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I did a course at St. Joseph's Hospital in Toronto on Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction. This course is based on the material in the book Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain and Illness by Jon Kabat-Zinn Ph.D. It was taught by two psychotherapists.

Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction

St. Joseph's Health Centre is offering patients a new way to help deal with and and reduce stress through the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Clinic.

What causes stress?

  • chronic pain
  • chronic illness such as heart disease, diabetes or arthritis
  • cancer
  • coping with depression
  • anxiety
  • dealing with events in our lives that feel overwhelming such as caring for a relative that is ill or living with someone who has a drug or alcohol problem

What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is a non-judgmental way of paying attention in the present moment to what is happening within us and around us. When we pay attention in this way, we see things more clearly and develop a greater understanding of why things are the way they are.

How does mindfulness impact stress?
When we see things differently, choices and options for change that previously were not apparent become visible in our lives. We can learn to approach each moment with more calmness, clarity, and wisdom. We can discover that which is healthy within ourselves and learn to see that it is possible to experience joy, even in the midst of some of life's toughest challenges.

What is mindfulness-based stress reduction?
Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) is a program modeled on Jon Kabat-Zinn's program at the Stress Reduction Clinic of the University Massachusetts Medical Centre, the largest hospital based stress reduction program in the United States.

What does Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction do?
It helps us develop an increased awareness of ourselves and our relationship to the world. Increased awareness changes how we relate to both our internal and our external environment.

How do we learn to be mindful?
Mindfulness is developed by bringing awareness to:

  • the breath
  • physical sensations
  • thoughts and emotions
  • our daily interactions with the world around us

The program includes practice in mindful movement. In this way we learn to get in touch with the feedback our bodies send us in response to our thoughts and actions.

What happens as our awareness grows?
We can cultivate the capacity to:

  • remain calm, concentrated and relaxed
  • learn to be aware of stress as it is occurring so that we can work with it rather than it working on us
  • become more conscious of the possibilities that exist in our lives for change and growth and healing
  • be more mindful of what is occurring in the body which allows us to respond more effectively to its signals
  • be less judging and more accepting of ourselves and life's challenges
  • be more compassionate and kind with ourselves and others

Course Description
The program consists of:

  • an introductory group session
  • an individual interview before the program
  • nine weekly classes of three hours each
  • an intensive six-hour class
  • an individual interview after the program

Class members are asked to do one hour of homework per day, six days a week to learn and practice the techniques of mindfulness.
The program is suited to those individuals who are willing to become actively involved in their own care.

What is the cost?
$55 for materials plus a willingness to work hard to learn how to more effectively handle life’s challenge! Operating costs for the program are funded through OHIP and St. Joseph's Health Centre.

You will be provided with the following course materials:

  • 2 audiotapes
  • a workbook Full Catastrophe Living by Jon Kabat-Zinn

Who can benefit?
The Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Program is beneficial for people experiencing:

  • chronic pain
  • heart disease
  • cancer
  • high blood pressure
  • arthritis
  • HIV infection
  • sleep disturbances
  • gastrointestial problems
  • major medical illnesses
  • anxiety and panic
  • job or family stress
  • headaches
  • depression
  • caregiver stress
  • eating disorders
  • fibromyalgia

How do participants benefit?
Participants report:

  • lasting decreases in both physical and psychological symptoms
  • that they cope better with pain
  • an increased ability to relax
  • greater energy and enthusiasm for life
  • improved self esteem
  • an increased ability to cope effectively with stressful situations

Finding Us
Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Clinic office is located in the Sunnyside East Wing, 1st Floor. Clinic participants will be provided meeting location, dates and times

Hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday to Friday

For more information on our services, call: 416-530-6620

Daniel E.
A comment by Jon Kabat-Zinn when he was interviewed by Bill Moyers about the stress-reduction mindfulness program:

The people in the program are all here for a purpose. They were all referred by their doctors in order to achieve some kind of improvement in their condition. But paradoxically, they are likely to make the most progress in this domain if they let go of trying to get anywhere and just learn through the practice of meditation to experience their moments as they unfold.

Healing and the mind - Google Books
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