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What is Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction?

Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction is a group program that was developed in the 1970’s and is based on meditation techniques developed by Buddhist monastics over a period of thousands of years. I am a highly trained practitioner teacher of MBSR and also a highly trained meditator and meditation teacher in the Buddhist tradition. I studied MBSR as a group modality however I’ve been adapting it for individuals for more than 10 years. I use MBSR as an adjunct modality for folks who are experiencing high anxiety and stress. I also use it to help people learn how to become aware of body sensations. 

I trained with the original clinic that designed the MBSR program at UMass Worcester, and with Diane Reibel who was in first generation of teachers and teacher trainers in the original program. I have also studied within specific spiritual traditions including the Vietnamese Zen lineage of Thich Nhat Hanh and with Tara Brach in the Vipasana lineage. Tara is also an author and renowned therapist.  I believe that the use of a technology originally developed as a spiritual technology by people in countries we consider to be the “global south” (sometimes called 3rd world) in health care settings in the United States is ethically challenging. As a result of this, I attempt to use this process or technology in the least appropriative way possible in my therapy and teaching. I give credit to the monastics and name the spiritual origins because I don’t believe that we should take something out of its context and decide it can be “secular” just by declaring it is.

Adapted tools from mindfulness based interventions can help you reduce anxiety very quickly. If practiced regularly over a period of 8 weeks you can greatly reduce daily anxiety or the regularity of panic attacks. MBSR can also help you learn how to “feel into your body.” If you feel disconnected from your body or from bodily needs MBSR can help you reconnect in a gentle way. I primarily use MBSR to help stabilize clients experiencing high anxiety and help them prepare for other types of work which can transform the underlying causes of anxiety. Meditation techniques can help you build up internal resources so you have the strength and focus for more challenging therapeutic work. I have lots of clients who say “I have never mediated” or especially “I can’t meditate, I know because I tried.” Everyone can learn to use these approaches with the proper support. 

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