Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction

Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) is a meditation technique with proven benefits in reduction of stress symptoms and improved quality of life in persons suffering from a variety of physical and mental conditions. Based upon the concept of being "mindful," or having a heightened awareness of the present, this technique can be learned by nearly anyone.

Mindfulness has been defined as the state of attention and awareness of present experiences, bringing oneself in touch with inner wisdom and moment-by-moment awareness of what one experiences and feels. Paying attention to sounds, breathing rhythms, inner feelings, and our reaction patterns to specific situations are all part of being mindful. Mindful meditation, or MBSR, involves a series of simple meditation exercises, often coupled with physical stretching, to help achieve the mindful state.

MBSR was developed in 1979 by Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn and colleagues at the University of Massachusetts Stress Reduction Clinic, the oldest and largest hospital-based stress reduction clinic in the world. MBSR is usually learned through a course lasting several weeks that involves daily practice sessions lasting 20-30 minutes. Formal practice of MBSR involves true meditation exercises, while informal practice can be achieved through attempting to create a non-judgmental, moment-to-moment increased awareness of daily situations. 

Researchers have documented the value of MBSR for stress and symptom management in conditions ranging from sleep disorders to cancer. In a 2001 report in the journal General Hospital Psychiatry, Dr. Diane K. Reibel and coleagues at the Center for Integrative Medicine at Thomas Jefferson University document increased vitality and decreased pain levels in 136 persons with a range of chronic conditions.