Making meditation and yoga accessible to all members of the community

Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) courses

The Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) course delivered in Brunswick and Preston, Melbourne is an internationally recognised evidence based course delivered over an 8-week / 9 session period. This inspiring course is known for its capacity to increase resilience and improve emotional, physical and mental wellbeing. Here is what previous participants said about the course.

Upcoming courses:

Term 1 – Thursday nights (6:30 – 9pm): 8 February – 29 March; Day of mindfulness: Sunday 18 March in Coburg

Term 2 – Saturday mornings (9:30am – 12pm): 5 May – 23 June; Day of mindfulness: Sunday 10 June (9:30am – 4pm) in Brunswick/Parkville

Cost:

$540 (if pay 1 month before course commences) or $590. Includes course materials and audio guided meditations.

Please note: Each term, we offer one spot  for concession or healthcare card holders for half the usual price. Please email alana@melbournemindfulnessfoundation.com to enquire.

Location:

Coburg, Preston or Brunswick in Melbourne.

Delivered by the Melbourne Mindfulness Foundation team and associates including Nicole Moore from MindfulBeing Melbourne and Suzanne Peyton from The Mindful Well.

What is the MBSR course?

Developed in 1979 by Dr Jon Kabat-Zinn and his team at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program is now an internationally recognised course at the cutting edge of mind-body and preventative medicine. It combines Eastern mindfulness practices with contemporary Western scientific understandings of human functioning. This secular fusion treats a wide range of ailments and mental and emotional difficulties.

Is the MBSR course for you?

Yes, if you would like to:

  • Learn the practice of mindfulness meditation in an in-depth, highly experiential manner (classes are 2.5 hours per week plus 1 one day retreat/workshop)
  • Learn gentle yoga/movement
  • Learn a range of skills and strategies that will help you cope better and manage stress, pain and anxiety
  • Explore your your patterns of thinking, feeling and action
  • Better regulate and understand your emotions
  • Commit to 45 minutes of practice at home each day over the 8 weeks of the course
  • Restore within yourself a balanced sense of health and wellbeing
  • Improve or regain control of your mental and physical health and attain peace of mind
  • Participate in improving your own health and wellbeing as a complement to any medical or psychological treatment you may have had/be receiving.

Three decades of research into the MBSR program have highlighted the following benefits:

  • Improved capacity to deal with stress and challenging situations, both short and long-term
  • Increased capacity to be more present and aware in everyday life
  • Improved ability to focus and pay attention
  • Improved problem solving ability
  • Improved productivity and efficiency
  • Decreased physical and psychological symptoms
  • Improved sense of self-worth
  • More responsive and less reactive to daily challenges
  • Improved capacity to skilfully to, and manage chronic pain and illness.

Here is how previous participants of the course have benefited.

“Cultivating mindfulness can lead to the discovery of deep realms of wellbeing, calmness, clarity, and insight within yourself. Whether you are facing heart disease, cancer, pain, anxiety, depression and/or a very stressful life, mindfulness can be of great value to you.”

– Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn

What does the course involve?

  • 2.5 hours per week over 8 weeks
  • A day retreat/workshop half way through the course.

The course involves a number of weekly sessions. Each session consists of small and large group activities, mindfulness meditation training including guided meditations (seated, lying down and walking/movement meditations), gentle yoga, presentations, group discussions and individual enquiries and feedback.

With time, participants learn how to suspend ‘doing’ for periods of time and shift over to a ‘being’ mode; how to slow down and nurture calmness and self-acceptance; how to make time for themselves; how to observe what their mind is up to from moment to moment; how to watch their thoughts and how to let go of them without getting caught up and driven by them; and how to make room for new ways of seeing old problems.

Participants are expected to undertake at least 45 minutes of mindfulness meditation practice each week outside of the weekly session.

Resources

Participants are provided with:

  • A number of written resources
  • Audio recordings of guided meditations.

The MBSR course is about inviting and encouraging people to participate in improving their own health and wellbeing. An education training course as opposed to therapy, the course teaches people how to take better care of themselves as a complement to whatever the healthcare system is able to do for them.

 

What does each week of the 8 week course involve?

Week 1: Recognising the present moment

“Mindfulness awareness, defined as paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally, is fundamental to this work since the present moment is the only time anyone ever has to perceive, learn, grow and change.”

In Week 1 you will learn how to:

  • Interrupt your autopilot
  • Use body sensations as an anchor into the present moment
  • Move from ‘doing’ to ‘being’ mode
  • Slow down and pay attention to your immediate experience
  • Notice the flow of thoughts, feelings and body sensations that arise in the present moment.

In addition, you will be introduced to the definition of mindfulness as well as the two modes of mind: thinking and sensing.

Week 2: Perception and how we make sense of the world

“It is not the stressors per se, but how you handle them which influences the short and long-term health effects they may have on your mind and your body.”

In Week 2 you will learn how to:

  • Use the breath to anchor you into the present moment
  • Observe experience through the lens of sensations, emotions and thoughts
  • Notice how perception works
  • Honour and accept all your experiences and not just the ‘good’ bits
  • Observe how we appraise experience as pleasant, unpleasant or neutral
  • Work with the mind’s tendency to lose focus – over and over again
  • Begin working with obstacles to practicing regularly.

In addition, you will explore the fact that it is how you see things (or do not see them) that determines in large measure how you will respond to them. You will also be invited to experiment with integrating mindfulness into day-to-day life.

Week 3: The pleasure and power of being present

“Intentionally separating an unpleasant event into thoughts, emotions and body sensations allows the mind to respond more creatively than it would to the perception of an event as monolithic, impenetrable and overwhelming.

In Week 3 you will learn how to:

  • Practice patience and acceptance of yourself as you are
  • Bring an exploratory attitude to unpleasant experience
  • Use the breathing space to anchor you to the present moment
  • Come back to the present moment over and over again
  • Use movement practice to explore limits, and to cultivate concentration, flexibility and strength
  • View your present experience as being made up of three components – thoughts, emotions and body sensations.

Week 4: Investigating stressful experience and approaching the difficult

“To be interested in the changing seasons is a happier state of mind than to be hopefully in love with Spring.” –George Santayana

In Week 4 you will learn:

  • About the physiology and psychology of stress reactivity
  • About the ways in which you tend to react to experience – wanting to hold onto it (attachment); wanting it to go away (aversion) and with spacing out of boredom (neutral)
  • Strategies for cultivating more equanimity in the face of difficult physical and emotional experience
  • Metaphors to work effectively with stressful experience
  • How you can use body sensations as a way to ground yourself and open up choice in stressful moments
  • How to recognise and interrupt the thoughts which are associated with painful emotions.

Week 5: Finding another place to stand

“A meditation practice can open our eyes to how we respond to the unpleasant (such as stress). Rather than generating further stress by reacting with aversion, you allow yourself to ride the waves of the stress (in the event stress is always present) rather than fighting its existence.” –Dr Jon Kabat-Zinn

In Week 5 you will:

  • Investigate your conditioned ways of reacting to stress
  • Be introduced to ways in which you can respond rather than react to stress
  • Explore any unhelpful patterns of thinking and how they shape your perceptions and contribute to stress
  • Explore any narratives or stories you generate in your own mind
  • Learn how to interrupt ruminative thoughts using the breath and the body as anchors
  • Learn new ways of relating to your thoughts
  • Explore an open awareness practice
  • Investigate the conditioned patterns of escape from difficulty (i.e flight of fight – stress reactivity; substance dependency; numbing or suppression of feelings; automaticity, etc)

Week 6: Interpersonal mindfulness

“The single biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” –George Bernard Shaw

In Week 6 you will learn how to:

  • Pay attention to the ‘other’
  • Observe other people in your life in more flexible and accepting ways
  • Recognise habitual patterns of relating
  • Use mindfulness practice as a way of becoming more aware of your needs
  • Use mindfulness practice as a way of preparing for conversations with others
  • Explore patterns of relating through mindfulness.

Week 7: Cultivating kindness towards self and others; applying what has been learned

Don’t meditate to fix yourself, to heal yourself, to improve yourself, to redeem yourself; rather, do it as an act of love, or deep warm friendship with yourself. In this way there is no longer any need for the subtle aggression of self-improvement, for the endless guilt of not doing enough. It offers the possibility of an end to the ceaseless round of trying so hard that wraps so many people’s lives in a knot. Instead, do meditation as an act of love.” –Bob Sharples

In Week 7 you will:

  • Explore how you can integrate what you have been learning into daily life
  • Be invited to reflect on some options for caring for yourself and making choices in your life
  • Be invited to begin practicing the meditations without the audio recordings
  • Be introduced to the R.A.I.N practice.
  • Be invited to develop a ‘Wise Action Plan’ for yourself moving forward.

Week 8: Making mindfulness a part of your life

“Happiness not shaken by conditions begins with imagining that such stable and open happiness exists, and could exist for us. We need wisdom in order to know how to make such happiness real. This implies patience, perspective, and an ability to see things as they are.” –Sharon Salzberg

In Week 8 you will:

  • Explore and share what you have achieved and learnt through the development of a mindfulness practice
  • Be reminded that living mindfully is a process of ongoing practice
  • Discuss ways in which you can continues to maintain a mindfulness practice.

“We can approach our lives as an experiment. In the next moment, in the next hour, we could choose to stop, to slow down, to be still for a few seconds. We could experiment with interrupting the usual chain reaction, and not spin off in the usual way.” 

–Pema Chodron

How is the MBSR course different to the 5 week ‘Learn to Meditate’ course?

Research findings and evidence base

Evidence suggests that eight weeks provides the time for new cognitive, emotional, neurological and behavioural changes to become embedded in the brain. This article provides further information on the impact of an 8 week course on the brain.

Time commitment

The MBSR course requires participants be available each week for the 2.5 hour face-to-face session. Participants are also expected to spend at least 45 minutes practicing meditation each day (via guided meditations provided) in between each of the weekly sessions. In addition to this, there is a half day retreat on a weekend towards the end of the course. The Learn to Meditate course is a much lesser time commitment. The course is delivered over a 5 week period for 1.5 hours each week. While ‘homework’ by way of suggested exercises to try during the week is recommended and encouraged as part of the Learn to Meditate course, there is less emphasis on practicing ‘formal’ meditations in the days between each class.

Sessions

The MBSR course is delivered over an 8 week period and involves 9 sessions – 8 x 2.5 hours sessions and 1 full day retreat. The Learn to Meditate course is delivered over 5 weeks for 1.5 hours each week.

Cost

The MBSR course is valued at $460-550. The Learn to Meditate course is valued at $175.

Resources

Resources by way of written material and guided meditations are provided as part of the MBSR course. Participants in the Learn to Meditate course receive summary notes via email in the weeks between each class.

Depth of what is covered

The MBSR course is broader in focus. While learning to meditate is a core component of the course, the course also touches on neuroplasticity, thinking and thought processes, interpersonal mindfulness, emotional intelligence, working with difficult and uncomfortable thoughts and emotions, stress physiology and communication. The course also provides the space to go deeper into the meditation practices. The focus of the Learn to Meditate course is on teaching a range of meditation techniques and styles although it does briefly touch on some of the broader themes from the MBSR course.

Internationally recognised

The MBSR course is an internationally recognised course on the cutting edge of mind-body health and preventative medicine. Developed in 1979 to support people experiencing chronic illness and pain, it is now well attended by diverse people united by their interest in wanting to improve their health and wellbeing and/or regain control of their health.

Who attends the course?

The MBSR course in Preston, Melbourne is attended by diverse people united by their interest to learn meditation and/or improve or regain control of their mental and physical health. Participants are referred by their doctor or psychologist or refer themselves for a wide range of life and medical problems ranging from stress, anxiety, headaches, high blood pressure, back pain, heart disease, cancer, and depression.

In many instances, people enrol, not because they are feeling physically, emotionally or mentally unwell, but because they feel they would like to gain more balance and peace in their lives.

Health professionals – including doctors, nurses, social workers and psychologists – often attend the MBSR course in Preston for their own professional and personal development. The benefits they derive from the course can be shared with their clients/ patients whom would benefit greatly from a mindfulness practice.

What does the research say about the benefits of the course?

Studies over many years as well as patients’ anecdotal reports show that the MBSR course has many benefits. These include (although are not limited to) fewer and less severe physical symptoms and greater self-confidence, optimism and assertiveness. People also report being more patient and accepting of themselves and their disabilities, as well as more confident in their ability to handle physical and emotional pain. They are also less anxious, depressed and less angry. They feel more in control, even in very stressful situations that previously would have sent them spinning out of control. In other words, they are handling the ‘full catastrophe of their life’ much more skilfully.

Although people are originally referred to the MBSR program to learn how to relax and to cope better with their stress, it is often the case that this is simply the beginning of the benefits they experience.

Further information on the benefits of the program can be found here.

“Mindfulness is simply being aware of what is happening right now without wishing it were different; enjoying the pleasant without holding on when it changes (which it will); being with the unpleasant without fearing it will always be this way (which it won’t).”

– James Baraz

Next steps to confirm your spot at the next MBSR course in Preston in Melbourne!

Step 1: Register
Register for one of the upcoming MBSR courses in Preston, Melbourne here.

Step 2: Chat with us!
Once we have your details we will get in contact to arrange a time to chat. This will give us a chance to get to know you and understand what you hope to get out of the MBSR program. You will also have a chance to ask us questions.

Step 3: Meet with us
We will see you at the MBSR course soon!

Register for the next course!

Starting Sunday 8th October, 2017.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. I cannot afford the course fees. What options do I have?

We do our best to keep our fees as affordable as possible. We make every effort ensure people are not excluded from our courses. Reduced course rates can be offered to people on a health care or concession card and/or by negotiation.

2. How long does the course go for?

The course is delivered over an 8 week period and includes 9 sessions – 8 x 2.5 hour sessions and a one full day silent retreat. Participants are expected to spend 45 minutes each day throughout the course practicing meditation at home.

3. I have never done meditation before. Does this matter?

No, this does not matter. Participants on the course are taught how to meditate using a variety of meditation techniques. The majority of meditation practice during the course is guided.

4. What does each of the 2.5 hour sessions involve?

Each session consists of mindfulness meditation training including short presentations, guided meditations (seated, lying down and walking/movement meditations), gentle yoga, small and large group activities, group discussions, and individual feedback.

5. I have mobility issues. How will I participate in the yoga and mindful movement aspects of the course?

All mindful movement and yoga exercises are very basic and gentle. We also provide plenty of modifications to each pose to ensure people of all fitness levels and abilities can participate. There is also no expectation that you do any of the poses or movements. We encourage participants to work within their own limits.

6. Will I have to speak or address the group during the course?

There is no expectation that you speak at all. That said, participants are encouraged to share with the group how their meditation practice is going week-to-week. Our experience has shown that people tend to get more out of the MBSR course when their contribute to class discussions, ask questions and share their experiences.

Where is the course located?

The MBSR courses are delivered in Preston and Brunswick.

Please note that we are only at the premises when the course is in progress.

The Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) course in Brunswick and Preston are easily accessible for people living in Preston, Parkville, Reservoir, Northcote, Essendon, Moonee Ponds, Brunswick, Heidelberg, Coburg, Rosanna, Thomastown.