notice small beauties and pleasures in the world around us instead of living in our heads.

  • Be kind to ourselves instead of wishing things were different all the time, or driving ourselves to meet impossible goals.

  • Accept ourselves as we are, rather than judging ourselves all the time.

  • Be able to exercise greater choice in life.

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