It is a form of stress relief rooted in the practice of mindfulness and cognitive therapy and based around a structured programme originally developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn
approximately 20 years ago, at the University of Massachusetts Medical Centre.
He worked with patients who were referred from clinics where they had been unsuccessfuly treated for their symptoms for a number of years.
Developing present moment awareness
The programme uses mindfulness meditation to reduce symptoms of stress, anxiety, depression and pain.
Kabat-Zinn used mindfulness meditation techniques based on Buddhist meditation practices, particularly insight meditation or Vipassana.
At root mindfulness has been described as paying attention or observing what is going on inside your head and your body with intention but without judgment or internal narrative.
Typically, a mindfulness based stress reduction training includes lying, sitting and walking meditation, and later everyday activities like brushing your teeth, washing dishes and taking out the rubbish.
Practitioners are encouraged to observe all of their experiences, thoughts and feelings with a detached interest.
This is all about bringing your awareness into the present moment - focusing on what is happening now.
A mindful, present moment awareness reduces stress, anxiety and depression, which are invariably triggered by worrying about future or past events.
A brief introduction to mindfulness based stress reduction
The academic perspective
"Mindfulness-based stress reduction and health benefits - A meta-analysis" by: Paul Grossman - Freiburg Institute for Mindfulness Research, Freiburg, Germany [and others]
"Our findings suggest the usefulness of MBSR as an intervention for a broad range of chronic disorders and problems. In fact, the consistent and relatively strong level of effect sizes across very different types of sample indicates
that mindfulness training might enhance general features of coping with distress and disability in everyday life, as well as under more extraordinary conditions of serious disorder or stress."
"Used therapeutically, mindfulness-based therapies have been shown effective as a treatment or complementary treatment for more serious conditions such as borderline personality disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, and depression.
Mindfulness-based stress reduction has been effectively used to help treat everyday stress, as well as the more significant stresses experienced by people with HIV, heart disease, and other serious chronic health conditions.
It can be learned through classes or by a trained therapist; however, it’s also possible to practice mindfulness exercises learned online to effectively manage stress."
A more comprehensive introduction from Jon Kabat-Zinn
Meditation for anxiety
Mindfulness and smoking - breaking the core addictive loop
In this fascinating article, Dr Judson Brewer suggests that mindfulness decouples the link between craving and smoking, effectively dismantling the core addictive loop by helping people ride out their cravings instead of acting on them.