Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction – What You Should Know
In 1979, Jon Kabat-Zinn founded the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Clinic at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center in response to problems at the hospital’s eczema clinic. The treatment for severe eczema was standing still in UV light booths for hours a day for 6 weeks at a time. Patients were jumping out of their skin not because of their skin disease, but because their mind was not letting them relax into the experience. A practicing Buddhist, Jon introduced mindfulness meditation methods he learned as part of Buddhist practice and the outcomes were shocking. Not only did patients tolerate the sessions, but those practicing meditation experienced their skin clearing in 4 weeks instead of 6.
This triggered lots of scientific research and we now know meditation has many benefits beyond stress reduction, such as lowering blood pressure, creating a resistance to anxiety and depression, speeding the efficacy of vaccinations and many others. He developed an 8-week training program coining the phrase Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction.
20 Years of Experience
I have been teaching meditation and mindfulness as well as Chi Kung and Tai Chi for over 20 years and use mindfulness as part of my practice. We do not need an 8-week program to learn mindfulness and most of us to some degree know and use mindfulness already. For example, when you taste something for the first time. We are all aware, sensing the tastes and odors and then we switch to our ego state as we announce our opinion of what we tasted. We did not have to reference the past or self-identify as who we are as the food rolled around our mouth and we sorted through the textures and flavors.
It was purely sensational and that is mindfulness, even if but for a few seconds. In judging the taste, we now reference the past to compare it to another such experience and the “I” then passes judgement as we say “wow, this is delicious, I am going to have some more”. The switch to “I” is not just self-referencing, it is separating us from the food and from the taste. There is now me and the food and we are separate versus being the experience of exploring and discovering new flavors and sensations. In our brain completely, different neural anatomy is activated when we switch.
Being an I, require thought and history. If history is unpleasant, then our self-referencing experience of I will not be pleasant. Only an “I” can feel sad, hurt, angry, etc. If I choose to be in awareness, I am tuning into my sense fields and experiencing the world via sensation, not thought or emotion. Everything is as it is and is neutral. It can only be experienced in the present so there cannot be any “I”. No I, no pain or suffering so there can be an advantage to practicing awareness also known as mindfulness.
Contact me today to find out more about Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction therapy and other treatment options that I offer in the Huntington New York area.