September always feels like a time of renewal as the leaves are changing and kids are returning to school. It is often a time to get grounded after summer activities and prepare for Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas and Chanukah. The holidays can often feel stressful for many people. I am offering my 8 week Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) Course again, from October through mid-December. While the idea of being mindful sounds good to most people, most of us would like to pop a mindfulness pill or read a book and wake up all Zen. It doesn’t exactly work that way. In fact, this class requires a lot and is not easy. Let’s break it down.
It’s a time sucker The weekly classes are generally 2.5 hours in length; there is a full day of silent group practice -that's 28 hours right there. Then we really hit the tipping point with the home practice. We ask participants to practice a specific assigned mindful practice for 45 minutes each day. Between the home practice and class time, we’ve got about 76 hours of time sucking. Do you know anyone with that kind of down time? This must be the kind of thing only retired people can do, right? Well, not exactly. Participants of all ages, races, gender, sexual orientation attend. Busy people are particularly appreciative of taking this course as they learn the benefits of mindfulness.
MBSR dusts off your glasses (and it’s not always pretty) As awareness builds, we start seeing aspects of ourselves that we have denied, suppressed or been too busy to notice. We may not always like what we see. It can be humbling and painful to see that we’ve been irritable, demanding or alienating others.
You discover you may want a mind transplant When we are alone with out thoughts, it can get pretty loud and busy, lost in perseverating. Comparing mind and judging mind show up all the time in life, particularly in the digital age when immediate gratification is available. Meditation allows us to neutralize our thoughts so that we can manage the highs and lows of our thought patterns. You might find you want to trade your mind in for one that is not lost in constant thought.
If Anderson Cooper could find the time, you probably can too! Watch an interview about mindfulness on 60 Minutes here.
You remember you have a body (and it doesn’t always feel good) If you have lived with chronic or acute pain, you may know that the body can communicate loudly. We often do everything we can to move away from this discomfort. MBSR asks us to stay and “be” with our body with all of its sensations. This can be challenging for people feeling pain, restlessness or boredom.
So why would anyone subject themselves to this? Participants show up week after week because they discover that even if they didn’t love doing the home practice, they saw positive changes in their behavior and were inspired. Many report changes in communication - being more present when listening to others and interrupting people less often. Participants found they became more compassionate towards themselves and were kinder to others. Everyone found they were better able to respond to stressful events by recognizing they have a choice to respond rather than react with the habitual, auto pilot, out of control stress reaction. To top it off, the nurses are psyched to receive a certificate of 28 hours of continuing education (also available for LCSW and MFTs). Here’s the kicker, after all that, they want more. Some students repeat the 8-week course to bring it to a deeper level and others attend daylong retreats.
So when is the next 8-week MBSR course? There will be a free introductory class on Monday October 5th from 7pm-9pm at The Swedenborgian Church. You can register here. The 8 week Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Course will start Monday October 19th and run for 8 consecutive Mondays until December 14th, with a daylong retreat on Sat December 5th. You can register for the 8 week course here and save $50 if you register by the end of the day 9/14. It may seem early to think about that time of year but if the holidays trigger your stress, perhaps you could do this year differently and this course could be the ticket to support you.