Would you like to learn how to function well and be happy when stress, pain, psychological distress, or illness is a regular part of your daily life? Over 30 years of medical research has demonstrated that training in the simple practice of mindfulness is a powerful way to reduce symptoms and manage chronic pain.
In fact, thousands of people have found relief through Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction (MBSR). Highly regarded by the medical community, MBSR is an eight-week course that was developed in 1979 by Jon Kabat-Zinn, Ph.D., at the University of Massachusetts Medical School as a complement to medical or psychological treatment. The heart of this healing approach is based on a form of meditation called “mindfulness.” Mindfulness – the ability to be present in each moment – is a basic human capacity, a way of learning to be aware of whatever is happening in your body, mind, and emotions that fosters a greater sense of connection to every aspect of your life.
Until recently, it was believed that our brains are fully formed by our mid-twenties. However, scientific research has now confirmed that through the focused practice of mindfulness we can change the pathways in our brain and activate areas that are related to happiness and positive thinking, while also positively impacting our immune system and other bodily functions.
The capacity for mindfulness already exists within each and every one of us. It’s not something new that you have to obtain from outside yourself, but an inner wellspring of awareness waiting to be tapped and utilized in your own process of healing and personal growth.
In MBSR, mindfulness is cultivated through systematic practice. The eight-week program introduces proven methods like the body scan, gentle yoga, and awareness exercises that help you connect directly with your moment-to-moment experience.
MBSR has been successfully applied to a wide range of conditions from depression to eating disorders to cancer. The Navy uses mindfulness-based programs to address Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in veterans. MBSR has been brought to schools to help children improve their ability to learn and has helped CEO’s improve their leadership capacity. Last year, Congressman Jim Ryan published a book entitled The Mindful Nation, which presents mindfulness as a roadmap to a better future for all of us.
Most individuals who complete a Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction program experience lasting reductions in physical and psychological symptoms and an increased capacity for relaxation and greater life balance. However, you don’t need to suffer from stress or illness to benefit from MBSR. Mindfulness is beneficial for anyone interested in being proactive about his or her health.
Bernie Schreck, M.A., brings more than 20 years of experience teaching meditation to his work. He regularly offers half-day introductory workshops and 8-week MBSR classes in Kona, Waimea, Hilo and Pahoa. For information on upcoming programs click here.