“The awareness that emerges through paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally to the unfolding of experience moment by moment”
(Kabat-Zinn, 2003, p. 145)
In 1979, Jon Kabat-Zinn opened the Stress Reduction Clinic at the University of Massachusetts, blending eastern traditions of healing and wellness with western scientific knowledge on physiology and psychology. Melding these two disciplines, Kabat-Zinn’s research focused on healing, rather than finding a cure.
According to Kabat-Zinn, the first step towards successful mindfulness –based stress reduction (MBSR) is to increase awareness of stress. Then, rather than reacting to stressful situations, develop skills to respond. Eventually, this frees us from automatic reactivity.
With regards to pain, this helps us to acknowledge the experience, understand it better, and to observe its patterns.
A few ways to practice MBSR are as follows:
Meditation: Based in Buddhist tradition, Mindfulness Meditation is a central technique in mindfulness, and is often a basis for the techniques listed below it. During meditation, individuals are encouraged to focus on the present moment and in particular to pay attention to their private, internal phenomenon with the goal of facilitating calmness and stability
While focus is often on the breath, incoming thoughts and feelings are not suppressed, ignored, or criticized. Instead, those doing MM are encouraged to observe these phenomena non-judgmentally as they come into awareness. Thus, often distressing thoughts and feelings are observed calmly in a relaxed, non-critical atmosphere
Breath awareness: Often key in yoga, among other techniques, it involves staying in the present by quietly observing the natural flow of breath. Notice the inhalation and exhalation of breath, without forcing or controlling the breath. The mind is focused, but not strained
Body Scan: Often a guided exercise: involves focusing attention on various parts of the body, often in an attempt to be mindful of bodily sensations as well as noticing tension in these areas.
Yoga: A type of exercise that requires you to be mindful of your body positions at all times. You must also be conscious of your breath throughout. The flow of breath often guides movement.