Frequently Asked Questions

About MBSR

There are a lot of mindfulness classes available now. Is this the original Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction program developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn in 1979?

Yes, it is. You will be taught using the same curriculum currently being used at the Center for Mindfulness, University of Massachusetts Medical School. This course is lead by a teacher distinguished as 'qualified' by the CFM and in alignment with the teacher certification guidelines set by the CFM, including supervision with a Senior Teacher. Teacher credentials are found under the About tab.

Is the MBSR program a support group or group therapy?

No. It is not and was never conceived to be group therapy. It is adult education based and no "advice" is given. The founder, Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn, is a scientist who holds a PhD. in molecular biology from the Massachusettes Institute of Technology. However, innumerable studies have shown the benefits to be medically and psychologically therapeutic. In a MBSR weekly session, the group process is highly participatory and you will be encouraged to share your direct experience of the practices at your comfort level. Guidelines for class participation will be explained at the onset and are designed to encourage a safe and dynamic learning environment. This course offers an atmopshere that allows you to explore your own life and patterns independently and as a group. You are invited to notice and investigate what you find. No one is sharing the actual content or details of their personal life events. Instead, we are focusing on our own reactions and responses to our direct current experiences in the context of the practices being learned in class. The purpose and hope for you is that by taking this program, you will integrate the tools you have strengthened on your own, into your everyday life. If the class does not meet your needs for emotional support, outside support may be encouraged. MBSR is a complement, not an alternative to psychological support. In turn, all health providers and counselors are required to meet the standards set by the CFM to teach their patients MBSR. If you are currently under the care of a therapist- you will be asked to discuss whether the time is right for you to participate. With your written permission, your MBSR teacher can also discuss the program with your therapist.

What is the difference between MBSR and Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT)?

Follow this link https://www.umassmed.edu/cfm/mbct/mbct-mbsr-differences/

Will MBSR be problematic for me?

MBSR is not recommended for people diagnosed with a severe mental illness, suicide ideation, alcohol or chemical addictions within the first year of recovery, recent or unresolved trauma, or if you are in the middle of major life changes. The program intensifies sensitivity and invites participants to take notice and to explore their habits or patterns of behavior. The emphasis is on harnessing awareness to help discover and make new choices rather than fixing, changing or correcting behavior. Please take time to go over the schedule. The CFM has a saying, "It's sometimes stressful to take the stress reduction program." Be sure you are in a place in your life where you can truly commit to your own well-being in this immersion. Practice is a major component to your success. You will be supported. As your teacher, my hope is for everyone to feel successful and to complete the course so you can gain the full benefits of utilizing the tools you have discovered by becoming more awake and aware.

Is MBSR simply a relaxation program?

MBSR provides skills for working with the energy of the mind and body to face whatever is unfolding. This is not always relaxing. It operates from the premise that we all have tremendous inner resources for healing and growing and mindfulness is key to accessing those resources. It is about noticing what is here. You will be encouraged to remain present instead of numbing, blocking out or denying thoughts, sensations, and emotions. By noticing in this way, your may begin to find your mind becoming more focused and quieter and the body may respond with feelings of calmness or tranquility. Some students may experience increased pain, anxiety, or depression in the first few weeks of the program. Awareness brings openness. The potential for coming face to face or taking a look at aspects of life that may seem easier to look away from happens to many. There is research to support a decrease in these potential challenges by the end of the program. From my experiencce, usually by session 3.

Is the program religious or spiritual?

The intention of the MBSR program is to be all-inclusive. The CFM is secular and so is MBSR. This is not diluted Buddhism or 'back door Buddhism.' The foundation of mindfulness meditation is a major tenet of the Buddha's teachings and is originally under the Buddhist tradition. However, mindfulness and MBSR are better understood as a universal commonwealth. Every culture and tradition honors contemplation and the capacity for deeper connection with self, others and our world. A variety of philosophers who speak to this universal quality of mindfulness are utilized in the course as an affirmation of our collective experience. You may find that as your mindfulness practice deepens- so does your own personal connection to whatever belief system you hold.

Is MBSR a meditation or yoga program? What can I expect?

A variety of mindful meditation and yoga techniques are taught in the MBSR program. MBSR is an approach that combines meditation, dialogue, reflective inquiry and mindful yoga and movement. These are powerful mind body practices that are potentially therapeutic and restorative. Some will be more useful or interesting to you than others. Together, we explore a variety of practices including mindful eating (now a part of Weight Watchers) breath awareness, body scanning, walking and loving-kindness meditations. Mindful yoga and movement sequences are gentle and taught in a way that is accessible for everybody regardless of your level of physical fitness. The movements can be practiced in a chair if needed. These full body conditioning exercises are meant to increase strength and to release muscular tension. When you choose to participate in MBSR, in the spirit of cultivating self-awareness, each person is responsible for exercising good judgment and listening to the messages the body gives as to what is appropriate. There is a risk, as in any form of physical exercise, of muscle strain or injury. Self-care and knowing your limits is very important. You willl be offered many options and given the freedom for self-pacing.

What effects can mindfulness practice have on my brain? Is there any scientific research to back up the program as efficacious? Is it evidence based?

Yes. MBSR is listed on the National Registry of Evidence Based Programs and Practices. For nearly four decades, researchers have been studying the benefits of MBSR and mindfulness on the structural and functional impact on the brain. MBSR is used most often as the control approach and MBSR is the program that started the wave of interest in the academic and scientific communities. Studies have shown a reduction in the perception of chronic pain, greater stability in blood glucose levels, blood pressure reduction and decrease in anxiety and depression symptoms. Dr. Sara Lazar, a researcher at Harvard published the following study: Meditation Found to Increase Brain Size http://www.news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2006/02/meditation-fund-to-increase-brain-size Dr. David Creswell, a researcher at Carnegie Mellon adds to the conversation with his findings. An article in the New York Times can be found here: How Meditation Changes the Brain and Body https://www.well.blogs.nytimes.com/2016/02/18/contemplation-therapy/?smid=fb-share&_r=0 The data is exciting as you explore the possibility of attending this course for yourself.

Is mindfulness just a way for me to distract myself and become passive?

No. The practice is more about actively choosing to turn toard challening issues in tour flife and beginning to see the process unfold as an investigation. By approaching your life in this way- you may find new options, insights, and solutions so you can use skillfulness and kindness whenever it is possible. It may help you to respond to situations rahter than react to them. Instead of being passive, you fell more connected to your experiences at the moment they are occurring. Eecn noticing how muc time we spend on technology checking or sending messages or distracting ourselves iwth social media and instant movies- instead of sitting and observing what is around us. Who is around us. The very fact that we are here. This is a kind of a wake up call. MBSR can help with anger and other strong emotions as they are a natural part of life. In this course, you will be encouraged to acknowledge and see the impact of strong emotions. Again, it is not about becoming numb or even calm. But, to begin to see opptions or choices before the emotion overwhelms us, to notice the impact in the moment, and to see a cchoice to respond differently.

I'm really busy and have a hard time sitting still for very long. Is it possible for me to attend a MBSR course?

Yes. Making time to attend a weekly calss and to practice 45 minutes a day can be challenging. Companies like Target, Apple, Google, eBay, Eileen Fischer, General Mills, Ford Motor Corp., professional athletes, musicians, performers and the U.S. Marines using MBSR programs to help priioritize and mange their time more efficientlyat work and to get inot the flow for peak performances. Also consider that taking the time for tourself to rebalance and restore mat actually make toou fell more enrgized to meet hte demands of your busy llife. Researchers have found that muliti-tasking leads to over all lower productivity. Rapidly switching between tasks leads to les ailiy to filter out irrelevant information and more mistakes are made. Yes. Please know this program is meant ot help you experience whatt is present for tyou in the moment. If that happens to be feeling fidgety, then that is what is. Iti is not about sitting still or moving slowly. You will be working with practicing involving walking, lying down, standing and sitting. You will be encouraged to take good care of yourself. And if that meanss taking a break and cocming back- that is your choice. This course mat ve a good opportunity for tyour to explore what is at the root of tour boundaries or edges to notice what it is like to stay with it and notice if it will pherhaps change over time.

Can MBSR reduce my chronic pain?

Yes. Studies show MBSR can reduce the perception of pain. By adopting a relationship with it, tyyou mat noice or experince it shits and chnges. The reseach findings report less limitation due to pain, reduced severity, and more enjoyment in life- even when the pain was present. Click link: Do Mindfulness-Based Interventions Decrease Pain Intensity? A Critical Review of Literature.

Will I be able to teach MBSR after taking this course?

No. However, taking this course with a qualified MBSR teacher (completion of the Teacher Development Intensive in now mandatory) is one of the prerequisites in the 3 year path to becoming a MBSR teacher and to becoming a MiSP .b teacher. Certainly, the skills you learn in this course will serve you in your profession, as a parent, and in your relationships. If you would like more information about becoming a teacher visit: www.umassmed.edu/cfm www.mindfulnessinschools.org

My kid's school teacher is teaching them mindfulness and my therapist or yoga teacher are teaching mindfulness. Why should we take a course?

It is wonderful mindfulness is inspiring so many people. However, research supports the need to find a skillful and practicing teacher. The requirements to become a teacher are strict and lengthly- as you would hope they should be. Dr. David Creswell conducted a study at Carnegie Mellon supporting the need to find a qualified teacher. http://www.biologicalpsychiatryjournal.com/article/S0006-3223(16)00079-2/fulltext

How might mindfulness benefit my life?

Mindfulness is wisdom. It is a way of being- more than a technique or therapy or even education. The founder, Jon Kabat-Zinn has a saying about living our lives 'on automatic pilot.' The direct benefit is to live in this moment with awareness. Rather than ruminating over the passed or fearing what may or may not come. Truly, do any of us really know we have more time than right now? Mindfulness helps us to deepen our own understanding of what is. Participants often report experiencing a new fresh perspective, or a grounding feeling- as the practices are integrated more fully into everyday life. You may find you develop a sense of clarity that "As long as I am breathing, there is more right with me than wrong- no matter what is wrong or what challenges I may be facing. Challenges are workable." Many find they are better tuned in to enjoying the simple things in life and find themselves wanting what they already have. This insight often times brings sincere happiness.

What has research focused on? Who can benefit from MBSR?

People attend a MBSR program for a variety of reasons. MBSR is offered as a compliment to traditional medicine and psychology- not as a replacement. Research supports MBSR has been shown as an adjunct treatment to help in the management of: ADDICTION RELAPSE PREVENTION- ANXIETY- ASTHMA- CANCER- CHRONIC PAIN- CHRONIC ILLNESS- DEPRESSION- DIABETES- EATING ISSUES- FATIGUE- FIBROMYALGIA- GRIEF- GASTRO-INTESTINAL DISORDERS- IRRITABLE BOWEL SYNDROME including Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn's Disease- HEADACHES- HEART DISEASE- HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE- HIV- LOW BACK PAIN- MENOPAUSAL HOT FLASHES- OBSESITY- PANIC ATTACKS- POST-PARTUM DEPRESSION- PTSD- SKIN DISORDERS (Psoriasis)- SLEEP DISTURBANCES

What psychological benefits have been studied?

MBSR is helpful for fostering self-confidence, resilience, greater focus and clarity, attentiveness, deepening relationships and working on teams, a sense of connection and feelings of kindness and joy. MBSR also reduces depression and anxiety symptoms and research supports a reduction in other strong emotions such as anger.

What is Mindfulness?

There are many definitions. For our purposes in the MBSR course we define Mindfulness as "The awareness that arises by paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgmentally. There has to be an intention to pay attention in the present moment. Because it is the only moment we truly have. When you hear the word mindfulness, you have to understand that it is presence of heart." -Jon Kabat-Zinn, founder. Put simply, mindfulness is cultivating awareness of the mind and body and living in the here and now without discrimination. Historically rooted in ancient Buddhist meditative disciplines, it's also universal and anyone can benefit from the practice. Everyone can apply this approach. In the classic What the Buddha Taught, by Dr. Walpola Rahula, "Mindfulness is simply observing, watching, examining. You are not a judge- but a scientist." (1974, 73) "Some of the greatest benefits of mindfulness come from examining our mental processes in this way- observing them dispassionately- as a scientist would. This allows for great insight into habitual ways of thinking. It has a profound power to alleviate stress and suffering." (Adapted from A MBSR Workbook; Stahl, Goldstein). People all over the world are experiencing improved quality of life by taking an active role in understanding the nature of their own mind-body connection.

What is Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR)?

MBSR is an experiential, challenging, adult learning program that can also be an insightful and empowering adventure. It is an immersion intensive into the study of Mindfulness meditation. With an Orientation, the program is an 8 week, 9 session curriculum that is well-defined, systematic and has been taught for more than 40 years. You will come together for 8 weekly 2.5 hour classes and one All Day Retreat- as scheduled on either a Saturday or Sunday. The curriculum focuses on the experiential development of both 'formal and informal' practices as a foundation for the growth of positive health behaviors and psychological and emotional resilience- that can be effectively used for a life time. You will learn in a supportive environment with a professionally trained MBSR teacher- who is also a Registered Nurse and Addictions Counselor. MBSR is an approach that combines several meditation practices, insight dialogue, reflective inquiry and mindful yoga and movement. It is a highly participatory course where you will be encouraged to share your experiences of the practices. You may also choose not to share if it is difficult for you at times in a group setting. Each student will have 45 minutes to 1 hour of daily home practice to support your confidence in develoing a mindfulness meditation practice between weekly classes. For 2 years after you graduate from the MBSR course- you will be invited back to attend the All Day Retreat, free of charge, to help support your integration of mindfulness practice into everyday life. MBSR gives you the opportunity to experience your inherent reserves of inner strength, to find your voice and to be in relationship with all that is clearly important for you in your life now.

About Enrollment

What is the course schedule and time commitment?

Courses are generally offered every season. Everyone participates in a Free Orientation lasting 2 hours. Once you are registered to attend the Orientation- you will be emailed a Registration (Pre-Admission) Application to bring completed to the Orientation. A Telephone-In Orientation is also an option, lasts about 1 hour, and should be requested prior to the first session. You will attend group classes for 2.5 hours, once a week for 8 weeks. You receive 31 hours of direct instruction. You will also attend one All-Day Retreat on a Saturday or Sunday in between classes 6 and 7. Attending the All Day Retreat is a requirement to successfully complete the course. There is daily guided practice, supported by four professionally recorded CDs or audio MP3 files. Count on daily practice lasting 45-60 minutes for the full 8 weeks. You will also be given a workbook binder and weekly assignments to support your confidence in developing a mindfulness meditation practice between weekly classes.

Do I need to do anything to prepare myself for the course? Do I have to have a fitness or yoga routine?

No. No preparation is necessary. There is no expectation you have prior experience. Come as you are. The nature of the MBSR course is a highly experiential process. Your experience. Everyone will have the opportunity to explore and experience practices with a skilled teacher to guide and help with questions about practice. So, it is actually recommended that you do not read books or try other methods about meditation while attending. After you complete the course- there are numerous resource to expand and deepen your understanding. You will be given a list you may enjoy. For those who do have experience, this intensive course is excellent for rebuilding a strong daily Mindfulness meditation practice. Very often, meditaters, yoga teachers and yoga students are motivated to take the MBSR course for a disciplined deepening of their understanding. Mindful Yoga is meant to bring attention to the movement (even if it is imagined) rather than to particular alignment. The postures will be taught in a way that is acccesssible for all levels of experience and modifications will be given so that everyone can participate together- on a chair if needed. Please share with your teacher any physical challenges you may have so you can be given modifications. Self-care is encouraged. You may find yourself surprised at how much you are actually able to do.

What do I need to bring to class?

A workbook binder will be provided at the first session. You will be given many references, articles, studies, worksheets and resources. Although keeping a journal is a wonderful way to review your feelings during the program at home, taking notes is not recommended while in class. It is from your actual experience that you will discover and retain the most. There will be mats, cushions and blankets available for you to borrow for the duration of the course. If you have your own that you wish to use, please feel free to bring them. Remember, the most important part of the course is your full engagement in the mindfuness practices taught to you in the course.

How much does it cost and how do I get started?

Course fee is $500.00 and is all inclusive. Payment plans are available upon request. If you are on a fixed income or your finances preclude you from enrolling- please contact me. I will work with you. Feel free to use the Contact tab if you have any questions or concerns.

I can't attend now- but I would like to in the future. Any recommendations?

Please use the Contact page to join the email list and you will be sent announcements for upcoming MBSR courses.

Youth Program

What is the adolescent mindfulness program .b about? How can it benefit me or my student?

Pronounced 'dot be.' The program is a 10 session mindfulness course for schools, based on the adult course-MBSR, adapted for young people ages 11-17. This course is not for a particular kind of learner. Everyone can benefit from participating. Based in England, the program aims to give students mindfulness as a life-skill. The aim is to help equip young people with skills that allow them to train their attention to focus, when they choose to, to the here and now, rather than becoming overwhelmed with worry about what has happened or what might happen. Passing these skills to young people helps them to cope positively and calmly with what life throws at them and has the potential to impact beneficially on their learning. Students use Mindfulness to: - Feel happier, calmer, and more fulfilled - Enhances students' well-being and mental health - Get along better with others - Help them concentrate for learning in the school environment - Help cope with stress and anxiety - Perform better in sports, music and the arts - Develop students' attention and focus - Dealing with present moment difficulties like coping with testing pressures - Students report it helps them realize their potential

What are some of the topics introduced in the .b curriculum?

We meet for an Orientation, and then 9 weeks of lessons with each weekly lesson building on the next. Sometimes there is a home practice during the week that takes between 5 and 15 minutes to complete. They are fun and engaging. Topics explored are: Lesson 1. Playing Attention: Training the Muscle of Your Mind Lesson 2. Taming the Animal Mind: Cultivating Curiosity and Kindness Lesson 3. Recognizing Worry: Noticing How Your Mind Plays Tricks on You Lesson 4. Being Here Now: From Reacting to Responding Lesson 5. Moving Mindfullly Lesson 6. Stepping Back: Watching the Thought Traffic of Your Mind Lesson 7. Befriending the Difficult Lesson 8. Taking in the Good Lesson 9. Pulling it All Together

How is Mindfulness defined in the .b program?

Mindfulness is all about learning to direct our attention to our experience as it unfolds, moment by moment, with open-minded curiosity and acceptance. Rather than worrying about what has happened, or what might happen, it trains us to respond skillfully to whatever is happening right now. Be that good or bad.

How can I sign up for .b?

Unfortunately, Mary is no longer teaching .b in the community. What you can do is encourage your school to reach out to Mid-Hudson Mindfulness with interest in faculty and counseling staff learning for themselves, Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction. Taking the 8 week MBSR course is a prerequisite of Mindfulness in Schools Project for becoming a .b teacher. If a core group of faculty and staff are interested in self-care based in the personal practice of Mindfulness, then it is possible for an introduction to .b to be scheduled. What we know through experience and science- is the program will not run effectively for students when it is taught by teachers who are not deeply in practice as students themselves.

Is .b a Buddhist program?

No, it is not. The founders of .b are actually Christian and Jewish. What .b is not: - Yoga - Religious - Therapy - Boring - New Age - Visualization - Relaxation - Hippy Dippy

How do I learn about Mindfulness? What is the class like?

Mindfulness is always learned in a practical way- through your own direct experience- rather than listening to a teacher talk about it or passively reading about it. You get to actually DO it. We gradually learn to direct our attention in a more focused way to whatever is actually happening- whether it be our breathing, the sensations in the body, thoughts and feelings, or everyday activities like walking and eating. What is unique about it is- it can be your own private practice you can use whenever you need to- and no one can tell you are doing it. As you start to feel the results- it is a pretty cool practice that can serve you for the rest of your life.

Is the program hard to do?

At first we notice our minds wander constantly. Everybody's does. But with practice, we learn to sustain our attention and direct it more skillfully. This helps break the grip of unhelpful mental habits, judgments and impulses- making way for greater calm. And for more helpful, kinder and rational thinking about ourselves and all aspects of life.

Is this program evidence-based?

The adult program .b is modeled after is evidence based and .b is considered the gold standard curriculum on Mindfulness. Jon Kabat-Zinn endorses .b. The seven year MYRIAD study (MY Resilience In ADolescence) began in 2016, using the .b curriculum, reaching 6000 students ages 11-14 in 76 schools and is expected to conclude in 2023. The $10million randomized control trial is the first of its kind and is taking place in England at the University of Oxford, University College London and the MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit in Cambridge, in collaboration with the University of Exeter. The aim of the study is to assess whether Mindfuness techniques have any impact on the mental resilience of young people, particularly at such a vulnerable stage in their lives. The MYRIAD study will answer many questions about the effects of .b on adolescents' psychological, neurological, behavioral and academic outcomes. Helpful links: https://mindulnessinschools.org/research/ In the USA, the US Department of Education has endorsed Mindfulness meditation. The pioneering school locally is lead by Principal Charlie Tadduni, at the Roundout Valley Junior High School in Ulster County. Mr. Tadduni participated in a MBSR course and found it to be beneficial. He invited 10 of his faculty and staff to take the MBSR course and now the students are benefitting as well. If you are interested in bringing MBSR and .b to your school, complete the Contact page or email for more information.