Mindfulness is like the swiss army knife of happiness practices. In past blogs, I
talked about how mindfulness can increase happiness, induce calm and create powerful insights into how your mind works . As they said in ‘80s
infomercials, “But that’s not all!” In fact, studies have shown that mindfulness practices are useful in the actual treatment of a broader set of issues, such as chronic pain, stress, anxiety, insomnia, eating disorders, addiction and in preventing depression relapse.
Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR)
Jon Kabat-Zinn was the first to bring mindfulness to therapeutic use in the US. He was a scientist who wanted to evaluate the health benefits of mindfulness. So he took something people thought of as squishy and un-scientific and made it something that could be taught consistently and used in controlled scientific studies in the same way that pills and other therapies are tested. He called it the
Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program. Over the last couple decades the majority of the studies that show the medical benefits of mindfulness are based on MBSR.
The 8-week program consists of:
• Daily mindfulness meditations that are 45 minutes in duration
• Weekly two-hour group meetings with a trained facilitator to provide teaching,
support and accountability and
• A full day mindfulness retreat near the end of the program.
The MBSR program was started at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center, but with its clinical success has been expanded to medical centers and hospitals in most major cities all over the world.
I went through a local MBSR program earlier this year as a tool to help manage my insomnia and anxiety. It was intense and challenging to make that level of commitment, but it gave me some powerful insights into my own struggles. Most importantly, it gave me some perspectives on accepting more of that anxiety, of being with it instead of suppressing it or trying to eliminate it. And (“It dices!”) I’ve been sleeping a lot better since completing the program.
If you want to find out more about MBSR as a tool to get a handle on your stress or a medical issue you’re facing, you can find programs in your area through a Google search (MBSR and your city). They usually run about $500. While it is a big time commitment, it is a powerful and proven way to help manage stress and other life challenges.
The Happiness Coach
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