Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction/ Cognitive Therapy Groups

The 8-week MBSR program that is available includes the opportunity for participants to learn and practice mindfulness with an experienced teacher. The MBSR groups will meet two hours once a week for eight weeks. Participants will learn and practice several mindfulness meditation practices. At the end of the group, they will have developed a plan that they will be able to use in the future to manage stress and support their ability to find happiness in everyday life.

In addition to meeting once a week with an experienced meditation teacher, who also practices mindfulness meditation in her own life, participants practice mindfulness meditation throughout the week with the help of compact discs, which are included as a part of the program. When the program ends they will be able to use the CDs for their own daily meditation practice.

In addition to the weekly sessions, there will also be one daylong group that meets on a Saturday for a “Day of Mindfulness”. This provides an opportunity to practice all of the mindfulness meditation practices learned through the weeks.

The Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program includes:

Eight 2-hour weekly sessions
One 6-hour Day of Mindfulness
Two Meditation CD’s
All Instructional Materials.

Cost: $560 Sign-up fee

Everything needed to complete the MBSR group is included in the cost of the program.
This program is not covered by OHIP and a physician’s referral is not required.

Information About Mindfulness Meditation

What is Meditation?
One description of meditation is that it is the state of relaxed attention. With meditation we can achieve a more relaxed attitude toward our lives even at times that are not relaxing. We begin with learning to focus on one thing at a time. One of the first things we learn is that our minds do not want to stay concentrated. Thoughts will appear and disappear, only to be replaced by other thoughts. In meditation we are continually bringing our minds back to the original focus.

While meditation has been practised for over a thousand years, and is generally considered to have started in India, it was not researched for its benefits until 1968. According to “The Relaxation and Stress Reduction Workbook” by Davis, Eshelman and McKay, when meditation was studied by Dr. Herbert Benson of Harvard Medical School, it was found to produce a number of positive physiological changes associated with relaxation.

Meditation is a simple practise to begin, and by practising it often you are likely to find that you can achieve a more relaxed state.

What is Mindfulness Meditation?
Focusing on the breath is also called mindfulness meditation. In it you simply follow the in and out of your breath, while breathing in a normal manner. You simply focus on the sensation of breathing–on the breath coming into and going out of your body.

When thoughts arise, you can just note them, let them pass, and return to simply focusing on your breathing. You will find yourself doing this over and over.
One way to envision mindfulness is to think of the mind as the surface of the ocean. There are always waves, sometimes big, sometimes small. The goal of meditation is not to stop the waves so that the water will be flat, peaceful and tranquil, but to learn to ride the everpresent waves.
Jon Kabat-Zinn

Mindfulness meditation is a meditation practice that teaches us to be able to slow down in order to be able to observe our thoughts with an attitude of neutrality. We learn and practice simply being present with thoughts and emotions without trying to change them. This ability to combine calmness with acceptance gives us greater opportunity for happiness, even in situations and at times, when we never imagined that it might be possible.

How Might Mindful Meditation be helpful in Dealing with Stress?
At first it might not seem that focusing on the breath and watching thoughts and emotions might be helpful in dealing with the stress that we all deal with in our lives. In fact, we spend a lot of time tending to our thoughts and emotions, getting very stressed by them. Mindfulness meditation teaches us how to be aware of thoughts, body tension and even uncomfortable emotions without getting caught up in them. With mindfulness we find that we don’t have to take everything that we think or feel as seriously as we have in the past- that we can “ride the waves” rather than getting swamped.

What is Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction?
Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) is a program developed by Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn and his colleagues at the University Of Massachusetts Medical School twenty-five years ago. It uses the principles of mindfulness meditation to treat patients with both medical and emotional problems. Since its beginning many people, even those without a medical diagnosis, have found that they were able to manage the stress in their lives much more effectively using MBSR. Managing stress means being able to experience more happiness, something that we want more of in our lives!

The Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program is an eight-week program that teaches a range of useful mindfulness meditation practices that participants can begin to draw on immediately to manage the stress in their lives, leading to a more calm and relaxed attitude to good times and difficult times. It includes several meditation practices, including a lying down meditation practice that resembles progressive muscle relaxation (called a Body Scan), mindful stretching (that incorporates simple hatha yoga movements), sitting meditation practice (usually practiced sitting in a chair) and walking meditation.

Participants use audiotapes or compact discs to learn the meditation practices taught in MBSR.


Who Benefits from MBSR?
MBSR was developed to help anyone who wanted to be able to take care of themselves by learning to manage the stress in their lives better. If you have a medical condition it can be a support to the treatment you are already receiving from your doctor. We learn ways to take better care of ourselves, no matter what problems we encounter.

Some of the conditions MBSR has been useful for:
chronic pain
anxiety and panic
sleep disturbance
job or family stress
skin disorders
high blood pressure
stress factors in heart disease

What is the scientific research in the benefits of mindfulness meditation?

The Stress Reduction Clinic has conducted research to show how their program helps people with a variety of diagnoses, including those with psoriasis, heart conditions, chronic pain, as well as people who found that they were overwhelmed with the stress in their daily lives.

In their research, they found that when patients with psoriasis used mindfulness meditation, their psoriatic outbreaks cleared more quickly, requiring a shorter medical treatment. Their research into the effects of mindfulness meditation on those with anxiety diagnoses found that patients diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Panic Attacks (with or without Agoraphobia) made significant improvement on subjective and objective measures. The results were achieved at the end of an 8-week group and at the 3-year follow-up.

Zindel Segal, PhD., Head of the Cognitive Behavioural Clinic at The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, along with his colleagues, John Teasdale and J. Mark G. Williams, have published research showing that recovered patients with depression have a lesser chance of relapse after using a program that combined the mindfulness meditation practices of MBSR with cognitive therapy called Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT).

In a pilot study using MBCT to assist patients in reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety, Kate Kitchen and her colleagues at The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, found preliminary results suggesting the possible benefit of a 10-week MBCT program, as an adjunct to standard treatment, in reducing depression symptoms and improving social functioning for those suffering from depression and anxiety.

What is Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT)?

Cognitive therapy helps people with depression and anxiety develop new ways of handling depressive thoughts, distressing emotions and anxious feelings so that they can feel free to live their lives. MBCT was developed by cognitive psychologists who wanted to help their clients find ways to stay well once they had gotten well. It added the philosophy and some of the approaches of cognitive therapy to MBSR in order to give clients a way to prevent relapse of depression.

How are Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) different?

Not only are the names of the two groups similar, but the approaches are also very similar and are a part of a growing medical and psychotherapy field called Mindfulness Meditation. Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction was developed to be of assistance to anyone who wanted to be able to handle the stress in their lives better. In Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy there are additions that respond to the difficulties encountered by people struggling with anxiety and depression.

Suggested Additional Reading List on Mindfulness

Full Catastrophe Living
Jon Kabat-Zinn

Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy for Depression
Segal, Williams and Teasdale

Peace is Every Step
Thich Nhat Hanh

Insight Meditation: The Practice of Freedom
Joseph Goldstein

Lovingkindness: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness
Sharon Salzberg

Mindful Recovery: A Spiritual Path to Healing from Addiction
Thomas Bien and Beverly Bien

The Meditative Path: A Gentle Way to Awareness, Concentration and Serenity
John Cianciosi
Links for Mindfulness, MBSR, MBCT

Center for Mindfulness
Umass Medical School

Description of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT)

Description of MBCT by Mark Williams

Description of MBCT

North Wales Centre for Mindfulness Research and Practice

Insight Meditation Society
Cambridge, Mass