What is mindfulness?

Mindfulness is awareness of the full experience of the present moment. In mindfulness meditation, we typically focus on certain elements, such as the breath, body, sounds, emotions and thoughts, to cultivate and sustain connection to the present.

What is mindfulness-based-stress reduction or MBSR?

MBSR is an 8-week curriculum, which combines mindfulness practices with group processing and psychoeducation around stress. It was founded in 1979 by molecular biologist and meditation teacher Jon Kabat Zinn

Is MBSR related to Buddhism?

Yes. The core of MBSR is mindfulness, which is a key component of Buddhism. Many of the meditation techniques have been taken directly from Buddhist practices. But MBSR is a secular application, so there are no religious elements in the course. It also involves elements such as group processing and stress physiology.

What will we do in an MBSR course?

In-class activities including meditation, gentle yoga, small group sharing, and talks by the instructor about stress and meditation.

How many people are in the course?

Courses typically have between 8 and 20 participants.

How old do I have to be to take the course?

The minimum age is 18, though 17-year-olds may be allowed to take the course on a case-by-case basis.

Will I meditate outside of the course?

Yes, participants are asked to mediate between 45 minutes and 1 hour, six days per week. You will be given guided meditations for this purpose.

What if I can’t sit that long?

Many participants have this worry initially, but find that meditating is actually easier than they think. The instructor will be able to assist you if you find the practice to be daunting.

I’m going to miss some classes. Is that OK?

Attendance at the weekly classes is crucial, both for your own knowledge and to support the group. We ask that participants make an effort to attend all classes. At the same time, we understand that there will be things in life that will make it impossible to attend. However, it is suggested that you not take the course if you think you will miss more than 2 classes. If you are going to miss a class, please let the instructor know.

I have injuries. What if I can’t do the yoga?

The movement practice in MBSR is a very gentle form of Hatha yoga. We ask participants to always “underdo it,” never pushing to their max. You are welcome to adapt the postures however you like, including sitting in a chair. Additionally, you are encouraged not to do postures that are painful to your body.

The course is too expensive for me. Is there a way to get financial aid?

Yes, financial aid is available. You can read more here.

What sort of results can I expect?

Results from MBSR programs vary from person to person, but the vast majority of participants report lower levels of stress and chronic pain at the completion of the course. You can read testimonials from past participants.

How do you know that MBSR helps with chronic pain?

There are a number of studies that show that mindfulness helps alleviate chronic pain. Here’s a link to a paper that reviews many of the different studies on mindfulness and chronic pain

I suffer from anxiety. Can mindfulness help me?

Yes, mindfulness interventions have been shown to alleviate symptoms of anxiety. Here’s a study that looked broadly at mindfulness and anxiety.

What other conditions have MBSR and mindfulness practices been shown to benefit?

Asthma, cancer, diabetes, fibromyalgia, gastrointestinal disorders, heart disease, HIV, hot flashes, hypertension, major depression, mood disorders, sleep disturbance and stress disorders, as well as others.

Check out this page from the Umass school of mindfulness for links to studies about those conditions.

Will MBSR cure my conditions?

MBSR is best described as an adjunct to conventional medicine. Participants should not stop taking their medications or expect their conditions to be cured. However, it is common to see a decrease in the symptoms of some chronic conditions.

Does MBSR change your brain?

Yes, MBSR has been shown to create actual changes in the structure of brain. This interview with Harvard neuroscientist Sara Lazar is a good primer on the subject.

I want to learn to meditate but I don’t have time for the 8-week class. Are there other options?

Feel free to drop by our weekly sit on Saturdays, between 11:30 and 12:30, at the Broadmoor Arts and Wellness Center. Also, here is a list of other mindfulness groups in the area

I’m not stressed out and don’t have chronic pain. But I want to learn to meditate. Can I take this course?

Absolutely. You do not need to have a chronic condition to benefit from this practice.

How do I register for a course?

Just fill out the form on the registration page.

Is there a video I can watch about MBSR?

Yes, check out this dated, yet compelling 1996 piece by Bill Moyers.

I have additional questions. Who can I send them to?

Send them to dan@nolamindfulness.com