Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn developed the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center. Since its inception, MBSR has evolved into a common form of complementary medicine addressing a variety of health problems. The National Institutes of Health’s National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine has provided a number of grants to research the efficacy of the MBSR program in promoting healing (see “Studies” below for information on this research). Completed studies have found that pain-related drug utilization was decreased, and activity levels and feelings of self esteem increased, for a majority of participants. More information on these studies can be found on the University of Massachusetts Medical School website: Center for Mindfulness
Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction brings together mindfulness meditation and yoga. Although MBSR is a training with potential benefits for all types of participants, historically, students have suffered from a wide range of chronic disorders and diseases. MBSR is an 8-week intensive training in mindfulness meditation, based on ancient healing practices, which meets on a weekly basis. Mindfulness practice is ideal for cultivating greater awareness of the unity of mind and body, as well as of the ways the unconscious thoughts, feelings, and behaviors can undermine emotional, physical, and spiritual health. The mind is known to be a factor in stress and stress-related disorders, and meditation has been shown to positively effect a range of autonomic physiological processes, such as lowering blood pressure and reducing overall arousal and emotional reactivity. In addition to mindfulness practices, MBSR uses yoga to help reverse the prevalence of disuse atrophy from our culture’s largely sedentary lifestyle, especially for those with pain and chronic illnesses. The program brings meditation and yoga together so that the virtues of both can be experienced simultaneously.
The MBSR program started in the Stress Reduction Clinic at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center in 1979 and is now offered in over 200 medical centers, hospitals, and clinics around the world, including some of the leading integrative medical centers such as the Scripps Center for Integrative Medicine, the Duke Center for Integrative Medicine, and the Jefferson-Myrna Brind Center for Integrative Medicine. Many of the MBSR classes are taught by physicians, nurses, social workers, and psychologists, as well as other health professionals who are seeking to reclaim and deepen some of the sacred reciprocity inherent in the doctor-caregiver/patient-client relationship. Their work is based on a need for an active partnership in a participatory medicine, one in which patient/clients take on significant responsibility for doing a certain kind of interior work in order to tap into their own deepest inner resources for learning, growing, healing, and transformation.
Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) is a form of MBSR that includes information about depression as well as cognitive therapy-based exercises linking thinking and its resulting impact on feeling. MBCT demonstrates how participants can best work with these thoughts and feelings when depression threatens to overwhelm them and how to recognize depressive moods that can bring on negative thought patterns.
Mindfulness is a lifetime engagement–not to get somewhere else, but to be where and as we actually are in this very moment, whether the experience is pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral.
Other Resource Links
Center for Mindfulness A history of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Program Studies