Tag Archive | MBSR

Maps to #Mindfulness – #Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction #MBSR

If you want to create a roadmap to help people understand mindfulness within Western psychology you need to start with the pioneer Jon Kabat-Zinn and his Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction treatment (MBSR). This is just a map to get you started.

MBSR treatment was developed in a behavioural medicine setting for people suffering with stress-related conditions and chronic pain (Baer & Krietemeyer, 2006). MBSR is built around an eight-week course (Kabat-Zinn, 2008). Course providers and clients must practice the meditations (Kabat-Zinn, 2008). During the eight weeks the clients are introduced to formal meditative techniques which they have to practise for forty-five minutes each day (Kabat-Zinn, 2008).

These include paying attention to one’s breathing, and Kabat-Zinn  suggests this is the most important meditative practice that people take away with them (2008). Mindfulness of breathing is used in “the sitting meditation, the body scan, the yoga, and the walking meditation, which are all formal meditation practices” (Kabat-Zinn,2008, p. 57). One of the primary occurrences during meditation is the unending flow of our thoughts. As we pay attention to our breathing, “we see that we live immersed in a seemingly never-ending stream of thoughts” (Kabat-Zinn, 2008, p. 67). A key insight for clients within MBSR is the realisation that they are not their thoughts (Kabat-Zinn, 2008). During meditation, the clients “intentionally practice letting go of each thought that attracts our attention” (Kabat-Zinn, 2008, p. 68). After defining mindfulness, Kabat-Zinn outlines seven attitudinal factors that are at the heart of MBSR mindfulness practice: “non-judging, patience, a beginner’s mind, trust, non-striving, acceptance and letting go” (2008, p. 32).

There are many illnesses treated by mindfulness within MBSR. These come under the general categories of stress, pain and illness (Kabat-Zinn, 2008). Kabat-Zinn’s MBSR treatment is  a paradigm shift  – one that recognizes that “we can no longer think about health as being solely a characteristic of the body or the mind because body and mind are interconnected” (Kabat-Zinn, 2008, p. 151). The popular name for what Kabat-Zinn calls the “full catastrophe” of life is stress (2008).

Stress acts on different levels and so can be analysed biopsychosocially (Kabat-Zinn, 2008). Kabat-Zinn underlines that  “it is not the potential stressor itself but how you perceive it and then how you handle it that will determine whether or not it will lead to stress” (2008, p. 237).  This insight developed by earlier work on stress is accessible through the practice of  mindfulness  –  suggesting that mindfulness practice helps with many conditions by changing our perspective.

Kabat-Zinn’s work is research-based. In his book Full catastrophe living he quotes research supportive of his mindfulness-based approach MBSR (2008). Generally MBSR groups are made up of participants with a wide range of disorders, but it has also been applied to specific disorders, including cancer, heart disease and relationship work with couples (Baer & Krietemeyer, 2006). A randomized controlled trial (RCT) was carried out with cancer patients (Speca, Carlson, Goodey & Angen, 2000, quoted in Speca, Carlson, Mackenzie & Angen, 2006, p. 254). Speca et al state that “participants in the intervention group had significantly less overall mood disturbance, tension, depression, anger…fewer symptoms of stress compared with those still waiting for the program” (2006, p.

254). Other research also shows promising benefits, but further research needs to be done (Speca et al, 2006). There is also empirical support for MBSR in worksite programmes including an RCT by the West Virginia University Wellness programme between 1994 and 1996 which showed that significant health and stress reduction benefits were obtained (Williams, 1996).

There is a very helpful book by Michael Chaskalson called The Mindful Workplace if you want to explore that dimension more closely.

 

Here are some important books:

Baer, R. A., (2006). Mindfulness-based treatment approaches. Burlington: Academic Press.

Baer, R. A., & Krietemeyer, J. (2006). Overview of mindfulness and acceptance-based treatment approaches. In R. A. Baer (Ed.), Mindfulness-based treatment approaches (pp. 3–27). Burlington: Academic Press.

Brantley, J. (2007). Calming your anxious mind. California: Harbinger Publications Inc.

Chaskalson, (2011). The Mindful Workplace. Wiley-Blackwell.

Dahl, J., & Lundgren, T. (2006). Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) in the treatment of chronic pain. In R. A. Baer (Ed.), Mindfulness-based treatment approaches (pp. 285–305). Burlington: Academic Press.

Hayes, S.C. (2005)   Get out of your mind and into your life: The new acceptance and commitment therapy. Oakland: Harbinger Publications Inc.

Kabat-Zinn, J. (2008). Full catastrophe living. London: Piatkus Books.

Lynch, T. R., & Bronner, L. L. (2006). Mindfulness and dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT): application with depressed older adults with personality disorders. In R. A. Baer (Ed.), Mindfulness-based treatment approaches (pp. 217–236). Burlington: Academic Press.

Roth, B.,& Calle-Messa, L. (2006). Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) with Spanish and English-speaking inner-city medical patients. In R. A. Baer (Ed.), Mindfulness-based treatment approaches (pp. 263–284). Burlington: Academic Press.

Segal, Z., Williams, M., & Teasdale, J., (2002). Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy for depression. London, The Guilford Press.

Speca, M., Carlson, L.E., Mackenzie, M.J., & Angen, M. (2006). Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) as an intervention for cancer patients. In R. A. Baer (Ed.), Mindfulness-based treatment approaches (pp. 239-261). Burlington: Academic Press.

Maps to mindfulness – some definitions of #mindfulness in psychology

The tree of mindfulness research and therapies is growing rapidly. It is hard to keep up-to-date with all the developments as they happen. But we can start somewhere. Important work is being done to arrive at consensus on such matters as defining mindfulness, and I’ll come back to that another time. In the meantime here are some definitions.

Mindfulness means different things. It is only fully understood by examining its historical situatedness. Mindfulness within most Western clinical practice has Buddhist roots, although it is not exclusive to Buddhist thought. Mindfulness in Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) has a different topography deriving from Christian contemplative practices and Zen Buddhism (Lynch & Bronner, 2006).

Kabat-Zinn pioneered the use of mindfulness through Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction (MBSR) defining it as “the way of awareness” (2008, p. 19). Brantley, also an MBSR practitioner, calls mindfulness a “basic human quality” (2007, p. 4). It is a human quality based on inner capacities for relaxation, paying attention, awareness, and insight (Brantley, 2007). Brantley further defines mindfulness as “paying attention on purpose, nonjudgmentally, and with a welcoming and allowing attitude. It means turning towards present-moment experience rather than away from it” (2007, p. 5).

Mindfulness meditation is different from other meditative techniques (Brantley, 2007). Brantley states that “Mindfulness is an awareness that is not thinking” (2007, p. 52). This is underlined by meditation teacher Larry Rosenberg who says “Mindfulness is often likened to a mirror; it simply reflects what is there. It is not a process of thinking; it is preconceptual, before thought”.

Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) talks about shifting mental gears from Doing to Being: ‘Mindful awareness -or mindfulness – spontaneously arises out of this Being mode when we learn to pay attention, on purpose, in the present moment, without judgment, to things as they actually are’ (Mark Williams & Danny Penman, Mindfulness: a practical guide to Finding Peace in a Frantic World (p.35).

Mindfulness in Acceptance & Commitment Therapy (ACT) is defined as “learning to see your thoughts in a new way” (Hayes, 2005, p. 6). Mindfulness in DBT is defined as “a state or quality of awareness that involves keeping one’s consciousness alive to the present reality” (Lynch & Bronner, 2006, p. 218).

Mindfulness as a universal human capacity needs to be distinguished from the meditative or mindful awareness practices that cultivate mindfulness, like paying attention to your breath, eating a raisin (or chocolate) mindfully etc. Most of these mindful awareness practices are   ‘reality-focused’, they have no religous or spiritual component.

In the Being mode we learn to see differently, ‘It’s a different way of knowing that allows you to see how your mind tends to distort ‘reality’ ‘ (Williams & Penman, p. 35). These four treatments, MBSR, MBCT, ACT and DBT are the four main therapies out of many that are now  incorporating mindfulness or are based on mindfulness.

I am also interested in mindfulness as it appears in Christianity, as well as in Buddhism. A very good introduction to mindfulness within psychology is Finding Peace in a Frantic World by Mark Williams and Danny Penman. This is especially true because if mindfulness is to be truly understood, I think it needs to be practiced – and this book helps you do that, as well as understand your mind.

Mindfulness needs to be understood and practiced and reflected upon. Christians need to engage with it as they have some important distinctives to talk about, including mindfulness of God.

Here are some other books that I have referred to, or will refer to.

Baer, R. A., (2006). Mindfulness-based treatment approaches. Burlington: Academic Press.

Baer, R. A., & Krietemeyer, J. (2006). Overview of mindfulness and acceptance-based treatment approaches. In R. A. Baer (Ed.), Mindfulness-based treatment approaches (pp. 3–27). Burlington: Academic Press.

Brantley, J. (2007). Calming your anxious mind. California: Harbinger Publications Inc.

Dahl, J., & Lundgren, T. (2006). Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) in the treatment of chronic pain. In R. A. Baer (Ed.), Mindfulness-based treatment approaches (pp. 285–305). Burlington: Academic Press.

Hayes, S.C. (2005)   Get out of your mind and into your life: The new acceptance and commitment therapy. Oakland: Harbinger Publications Inc.

Kabat-Zinn, J. (2008). Full catastrophe living. London: Piatkus Books.

Lynch, T. R., & Bronner, L. L. (2006). Mindfulness and dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT): application with depressed older adults with personality disorders. In R. A. Baer (Ed.), Mindfulness-based treatment approaches (pp. 217–236). Burlington: Academic Press.

Segal, Z., Williams, M., & Teasdale, J., (2002). Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy for depression. London, The Guilford Press.

Maps to mindfulness – brief overview some main treatments #mindfulness

 

Literature on mindfulness within psychotherapy is increasing dramatically. Germer (2005) lists connections with cognitive behavioural therapy, psychodynamic psychology, humanistic psychology, brain science, ethics, spirituality, health psychology and positive psychology.

Williams and Zylowska in their Mindfulness Bibliography on the website of the Mindful Awareness Research Centre, UCLA Semel Institute, list six main clinical mindfulness treatments: Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT), Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), Mindfulness Meditation and Training, Psychotherapy Integration (2009). They categorize MBSR and MBCT as mindfulness-based, using “formal mindfulness training (meditation) as a primary treatment modality” (Williams & Zylowska, 2009, p. 54). They categorize ACT and DBT as mindfulness-incorporating treatments (Williams & Zylowska, 2009, p. 31). These two treatments “include mindful awareness as a treatment goal and may or may not include formal mindfulness training” (Williams & Zylowska, 2009, p. 54).

Baer and Krietemeyer, in their overview of mindfulness-based approaches, list Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) and Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) as the four main approaches (2006).

 

Link to Mindful Awareness Research Centre: http://marc.ucla.edu/default.cfm

 

mindful eating

On Tuesday someone paid for us to go to Bel Canto the restaurant in London where the waiters and waitresses sing opera as you eat. It was an opportunity to eat mindfully as the starter and main course were exquisitely presented and full of flavour. It was probably the best fish soup starter I have ever savoured.

But what does it mean to eat mindfully, and who advocates it?

I first came across the idea of eating mindfully in Carl Honore’s book In Praise of Slow, where he talks about the Slow Food movement started in Italy by culinary writer Carlo Petrini. One of the ideas in this combatting fast food is to eat much more slowly and really savour the food as you eat – really paying attention to what you put on your plate and how you eat it. As someone who lived on a tea estate and was taught how to make a pot of tea with tea leaves and who lamented the rise of tea bags this really appealed to me.

I then came across mindful eating exerices in psychology. Therapies like Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) have a mindfulness exercise where you eat one raisin, really paying attention to it with all your senses. Mark Williams and Danny Penman have a similar exercise in their book Mindfulness- a practical guide to Finding Peace in a Frantic World they call the Chocolate Meditation.

These mindful eating exercises are called reality-focused, that is they are not religious but neutral and can be used by anyone, even thought they have their roots in Buddhist Insight Meditation.

But should Christians eat mindfully? Of course they should, because Christians are called to be reality-focused. But also Christians should be able to add another dimension to mindful eating. One is to bring back the forgotten art of slowing down before you eat and giving thanks beforehand through what used to be called saying Grace. We can also emphasise the communal aspect of eating together in physical, emotional and spiritual attunement.

In the book of Genesis in the Bible in the first chapter God looks at all He has made and this is what it says, ‘God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.’ (1:31). God looked mindfully at all that He made and declared it very good. We should look at the food on our plate in the same way, with attention, mindfully and aware of its created goodness. And then we should give thanks for the Provider of this goodness.

As Christians we are called to scrupulously honest. We have forgotten to be thankful for the food we have been given, and have been sucked in to eating mindlessly along with most of the world. We haven’t shown the way in mindful eating. We need to be honest and admit that the mindful eating exercises in MBSR and MBCT are a good thing and that others have shown the way to mindful eating. The Slow Food movement is a good thing and we should be part of such a movement especially as it challenges food production values.

Daniel ate mindfully and with awareness (Daniel 1:12) and Jesus turned water into wine. With spiritual awareness our own meals can be transformed into an encounter with God’s grace.