Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) is a experiential learning program based on the core principle of mindfulness.
The program is offered in a group setting and guided by a skilled MBSR instructor as the curriculum unfolds over 8 weeks. The class meets once a week from 2 to 2 ½ hours and is a combination of mindfulness practices, group sharing of experience with practice, and exploration of topics such as mindfulness, stress, and communication. There is an All Day of practice that usually occurs between the 6th and 7th week of the 8-week program. In addition to the hours of practice in a supportive classroom environment guided by a professionally trained MBSR instructor, each participant is encouraged to engage in daily mindfulness practice between classes to foster the development of the new habit of mindfulness.
Mindfulness is paying attention to each moment of our life, non-judgmentally. The key aspects of mindfulness involve purposeful action, focused attention, grounded in the current experience, and held with a sense of curiosity.
Sometimes we mention to the people in our classes that coming to the stress reduction program is stressful. We are aware that so many of us have very busy lives and that adding a class one time per week and setting aside time for mindfulness practice can be challenging.
One thing to keep in mind is that while time may feel like a challenge adding mindfulness into our lives tends to help us prioritize and become efficient at work. Additionally, taking time to restore and balance can give us more energy reserves to meet the demands of our very busy lives.
Yes. Mindfulness is not about sitting still or moving slowly. Mindfulness and MBSR are about bring attention to this moment whether it is fidgety or still. Participants will engage in many different forms of mindfulness practices which include sitting, lying down, standing, and moving. Participants are encouraged to take care of themselves. If you need to leave the room and walk a bit and then come back, that is an option. The class may also be a good place to explore the edges of our boundaries with this and to notice what it is like to stay with this and notice if it perhaps changes over time.
No. While prior mindfulness practice may motivate individuals to take MBSR, the MBSR program and instructor have no expectation that participants have experience with meditation or yoga or any other mindfulness practice. Everyone will have the opportunity to explore and experience mindfulness while having a skilled teacher to guide and help answer questions about practice.
For those that have experience with meditation or yoga in the past, the course can be a good refresher to rebuild a strong daily practice.
There are some conditions that participants are encouraged to be under the care of a mental health professional or medical doctor. In other situations, participants may be encouraged to delay entering an MBSR program or seek other treatments.
A partial list of conditions or life situations may include a history of substance or alcohol abuse with less than a year of being clean or sober, thoughts or attempts of suicide, recent or unresolved trauma, as well as being in the middle of major life changes.
Please discuss any questions you may have with your treatment provider or if you would like the MBSR instructor to work in conjunction with your provider.
Some insurance companies like Kaiser offer MBSR courses to their members. Members that belong to a health savings account or medical flex reimbursement program may have their provider write a medical letter of necessity to have the MBSR course paid for or member reimbursed. Please follow up your plan to confirm.
No. It is not necessary to read any books prior to attending the MBSR class. In fact during the class we recommend not reading any books, as mindfulness is a highly experiential process. We invite you to use this time to investigate your own process and experience of the course and then after it is finished it may be useful to expand your understanding by reading Full Catastrophe Living by Jon Kabat-Zinn.
MBSR was developed in a way that is accessible to all people regardless of the religious traditions or beliefs. Mindfulness practice is really just about being awake to our lives as they are and working with seeing our process and ourselves more clearly. This tends to be a good complement to many religious traditions in ways that you can explore as you develop your practice.