Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) consists of foundational practices to help us embody and honor our core integrity and relax chronic striving. When our mind and emotions are more relaxed, they are more stable, and our life can be more effective and wholesome. Several practices are included in the training so you can see how you resonate with each one. Each one separately and together help relax our tendency to be in reaction during fight or flight and begins to establish new habits of managing our stress and reactivity differently.
The following practices are part of Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR)–
MINDFULNESS MEDITATION: This sitting practice involves us feeling the natural arising and relaxing of our breathing. This is a concentration meditation which is called shamatha. From here we develop insight, vipassana, into what we are doing moment to moment when we observe our ever changing thoughts, emotions and sensations occurring in the moment. This is what we mean by the mind-body connection. This leads to greater opening and insight into our conditioned patterns that keep us addicted to stress, fight and flight, usually unconsciously. When we sit in mindfulness meditation, we become more conscious and have greater awareness into our patterns and habits that are not useful or constructive for us. Some of the meditations are guided and some are done in silence. I begin with very short sessions and build upon this slowly. This has proven to be the most successful for the students of my classes.
COMPASSIONATE BODY SCAN MEDITATION: This practice involves moment to moment awareness of our body and noticing our relationship with our body and our attention to it. We are learning to become more comfortable listening to what our body is telling us and honoring and tending to this differently. Our sense of what is happening within our mind and body connection becomes more intuitive and allows us to pay attention with less inner judgment. We can begin to see how our habits effect our health and we can begin to make changes out of compassion rather than shoulds , comparisons and judgments.
WALKING MEDITATION: This practice is another form of meditation of bringing our attention to the moment of just walking and feeling the physical sensation of this. It is another practice of feeling, paying attention in the moment which is very freeing and revealing. We do not need to be in a forest to appreciate our natural connection to the earth when walking. If we slow down, walking to the car or kitchen can ground and calm us. Our nervous system can learn to appreciate just walking without a cognitive agenda.
LOVING KINDNESS MEDITATION: This practice is very powerful in helping us generate loving kindness from our heart, resolve a hurt or unforgiving feeling and to embody a heart felt sense towards ourselves and others. This can also be a practice of generating compassion and empathy when we feel closed down or negative. We can practice it just for ourselves in the beginning if we have felt particularly harsh and then expand to others. We practice this to give ourselves the opportunity to feel the physical sensation of the heart opening, can call upon this with greater ease whenever we want and begin to allow ourselves to naturally trust and reside here with greater ease.
MINDFUL EATING: This practice is meant to bring our awareness and attention to the five senses while eating or drinking. The benefit of this is to help us slow down when we eat so there is time for a sense of appreciation for our food choices. We can also slow down enough to perhaps determine if we have made the best choice with that food or decide to make changes in our food habits. Those who eat more mindfully tend to feel satiated sooner, eating less. We also can begin to perhaps taste food differently and with greater fullness and appreciation.
MINDFUL MOVEMENT: This incorporates very slow and light yoga and stretching movements as a way to again feel into our bodies which in turn relaxes our mind, body and emotions. Our body releases tension through these movements and again, our mind-body connections feels enlivened, and in harmony. Many people find connection to themselves through these restorative practices.
MINDFULLY COMMUNICATING: Learning more about healthy communication is always a good use of time. Non Violent Communication is used in this class which brings attention to how we communicate and what we can do to express ourselves more mindfully. We can learn to communicate from an observers point of view which includes our thoughts, emotions and sensations, and even judgments and reactivity, and relax the incriminating thoughts and feelings we have about ourselves and others when relating gets charged and heightened. It happens to all of us but we can learn how to learn to related and better understand through an exchange of what the needs are behind all feelings, the good ones and the bad ones.