Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) is an eight-week intensive course designed to transform your relationship to stress and increase your enjoyment of life. MBSR was developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn at the University of Massachusetts and has been extensively studied since the late 1970s. MBSR is not simply a course in learning how to meditate or even a course in how to practice mindfulness—though it will help you do that, too. Instead, this powerful curriculum leads you through a process of bringing mindfulness to the challenges of your own life.
The course is called "mindfulness-based" because the core teachings are around how to be present in our lives, with ease; in other words, how to be mindful in all of our moments. Mindfulness has two main components: 1) being present, focused, attentive, aware and concentrating on THIS MOMENT; and 2) being at ease with, as well as friendly and kind to, our own experiences. This course teaches both sets of skills, in detail.
More and more scientific studies are implicating "stress" as a causative factor in medical conditions—everything from diabetes to cancer to multiple sclerosis to chronic back pain. The intermediary is inflammation, caused by over-reactive stress hormones. While diet and exercise play a role in decreasing inflammation, so does calming the nervous system directly through mindfulness practice; often within seconds our body begins to activate different genes which bring our system into balance. More than simply "stress reduction," MBSR gives you the skills to thrive in all of life's circumstances, including the very challenging ones, without over-taxing your nervous system.
Maryland University of Integrative Health offers a three-part MBSR program: the MBSR course, a professional MBSR practicum, and an MBSR day-long retreat. All participants are required to attend the MBSR course and retreat; the practicum is optional for those seeking in-depth professional training.
MBSR teaches four types of mindfulness skills. Each of the weekly sessions will build these skill sets:
1) Formal mindfulness meditation practices: Sitting meditation, walking meditation, body scan, mindful movement/gentle yoga, and lovingkindness meditation. Through formal practices you learn focus, awareness, and concentration that stabilize your mind for stressful situations that you might encounter during your day.
2) Applications of mindfulness to everyday activities: Mindful listening, eating, driving, making decisions, planning, and responding to stressful situations—learn to use your mindfulness skills 24/7!
3) Mindful inquiry: Increasing your ability to answer the question "What am I experiencing right now? What am I feeling, what is happening in my body, what am I thinking?”
4) Infusing all of the above with friendliness to your own experience: This is a skill most lacking in our culture. We are trained to seek perfection and chastise ourselves severely though self-criticism and self-judgment when we fall short. For many people, this is a habit that can follow them throughout their days and years – though like any habit, it can be changed and mended. The MBSR course will teach you specifically how to change and mend.
Benefits of MBSR
- Lower stress levels leading to decreases in stress-related symptoms
- Increased ability to relax and enjoy each moment
- Lower pain levels and/or better ability to cope with pain that may not go away
- Improved self-esteem, self-acceptance, energy, and confidence
- Cultivating powerful inner resources for coping with life stressors
Common reasons for learning these skills are:
- Stress – job, family, financial
- Chronic illness or pain
- Anxiety or panic; PTSD
- Caregiver issues
- GI issues (IBS, ulcers)
- Cancer; radiation; chemotherapy
- High blood pressure
- Enhancing wellness
- Grief or loss
- Addiction recovery
- Worry about the future
- Sleep disturbance
Course Format and Content
This course closely follows the recommended guidelines for content, format and number of hours as intended by Jon Kabat-Zinn, the UMASS CFM, and the UCSD MBPTI.
The course consists of eight weeks of 2 ½ hour classes with one extended retreat (see below). Classes are highly participatory and practical. The course includes:
- Guided instruction in mindfulness meditation practices (sitting, walking, and body scan)
- Gentle stretching and mindful yoga (appropriate for all ability levels)
- Exercises that apply mindfulness to challenging situations in everyday life
- Small and large group discussions
- Daily at-home practice (30-40 minutes per day) with specially designed materials
In order to get the most out of the course, both regular attendance of the classes and regular work with the material between classes is required. This may require re-prioritizing the way you spend your time during the course. The more you make mindfulness a priority during the course, the more it is likely to be a resource for you after the course. If you are not able to attend at least seven of the nine course sessions, including attending at least two of the first three sessions, please consider enrolling at a later time.
Practicum: Mindfulness-Based Therapies
The Mindfulness-Based Therapies Practicum is an optional addition to the MBSR course and is based on a professional training model which includes being registered in an MBSR program concurrently. The MBSR course is held in the morning and the MBSR professional practicum is in the afternoon. Those professionals who have taken MBSR within the past six months may apply to take the afternoon practicum, if space is available, and by approval of the instructor. Those interested in pursuing only the practicum should email firstname.lastname@example.org.
This in-depth professional training serves two purposes:
1) For those who wish to use mindfulness in their professional work (therapy, research, teaching, coaching, etc.): This practicum will provide a theoretical orientation and practical skills to incorporate mindfulness into chosen your professional work. Individual attention is given regarding this level of integration. Please be aware that this practicum is not sufficient to teach the formal MBSR curriculum itself without additional professional training, though you will have a solid grounding to introduce mindfulness practices into your own professional setting.
2) For those who wish to become an MBSR/MBCT teacher, this course serves as a practicum for MBSR teachers in training.
Practicum includes becoming part of a learning laboratory in which we use our own experience of learning from MBSR to come to a deeper understanding of professional mindfulness applications. Participants will be expected to fully engage in and make use of their own experiences with the MBSR curriculum.
- Theoretical underpinnings of MBSR and other mindfulness-based interventions
- Solutions to common barriers/problems in introducing and teaching mindfulness interventions
- Discussion of evidence-based literature for mindfulness applications
- Cultivating helpful MBI teacher/therapist characteristics
- MBSR class plans and practical skill sets
- Sensitivities and adaptations for special populations including those with complex trauma, pain and for children/adolescents
- Applications for special populations, with support for integrating these into your target populations
- Opportunity for "teach-backs" of mindfulness meditations with constructive feedback
Opportunity to explore in-depth a mindfulness application of your choice with the support of the instructor. Each participant will have the option of making a brief informal presentation of your chosen topic at the last practicum meeting on May 27.
MBSR Retreat Day
Find peace and ease in your MBSR practice in the supportive company of like-minded people at this silent retreat day, led by Trish Magyari, MS, LCPC. Practices are drawn from MBSR and include sitting meditation, walking meditation on the lovely grounds, mindful movement/gentle yoga, compassion/heart meditations and the body scan. Please bring your own lunch for the mindful eating period as well as a mat/blanket for the yoga and body scan. Chairs are provided. Bring your own meditation cushion if you prefer.
This day-long retreat is required for all MBSR participants and is included in the cost.
About the Instructor
Trish Magyari, M.S., L.C.P.C., RYT-200, is a certified Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) teacher who has taught the full eight-week MBSR course more than 70 times since the 1990s. She is also a mindfulness-based psychotherapist. Trish specializes in teaching mindfulness to those who have chronic pain or other health issues, have anxiety, are grieving, or recovering from PTSD. For the past 12 years she has offered a practicum in mindfulness-based therapies as well as professional apprenticeships, supervision, and mentorship. She is on the faculty of the University of California-San Diego Mindfulness-Based Professional Training Institute as an MBSR mentor, has published two book chapters in the professional literature on trauma-informed mindfulness interventions, and is a teacher with the Insight Meditation Community of Washington (IMCW). Trish is also a teacher of Mindful Self-Compassion and weaves compassion into all of her course offerings.