by Danna Anderson, M.Ed., LPC
Mindfulness is paying attention in a particular way with out judgment. Thus, mindfulness is not only about being aware of what is happening in a particular moment; it’s also about being kind and compassionate to what arises in that particular moment in time. At the heart of the work is the notion that we are whole. This itself is a revolutionary notion depending on the theoretical framework you adhere to as a therapist. Within the theoretical framework of mindfulness there is no need to be fixed. Everything a person needs in order to heal is already there, inside, it just may have been forgotten or never accessed. Part of the work with Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction is helping participants remember or access their own healing power. This notion of wholeness is incredibly empowering because it allows people to take an active role in the process of their own healing. We have the power to heal our wounds.
We can heal ourselves emotionally, physically, and spiritually through turning towards instead of away from what ails us. This turning towards instead of away can be difficult, downright painful even, but necessary for any healing to take place. Western culture steers us away from pain. If one is not feeling well or if something is wrong there is a pill to fix it, something to distract. Our human-being “ness” naturally wants to distract, to let go, to move away from what ails us. The busy lives we lead keep us from stillness, from turning into. Turning away is so much easier and pleasurable to boot. We have texting, cell phones, computers, television, shopping to do, and money to make. We live in a society of doing which makes it extremely hard to just BE.
We may drive our cars distracted and disconnected, unaware of how we even arrived at our destination. Sometimes when we speak with others we do not really LOOK at them, really see the other person. Most people within our society have forgotten what it is like to have idle time. There is always the phone to turn to when waiting in line or at the doctor’s office, what need is there to speak or be with another or…even with our-selves.
Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction teaches participants how to be. How to just be when they walk, how to just sit in quiet, what it is like to check in with what is happening inside and around them with depth, connectedness, compassion, and nonjudgmental awareness. Being is taught through meditative practices. Participants learn how to meditate, how to move their body mindfully, and even how to eat with mindfulness. They are also taught informal ways to check in with themselves through out the day. The course is experiential. Participants get the most from the course when they do the work outside of class. Meditation is not just a once in awhile thing, it is a practice that must have sustainability in order to reap its many benefits.
Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction was created in 1979 at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center by Jon Kabat-Zinn. Kabat-Zinn created this program to help people heal from the inside out. Doctors sent patients to him that were not getting better. Patients who were sent to him were noticing positive results. There immune systems were improving, they seemed more relaxed, happier. Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction has helped thousands of people all over the world. The program has been brought into schools, businesses, and hospitals. It has been proven to help participants with anxiety, chronic pain symptoms, posttraumatic stress disorder, psoriasis, and obsessive-compulsive disorder, as well as other health related disorders. It is important to note that MBSR is not a replacement for therapy, but it enhances it. When a person starts to meditate, they get to see what is happening underneath. They become more aware of their emotional, physical, and spiritual landscape. As the program unfolds clients will have beautiful nuggets to explore or process with their therapist. The program itself is educational in nature, yet what participants are really learning is how to truly live.
I will be teaching the 8-week Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Program beginning on September 28 on Monday evenings. A free introductory workshop is being offered on September 14th and the 21st at 7pm for anyone who is interested in attending the MBSR program as well as anyone who may be interested in learning more about the program.