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New Jersey Center for Mindful Awareness

What is Mindfulness    and  What is Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction

Mindfulness is about being fully awake or present in our lives. giraffe

Jon Kabat-Zinn (the originator of the MBSR curriculum) describes mindfulness as an approach to life based on the understanding that “the present is the only time that any of us have to be alive – to know anything – to perceive – to learn – to act – to change – to heal”(JKZ 1990).

Mindfulness practice is the cultivation of the ability to pay deliberate attention to our internal and external experiences from moment to moment in an open, curious way that leaves judgment aside. Relating compassionately to life in this way and learning to direct (and re-direct) our attention towards the present moment allows for greater access to our own powerful resources for intuition, insight, creativity and healing.

Within the practice of mindfulness, thoughts and feelings are observed as events in the mind, without over-identifying with them, and without reacting to them in an automatic, habitual pattern of reactivity.  This non-elaborative state of self-observation introduces a ‘space’ between one’s perceptions and one’s responses.  In this way, mindfulness practices help us to respond reflectively to situations instead of reacting to them based on conditioned habits or reflexes. With mindfulness practice we can shift our relationship to ourselves and our life experiences in a way that allows for greater spaciousness, acceptance and compassion and in doing so can dramatically improve the quality of our life

"Between stimulus and response, there is a space.
In that space is our power to choose our response.
In our response lies our growth and our freedom."

-Victor Frankl, M.D. (holocaust survivor)

Mindfulness practices use the immediate experiences of the moment, including the  movement of the breath, sensations in the body, physical movements, sounds, smells and tastes as anchors for our nonjudgmental attention in order to facilitate a more stabilized way of relating to our inner and outer experiences. 

Most of us, to some degree or another, are frequently carried away by or consumed  with the ever present flow of thoughts, feelings, criticisms, worries and private stories  that present themselves moment by moment through out our day. We constantly judge and evaluate what is happening within us and around us, often comparing it to our     idea of how things “should be” thereby creating additional layers of dissatisfaction and anger that do not necessarily lead to any actual effort on our part to respond creatively to the challenges we are faced with. 

Cultivating mindful awareness can help us to work directly with these challenges, turning towards them instead of reacting against them. In this way we can discover opportunities or solutions that become more visible and available to us once we allow our perspective to open and shift away from the “busyness” of our every day mind.

                     STRESS REDUCTION?

Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) is a form of stress reduction that focuses more on cultivating an internal shift in how we relate to our moment to moment experiences instead of trying to control or change them. Participants in the MBSR courses are given direct guidance, support and encouragement in cultivating mindfulness in both formal and informal practices. The practice of mindfulness can have a direct and meaningful impact on the amount and degree of stress one experiences on a daily basis.

The Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction curriculum was originally developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn over 30 years ago at the Umass Medical School and was described in his first book entitled: “Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain and Illness (Delta, 1990). The MBSR program has been featured on the Bill Moyers PBS documentary “Healing and the Mind,” Oprah, NBC Dateline, ABC’s “Chronicle” and written about in a vast array of scientific and popular periodicals.  Since its inception over 17,000 people have completed the program and over four thousand physicians have referred people to it. MBSR has since become a powerful component in the field of integrative medicine and general health care as it encourages patients to use their own inner wisdom and resources to support their healing process and live more skillful, balanced lives. The MBSR curriculum is designed to complement traditional medical treatments and is beneficial when used in conjunction with the standard treatments for many medical conditions. In recent years, the teaching of MBSR programs has been extended into schools, prisons, inner city areas, the training of medical students and into corporate settings. 

For a review of research findings click here

MBSR Course Curriculum:

The MBSR curriculum is a highly participatory eight week group course that draws on the ancient practice of mindfulness in conjunction with discussion of a contemporary understanding of stress and social/emotional well-being. The training is not tailored to any particular diagnosis and is relevant for individuals suffering from a variety of physical and psychological challenges. The course includes guided instruction in mindfulness meditation practices, homework exercises to enhance awareness in day-to day living, gentle stretching and mindful yoga, and group exchange. Participants meet weekly for 2 hour classes. Participants are required to make the commitment to practice at home and are given CDs with guided meditations and written materials to support their work. Potential group members are interviewed and placed in groups that are appropriate to meet their needs.

For more information about MBSR click here

The MBSR course offered by Dr. Verni is modeled after the MBSR curriculum developed at Umass and is grounded in a strong personal practice of mindfulness and continued study and practice with MBSR instructors at the Center for Mindfulness in Massachusetts.
If your mind is not clouded
by unnecessary things,
this is the best season of your life

Wu Men

Cultivating Mindful Awareness
New Jersey Center for Mindful Awareness