Mindfulness is a basic human quality, a way of learning to pay attention to whatever is happening in your life that allows you a greater sense of connection to your life inwardly and outwardly. Mindfulness is also a practice, a systematic method aimed at cultivating clarity, insight, and understanding.
In 1979, Jon Kabat-Zinn founded the Stress Reduction Clinic at the University of Massachusetts to bring a form of meditation known as mindfulness into the medical mainstream. In the context of health, mindfulness is a way to experientially learn to take better care of yourself by exploring and understanding the interplay of mind and body and mobilizing your own inner resources for coping, growing, and healing.
More than three decades of scientific research at medical centers all over the world suggests that training in mindfulness and MBSR can positively and often profoundly affect participants' ability to reduce medical symptoms and psychological distress while learning to live life more fully.
Wednesdays, 2 - 4:30 pm, Begins January 4, 2017 – February 22, 2017.
All-day retreat will be held Saturday, February 11, 2017, 9 – 3 pm.
The program consists of 8 weeks of 2.5 hour classes and a one-day retreat. Highly participatory, supportive, and structured, this course will provide you with:
Guided instruction in mindfulness meditation practices
Gentle stretching and mindful yoga
Group dialogue and discussions aimed at enhancing awareness in everyday life
Individually tailored instruction
Daily home assignments
Home practice materials including mindfulness practice CDs and a workbook
- CEUs available, 26 contact hours
Weekly class descriptions:
Herestudentswillreceiveanoverviewofthecourseandestablishthelearningcontextfortherestofthe experience. Students will learn the theory and evidence of mind-body medicine and how to apply it in their lives. Students will be experientially introduced to mindful eating, mindful breathing, and the body-scan method, with a special emphasis on what it means to be fully engaged in the present moment.
Perception is key in mindfulness—how one sees things (or doesn't see them) will determine in a large part how they respond. This week's session and practices will ask students to examine their perceptions, assumptions, and the way they view the world. Students will learn to use the body-scan practice to cultivate a greater degree of awareness of how they react to stressful situations. Changing the way one perceives and responds to difficulties and challenges will impact the short- and long-term effects of stress on their mind and body.
In this session, students will practice several distinct yet interrelated mindfulness practices—mindful hatha yoga, sitting meditation, and walking meditation. This is an ideal time to share insights about experiences with formal practice and integrating mindfulness into daily life. Students will discover that there is both pleasure and power in being present—group discussions will directly attend to and investigate how these experiences create such reactions as pleasure or discomfort in the mind and body.
By practicing mindfulness, we cultivate curiosity and openness to the full range of our experience, and through this process our ability to pay attention becomes more flexible. This week, the practice will focus on the development of the ability to concentrate and systematically expand one’s field of awareness. Students learn about the physiological and psychological bases of stress reactivity, and experience mindful strategies for responding in positive, proactive ways to stressful situations.
At the halfway point in this course, students will now be familiar with the foundations of mindfulness and able to focus on applying it more rapidly and effectively to specific challenges and stressors in life. This week students will begin to pay attention to the places where they might be stuck in repeating, unhealthy patterns that they can disarm through mindful awareness. They will also learn how to apply mindfulness at the critical moment when they experience a physical sensation, intense emotion, or condition, with special attention to exploring the effect of reactivity in health and illness.
Resilience or “stress hardiness” is our ability to return to equilibrium after stressful situations. This week, will focus on transformational coping strategies to broaden inner resources and enhance resilience through mindfulness practice. Students also learn the fundamentals of interpersonal mindfulness—applying awareness and presence at times when communication becomes difficult or fraught with strong emotions. Students gain direct experience of a variety of styles for more effective and creative interpersonal communication.
Full day retreat:
This day-long guided retreat will take place between weeks six and seven. The intensive nature of this six- hour-plus session is intended to assist in firmly and effectively establishing the use of MBSR skills across multiple situations in life, while simultaneously preparing students to utilize these methods far beyond the conclusion of the program. Having established a daily mindfulness practice during the previous 6 weeks, students will be better prepared to benefit from this retreat.
Mindfulness is most effective when it is a lifetime commitment. This week, students will explore the many ways that they can integrate mindfulness more fully and personally into their lives. While having a dedicated regular practice for mindfulness meditation is important and beneficial, it is just as important to bring a broader sense of awareness and presence to every moment in life, and to use non-judgmental mindfulness in your self-reflection and decision-making processes. Students will learn how to maintain the discipline and flexibility of daily practice as circumstances change over the course of their life.
In the final week of the program, students will have a complete review of everything they've learned over the course, with an emphasis on carrying the momentum they've built forward into the coming months and years. They will learn about resources available to you to pursue mindfulness in new directions as life and practice evolve, as well as the support systems that exist to help them to continue to integrate, learn, and grow. The final lesson creates a satisfying closure by honoring both the end of this program and the beginning of the rest of life.