Why mindfulness & MBSR?
Living mindfully means that we are profoundly present in our lives. We experience our environment through our senses, as well as engaging with our inner experience, and others, with curiosity, gentleness and respect. We all know the opposite of mindful living – mindlessness – living in a mechanical, or reactive way that feels out of balance.
Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) is an intensive course founded in 1979 by Jon Kabat-Zinn at the University of Massachusetts Medical School to help participants create and sustain their own mindfulness practice. Most people who participate fully in an MBSR course report results such as decreases in physical and psychological symptoms, an increased ability to relax, an enhanced ability to cope with discomforts in life, greater energy and enthusiasm for life and an ability to cope more effectively with stressful situations. There is a list of MBSR research publications on the Center for Mindfulness site.
About the instructor
Laura Stephens is a University of Massachusetts Center for Mindfulness Qualified MBSR teacher. Lead instructor for A Mindful Mess LLC, she lives in York County and teaches throughout Hampton Roads. Her undergraduate degree is from Royal Holloway, a college of the University of London. Find out more about her work.
Reasons people report for taking an MBSR course
stress – related to work, relationships, finances, habits, social situations, and life in general
medical conditions – chronic pain, high blood pressure, diabetes, headaches, fibromyalgia, GI distress, heart disease and more
psychological & emotional distress – sleep disorders, anxiety and panic, depression, grief, OCD eating disorders, negative thinking, anger, impatience, low-self esteem, feelings of helplessness
prevention & wellness – to better cope with chronic pain, as part of a pregnancy plan, to achieve more balance in life, to learn to take care of oneself physically and emotionally, establish healthier patterns and habits, to enhance the quality of interactions with others, feel more peace and happiness, to relax
What if I don’t have time to do the home practice? The practices you do in ‘real life’ – outside of class – are the most important. A genuine commitment to doing them is essential. This might mean making a change to your schedule: getting up early, devoting lunchtime to practice, or making other adjustments for the 8 weeks of the course. If you know that you will not be able to make adjustments to incorporate daily practice, please consider postponing your participation.
Will I need to attend all classes? Due to the participatory nature of the course, attendance at all classes is expected. Please do not miss more than one class. The ‘all day’ retreat is mandatory.
Do I need to have prior experience of mindfulness? No. You only need to be willing to show up for your life.
What if I have mental health issues? A basic level of mental health is presumed. So, if you are experiencing clinical depression or a managing a major upheaval or an addiction, consider that it may make sense to postpone participating. Please note, however, that this course is designed for people who want to deal more effectively with stress and anxiety to experience greater wellness and an appreciation of self, others and the world.
Will I be able to do the movement part? What we do is akin to gentle yoga. Each of us will honor our limits and do what is best for our unique body.