THE 411 ON MBSR
Mindfulness: The ultimate way to cope with stress
Mindfulness is a buzzy word these days, one that pops up frequently in the meditation and yoga communities. Mindful living has become the aspiration of many, but what does it actually mean? In its simplest form, it boils down to living a life that's more responsive than reactive. It's about paying attention and allowing things to be as they are, without judgment or resistance.
Given its definition, it isn't surprising that mindfulness can be a powerful tool for coping with stress.Jon Kabat-Zinn, the founding executive director of the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, has been a pioneer in this space.
I just love his definition of stress: "...stress really has to do with wanting things to stay the same when they are inevitably going to change."
Accepting the impermanence of all things is crucial, it seems. It was Zinn who popularized the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) movement, which has since become a mainstream treatment protocol for managing unwanted stress. MBSR, as the name implies, uses mindfulness meditation practices to work through the very real stressors of everyday life—illness, pain, work, family life, financial stress...
Zinn is definitely onto something. According to Harvard neuroscientist Sara Lazar meditation can have a profound effect on our brains, specifically in areas related to fear, anxiety, compassion and empathy. Her research also suggests that meditation might even slow down the effects of old age.
MBSR and mindful living are built on the idea that there really is no such thing as multitasking, something echoed by a slew of neuroscientists. The mind is designed to focus on one thing at a time; "single-tasking," if you will.
Meditation is the ultimate single-tasking activity, often nudging us to pay attention to our breath and really feel our bodies. It requires us to be fully present for the experience. Thoughts are inevitably going to drift in and out of our awareness (we're only human). Meditation doesn't ask us to empty our minds of these thoughts; it asks us to create space for them, then let them go, gently releasing each thought like a balloon floating into the sky.
Drop in and let go during our next breathe bar pop-up on February 11 at Kit and Ace. Our rockstar attorney turned mindfulness teacher Judy Craven will lead us in a guided meditation, followed by a granola sampling from our friends at No Denial Foods. We have a few spots left! RSVP: firstname.lastname@example.org.
And our Meditation Mondays at Venue One Chicago are a great way to start the week! Registration required.
With loving kindness,
Your friends at breathe bar