Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction To the Rescue

What is mindfulness based stress reduction? It is common to think of meditation as a quiet state of mind where you push out all thoughts, memories, images, and other bodily sensations.

The goal is to remain contemplative and still with a clear mind for an extended period of time. That is the form of meditation that most people are familiar with today, but Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, or MBSR, is becoming more popular in the Western world.


MBSR was originally practiced in the Buddhist tradition, but as a separated technique it has been thoroughly studied and proven to be effective in the modern world.

Jon Kabat-Zinn, Professor of Medicine Emeritus at the University of Massachusetts, has done considerable amounts of research into the practice and has helped to alert the Western world to its effectiveness. Many other Western doctors and scholars have carried out research and found it to be very effective as well.

Some of the main uses of MBSR today include stress relief and pain control. It has also been found effective in the treatment of anxiety, depression and other mental conditions. It is also believed that regular practice can give the immune system a boost, which means the body is less susceptible to disease and illness.

This makes the practice a great tool for anyone struggling to overcome a disease, mental illness, or extreme pain.

What is it?

The easiest way to understand Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction is to consider it meditation turned upside down.

The goal is still to sustain a peaceful state of mind for a period of time, but you want to fully embrace all thoughts, emotions, images and sensory sensations. Rather than pushing them out of the mind, you feel them fully.

All of the energy passing through the body or the mind is fully embraced and accepted. This is the practice of being in the moment or becoming one with the moment. The focus is on the here and now, rather than the past or the future.

Most people completely miss or push aside the majority of thoughts and emotions that they experience every day. If something is perceived to be inappropriate to the moment, unacceptable to society, or otherwise shameful or misplaced, it is often ignored or somehow pushed back.

Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction focuses on the principle of mindfulness, which is designed to acknowledge and embrace everything that comes over the body and through the mind without those judgments.

The goal is to feel and experience everything that your body and mind picks up from the world around you, but it is not to judge what is picked up. You should embrace and fully experience everything in your mind and everything overcoming your body at a given moment, but you should not perceive it as negative or positive.  

For example, a woman who is unable to have children may feel jealousy and extreme sadness when encountering a mother with a newborn baby in a social setting. Since those emotions are incredibly painful and often lead to emotional displays that would be considered inappropriate to the social setting, the woman pushes the emotions away and distracts her mind so all thoughts of babies are dismissed. The emotions are still there, but they are not being acknowledged.

If practicing Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, the woman would have the opportunity to sit quietly and feel those emotions without judging them as wrong or inappropriate. They are simply her perceptions of the environment she is in at the moment.

This would obviously not be done in the middle of a social gathering if the emotions are too raw to control, but you get the idea of how Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction can work for many people who have trouble connecting with, accepting, or acknowledging their emotions and thoughts.

Practical Examples

If you want to learn MBSR for stress relief or any other health problem, there are simple exercises you can practice on your own. Here are some ideas to get you started:

1. Go for a walk in a park and pay attention to all sensory details of the present moment. The goal is to be in the moment without dwelling in the past or worrying about the future. Become one with the park during this walk.  

2. Decide that you will open your mind to the present moment and feel all of the energy crossing your body for a given period of time each day. This is the time to feel the world around you in the present moment, no matter where you happen to be at the time.

3. Allow yourself to feel emotions and embrace thoughts without judging yourself. Give yourself the right to feel and think as you do in the moment, without it feeling wrong or inappropriate. 

From Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction to the main page about Meditation Benefits

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