Mindfulness is the practice of paying conscious attention to the present moment and is an effective means of combatting everyday stress, pain, and illness.
MBSR (Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction) is an evidence-based program developed at the University of Massachusetts Medical School by Jon Kabat Zinn in 1979 to assist people suffering from stress, anxiety and depression.
Meditation is a mind-body practice that teaches individuals to tune in to the present moment and cultivate nonjudgmental, compassionate awareness. Meditation can help reduce stress, anxiety, depression and pain while simultaneously improving heart health, immunity, sleep quality and energy.
Meditation can also help alleviate stress-related conditions like high blood pressure, chronic pain and autoimmune disease. Studies show that it reduces inflammation-triggering cytokines that worsen symptoms associated with these conditions.
Establishing a mindful practice takes time, effort, and commitment, but you can start off simply by becoming aware of your breath and thoughts as they arise in a stream of awareness, then selecting something like an object (sound, body sensation or memory) to focus on for just one or two moments at a time.
Simply observe any feeling or thought without judgment and return your focus back onto breathing – this is known as mindfulness meditation. Another form of relaxation meditation includes guided imagery or visualization: imagine relaxing scenes to help create relaxation.
Yoga has long been revered as an effective means of relieving stress. The benefits include breathing exercises, body stretching and strengthening exercises and encouraging the release of feel-good endorphins that promote positive emotions.
Practice of mindfulness through yoga has shown remarkable effects in combatting anxiety. Mindfulness emphasizes staying present and present-minded rather than dwelling on memories from the past or future worries, accepting what’s happening without judgment (Center for Mindfulness 2017).
Are you interested in trying yoga as a means of managing stress levels? Search the Center for Mindfulness website’s search feature to locate an in-person MBSR class near you. MBSR classes were pioneered by Jon Kabat-Zinn at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center in 1979 and involve weekly group classes as well as daily mindfulness exercises to be practiced individually over an eight week period.
3. Tai Chi
Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), created by Jon Kabat-Zinn, is an empirically supported program for treating various medical conditions. It consists of weekly two and a half hour group classes lasting eight weeks along with daily home practice exercises to be completed daily; additionally, an optional daylong silent retreat offers further meditation practices to extend mindfulness meditation practices beyond what the program can provide.
MBSR’s Mindfulness component involves learning how to focus and accept what is happening right now in your life, including body sensations, thoughts and emotions. According to research findings, mindfulness may help decrease negative emotions such as anger and anxiety as well as chronic pain related to conditions like fibromyalgia.
If you want to try Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), be sure to find a program led by an instructor with extensive training in teaching its techniques. Many university medical centers, hospitals, and community organizations offer such classes.
4. Mindful Walking
Walking is often the first physical activity people engage in each day, making it an excellent way to start practicing mindfulness. As you walk, make an effort to notice even minute movements and shifts in sensation in your body – start with your feet as they come in contact with various surfaces before shifting focus onto arms, torso and finally neck and head sensations.
Mindful walking is an easily accessible practice that can be practiced any time during the day, providing numerous health benefits that include increased feelings of well-being, reduced blood pressure and heart rate, better sleep quality, easing stress and pain management, as well as helping manage them more effectively.
Jon Kabat-Zinn first developed Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center for his patients suffering chronic pain in 1979; since then it has proven its efficacy against various conditions. For more information about MBSR near you, search online using “MBSR and your city name,” or go directly to this link provided by The Center for Mindfulness for courses offered near your area.