What is mindfulness and its connection to mind/body health?
Over the past fifty years there has been expanding research and attention placed on the mind/body connection and its relationship to stress, illness, pain management, health and well-being.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), approximately 40 million adult Americans suffer from anxiety, an acknowledged medical illness that is a normal reaction to stress. Anxiety and stress also affect physical health, and are associated with numerous medical conditions.
The field of Behavioral Medicine has begun to examine the relationship between stress, illness, pain and health. There is mounting evidence that suppressed, internalized stress has a detrimental impact on the mind and body. Awareness can play an extremely important and complementary role in the beginning steps of integration and well-being.
By cultivating the practice of non-judgmental awareness or mindfulness, one can begin to develop problem-solving strategies and seek new options. There may be a quicker recovery of mental equilibrium and physical homeostasis. The assets of developing a central and medical-based stress management program can assure professional standards of the highest caliber. Fortunately, we do not need to look far for a successful working model.
MBSR (Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction) is modeled after the pioneering work of Jon Kabat-Zinn, Ph.D., from the University of Massachusetts Medical Center's Stress Reduction Clinic. This 8-week structured program is designed specifically for people who are experiencing stress in their daily lives and wish to promote healthy living. To date, this powerful program is taught in over 600 hospitals, clinics and wellness centers throughout the U.S. Additionally, MBSR has made it's way into corp America and is being woven into the fabric of employee wellness campaigns and benefits.
Participants are asked to commit to 8 weekly classes, an all-day session after the 6th week, and homework, including reading (A Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction Workbook) and practicing the curriculum contemplative techniques using a CD or download.
MBSR consists of learning and practicing the formal and informal methods of mindfulness, including the body scan, sitting meditation, gentle yoga and walking meditation. Each session includes practice, lecture and group support and is designed to teach mind/body awareness and delivers tools for effectively coping with the physical and/or psychological symptoms of stress, pain or illness.
In summary, the practice of mindfulness is unlearning the habitual patterns that fuel our stress and reactivity. Mindfulness is living life consciously, one moment at a time.
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