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Mindfulness courses that help practitioners reduce stress and relax

Saturday, August 04, 2012 by: Kiva Bottero
Tags: mindfulness, stress, relaxation

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(NaturalNews) Research suggests that up to 90 percent of all medical conditions are stress-related, which would easily rank stress as the world's number one killer. With mounting evidence backing up this claim, it's no surprise that stress-reduction programs have been popping up all over the place.

One such program, mindfulness-based stress reduction, has a solid track record. Pioneered by Jon Kabat-Zinn, PhD. over 30 years ago, MBSR is a derivative of mindfulness, a technique that's been practiced by Buddhists and meditation practitioners for thousands of years. To practice mindfulness means to be non-judgmentally aware of what is going on in the present moment. It is both a secular meditation practice and a way of life that requires no prior meditation experience. Mindfulness-based stress reduction is designed specifically to deal with health-related and quality of life issues.

MBSR program

Mindfulness-based stress reduction is typically taught as an eight-week program, delivered through weekly half-hour classes and a one-day retreat on a weekend. Tens of thousands have gone through this mindfulness course in over 200 locations around the world.

The program offers a nice balance of participation and structure. Mindfulness meditations are guided by an experienced instructor, so no previous meditation experience is necessary. Mindful yoga and stretching are also offered to better engage the body. Other practical exercises include mindful communication and group dialogue to help practitioners learn to deal with real-world stressors. There are also home assignments such as audio-based guided mindfulness meditations to ensure regular practice between sessions.

Benefits of mindfulness

MBSR is not considered an alternative to mainstream medicine, but a complement to it - a highly effective complement. Practitioners have reported a number of benefits, such as a better ability to relax, an improved ability to cope with stressful situations, greater energy, and improved self-esteem. But the benefits are not just related to stress, MBSR helps with a variety of medical conditions, including:

* Chronic pain

* Heart disease

* Asthma

* Skin disorders

* Anxiety

* Depression

* Sleep disturbances

The mindfulness-based stress reduction program has also helped people realize an overall improvement in wellness as well as helping many to learn effective strategies for preventing future illness.

Jon Kabat-Zinn and the Center for Mindfulness

Kabat-Zinn has a unique background both as professor of medicine at the University of Massachusetts and as a practitioner of meditation, which have lent legitimacy to MBSR, helping it to become the popular program that it is today.

The Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society is within the University of Massachusetts Medical School. With the backing of a major university, Kabat-Zinn and his colleagues have developed a wide body of research that support mindfulness-based stress reduction's efficacy.


With a strong focus on scientific investigation, the Center for Mindfulness has conducted a number of studies to test mindfulness-based stress reduction. "Since the inception of the Stress Reduction Clinic, MBSR research at UMass and other academic medical centers has shown consistent, reliable, and reproducible demonstrations of major and clinically relevant reductions in medical diagnoses."

The Center for Mindfulness has found that the majority of those who complete the eight-week mindfulness course report lasting decreases in physical and psychological symptoms. Mindfulness-based stress reduction - it's effective and it's backed by scientific research. No wonder it's so popular.


Stress Reduction Program brochure

Center for Mindfulness - University of Massachusetts
Medical School: Stress Reduction Program (http://www.umassmed.edu/Content.aspx?id=41254)

Jon Kabat-Zinn: Biographical Information

About the author:
UB Hawthorn edits and writes for the Engaged Living Network. You can find him online at
The Mindful Word, Green Home Gnome, Green Building Canada and Greenhouse Gnome.

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