How long has MBSR been taught?
The course was established by Dr Jon Kabat-Zinn in 1979. Since then over 20,000 people have completed the course at the Massachusetts Medical Centre in America.
How big is an MBSR class?
An MBSR class can have between 10 and 20 people. A significant part of the class is dedicated to group discussion, particularly to exploring how mindfulness is is being integrated into participants lives. A larger group allows many insights to be shared, most of which will be relevant to all. Whilst discussion is a large part of the program, speaking in front of the large group is completely optional and you can always choose not to. There are many discussions that take place in pairs.
Do I need to do the home practices to benefit from the program?
Yes. MBSR is experiential not theoretical, so doing the practice is perhaps the most important part of the course. We encourage you to do the practise for the duration of the course and to see what it offers you.
It may be useful to consider that whilst finding time may feel like a challenge, adding mindfulness into our lives is ultimately enriching and can help us prioritise and improve efficiency at work and in daily life. Mindfulness can provide us with more energy with which to meet our busy lives.
Will Mindfulness make me more passive?
No. In cultivating mindfulness we are learning to notice how we are with an investigative quality. Because we become more aware of our internal experience we become more able to choose how to respond to our experience, and so become more able to choose how to respond to the people and world around us. Being responsive rather than reactive is called self-regulation. It is an active process.
Will MBSR help me control my thoughts?
In the course you will become very familiar with your own mind. Whilst control is not a goal of MBSR you may discover that you have more choices about where to place your attention. In the class you will be encouraged to notice rather than block out thoughts, emotions and sensations. As you become more practiced at noticing you may find your mind may become quieter. MBSR often facilitates living in the present rather than the past or the future, whilst still being able to know the past and plan for the future. In mindfulness practice you will become more aware of the relationship between thought, feelings and physical sensations.
Does it matter if I miss classes?
It can be tricky to find 8 consecutive weeks in our busy lives. It is fine to miss a class but it is advisable to miss no more than 2 classes, and these should not be consecutive.
Are there risks involved in taking the course?
Throughout the course you will be encouraged to use your own judgment about how you participate. This is especially important in the movement practices.
In the first few weeks of the course, as participants begin to look inside and become aware of inner experience, some might experience perceived increases in pain, anxiety or depression. Please know that you can speak to the facilitator about this and there are always options. Research shows that pain, anxiety and depression most often reduce as the course progresses.
Is MBSR suitable for everyone?
Sometimes it is useful to have the support of a GP or mental health professional when doing the course, and at other times it may be better to delay doing the course. It is best to talk to the facilitator before enrolling if you have had recent thoughts of suicide, or recent or unresolved trauma and have current experiences of severe panic. It is best to do the course when you are well supported and most able to gain from it.
Please do not hesitate to call to discuss whether the course is suitable for you at present.