Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) 

Welcome to this moment. The only moment you ever really have to experience your life.

Whatever brought you to this part of the LifeWorks Recovery website, take a moment to inquire, “What is happening in my experience, right now?” Perhaps you are seeking a solution. An answer. You may be trying to get somewhere in your life and feel stuck. Maybe you’re running from something or seeking relief from whatever causes your suffering.

Welcome to this moment. Right now you are exactly where you are supposed to be.

No need to do anything. No need of fix or change or improve. Allow yourself consider for just a moment that you are a whole person already, right now! And that as long as you can find your breath, which can only happen in the present moment, there is more that is right with you than is wrong with you.

Mindfulness

Mindfulness is quite the buzzword these days. Even Anderson Cooper of NBC has reported on his experience of mindfulness practice in a 60 Minutes interview with Center for Mindfulness’ Judson Brewer, PhD. There are many who seem to use mindfulness as a tag word without a deep, personal understanding of what mindfulness is and what it is not. Mindfulness can be defined simply as the moment-to-moment awareness that arises as one pays attention to one’s own experience in the present moment without judgment.

Through the consistent practice of mindfulness we can cultivate a posture where we learn to let go of outcomes, solutions, and the need to know and control. We begin to accept the fact that sometimes life is not the way we would like it to be. Because mindfulness is not attached to outcomes, it cannot correctly be defined as a meditation technique. Techniques are by definition intended to help you improve something. So mindfulness is not a technique; it is a lifestyle. It’s a mindset through which we can approach the uncertainty that comes with letting go of our attempts to control and understand our thoughts, emotions, physical experience, whether they are pleasant, unpleasant or neutral.

Can mindfulness help you reduce your stress? Yes, it can. The alleviation of suffering is, however, a by-product of changing your relationship to stress and stressors. We do this through approaching and rising to meet the difficult and the unpleasant things in life. Not trying to avoid them.

Is Mindfulness for you?

Your life can be deeply effected by the stress life brings as well as by the stress you add into the mix when you try to control circumstances. So, there is two kinds of stress “life stress” and “you stress”. One of the ways stress is experienced is in a lack of agency, effectiveness, and resilience in approaching things outside of our control (life stress) and those things that are within our control (you stress). Perhaps you feel stuck and ineffective when you try to meet the challenges you face. You may have trouble in difficult conversations, work problems, relationships, achieving goals, as well as in physical, emotional, and psychological problems.

Believe it or not, you have your own stress patterns. When the stress hits you, instantly, without realizing it, you find yourself going down that your own familiar path of fight or flight when faced with the unwanted. Interestingly, if we are not living in the present moment, pleasant experiences can also be stressful!

What if you could become familiar with your stress reaction patterns? Through paying attention to your experience in the present moment with interest and openness, it is possible to begin to befriend the uncertainty that makes life full and rich. The difference between mindful living and mindless living is that in the former, one is able to dwell with mystery and uncertainty, and in the latter, one strives to cling to dwelling in answers and what is known.

Mindfulness can help you cope with life events. Grieving, end-of-life transitions, receiving a terminal diagnosis, losing a job, getting a divorce, and a myriad of other situations cannot be controlled. Sooner or later, we all experience moments like these and we all begin to seek answers. We all want to know, “How can I keep going when this is happening to me?”

You might begin to practice mindfulness to respond to a major life event, to find stability in recovering from an addiction, or, even more deeply and mysterious in nature, to seek more self-acceptance and self-compassion and a sense of being centered and connected with yourself. Whatever brings you to read about mindfulness right now, what you’ll discover about yourself is that underneath the outer layer of your familiarity with yourself is a deeper, much wiser state of being.

Consider now what it means to be a human being, rather than a human doing.
Consider how your “human do-ing” might be where the “you stress” is coming from.

What is Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR)? 

MBSR was designed by Jon Kabat-Zinn, PhD, at the Center for Mindfulness (CFM) at the University of Massachusetts. Based on the concepts of mindfulness meditation practices, MBSR teaches mindful meditation, breathing and movement. Mindfulness can be defined simply as the moment-to-moment awareness that arises as one pays attention to one’s experience in the present moment without judgment.
Clinical research shows that MBSR is effective in empowering people to respond to and cope with chronic pain, hypertension, heart disease, cancer, and gastrointestinal disorders, as well as psychological problems, such as anxiety, stress and panic. MBSR is also clinically proven to support relapse prevention in both substance and process addictions.
Mindfulness can be learned by anyone, even those who have not had any previous experience with mindfulness or other forms of meditation. In addition to alleviating various forms of suffering, students who develop a long-term practice of MBSR deepen their understanding of the nature of the human mind and heart, helping them approach themselves and others with greater receptivity and self-compassion.

Rapidly expanding research demonstrates that those who maintain a regular mindfulness practice experience increased emotional wellbeing, less anxiety, depression, and stress, and maintenance of healthy habits such as diet and exercise, and satisfying personal relationships.

What is the 8-week MBSR course like?

The 8-Week MBSR Course is taught by Aaron Hunt, CFM Qualified MBSR Teacher. Course activities include meditation, short talks, experiential exercises, group discussion, and home practices. The goal is for participants to experience directly moment-to-moment awareness and to learn practices that cultivate more skillful ways of approaching challenges in everyday life.

Each class builds on the one before it in a linear fashion. Between classes, students engage in mindfulness meditation using guided meditations provided by Aaron as well as other exercises. In each class, we will have an opportunity to talk about your experiences with the home practices, any obstacles that may arise, and how to approach them skillfully. Each class is organized around a theme that is explored through both group discussion and mindfulness practice.
MBSR is a training program that emphasizes strengthening the capacity to be aware of and to awaken to a full life that is only available in the present moment. We experience positive change as we develop the capacity to be with ourselves with kindness and self-compassion, whether we are experiencing pleasantness, unpleasantness, or neutrality.

While some difficult emotions and experiences may arise when practicing mindfulness, Aaron understands that these are all be part of the journey is trained to provide a safe, supportive environment for participants to explore and process these difficulties.

MBSR includes 8 weekly sessions each about 2.5 hours in length as well as an all-day retreat, all of which are conducted at LifeWorks Recovery.

Aaron Hunt
MS, LPC, NCC, ASAT
CFM Qualified MBSR Teacher
aaron@lifeworksrecovery.com│469-444-2787 ext. 104

Aaron has participated in and completed the UMass Center for Mindfulness (CFM) Practice Teaching Intensive, which is the second formal program in Teacher Education and is taught by Senior Teachers at the CFM, and has received the designated title of CFM Qualified MBSR Teacher.