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Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction course


What is the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) course?

The Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) course is an 8 week, 9 session experiential program grounded in and informed by decades of cutting edge research in the area of mind-body health. Developed in 1979 by Jon Kabat-Zinn, this evidenced based and internationally recognised program combines contemporary scientific understandings of human functioning with Eastern mindfulness practices. This secular fusion treats and/or elevates a wide range of ailments, as well as mental and emotional challenges, and is known for its ability to support participants to better navigate and respond to the inevitable demands of everyday life. Learn more.

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What does the course involve?

Through guided meditation instructions including gentle movement, group discussions and short presentations, course participants learn to cultivate the skills of mindfulness, an essential life tool which build resilience and improve wellbeing.

Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.

“Mindfulness invites us to live life as if it really matters – being in the present moment with open-hearted presence and kindness towards ourselves.

When you are aware in this moment, you are aware that this is your life. Then you are not waiting for the weekend or for some project to be finished for you to have a life. Every moment is your life. In very stressful situations you can move into the actuality of the situation and find ways to move with it and regulate your own reactivity to it so that you are not running away and you are not pushing through anything but you are allowing things to unfold as they do. That is the heart of creativity and that way we get the most work done with the least distraction and the least effort.  

One of the most difficult things to do as human beings is to be present in our own lives and to be kind towards ourselves and less judgmental of ourselves. Mindfulness is a way of being, a way of being awake and being yourself.

The present … is right now, in the midst of whatever is happening. Mindfulness involves some discipline and it does take some time. But what else is there to do if you’re missing your entire life? Whatever moment you decide to reconnect with your life that moment will be now. We only have moments of now. Why not make the most of them? Now.”

-Jon Kabat-Zinn

For a full overview of what the course involves, visit this webpage. In short:

  • A phone interview with one of our teachers, as well as ongoing support throughout the course
  • 8 x 2.5 hour sessions each week (refer below for an overview of each session
  • 1 full day silent, teacher-led retreat
  • Teaching and instructions in a range of mindfulness meditation practices focused on the breath, body, thoughts, emotions
  • Gentle yoga/movement
  • Group discussions and teachings on the mind and stress reactivity
  • Small and whole groups activities, including enquiry and feedback
  • Teaching and exploration of conditioned/habitual patterns of thinking, feeling and responding
  • Weekly emails to inspire and motivate
  • 30-45 minutes of mindfulness meditation practice each day.

Participants are provided with a workbook as well as audio recordings of guided meditations.

What is covered each week of the course?

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. The MBSR course is about inviting and encouraging people to participate in improving their own health and wellbeing. This is achieved through the exploration of the following themes each week:

Week 1: Recognising the present moment

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

Week 3: The pleasure and power of being present

Week 4: Investigating stressful experience and finding another place to stand

Week 5: Finding another place to stand

Week 6: Interpersonal mindfulness

Week 7: Cultivating kindness towards yourself and others

Week 8: Making mindfulness a part of your everyday life

How will you benefit from the course?

The ABC Catalyst Program recently tracked three participants over the 8 weeks of the MBSR course. Watch this video to explore what transpired. (February 2019).

  • Improved capacity to deal with stress and challenging situations
  • Improved ability to respond and relate to pain, stress and difficulty
  • Improved ability to focus and pay attention
  • Improved productivity and efficiency
  • Improved immunity
  • Greater compassion (self and others)
  • Increased sense of satisfaction and ease in life
  • Increased capacity for creativity and problem solving
  • More responsive and less reactive to daily challenges

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 skillfully.

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.

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