There are a number of different mindfulness-based appeoaches that are based on contemplative traditions and meditative practices that are thousands of years old and that many millions of people around the world have found helpful. Mindfulness-based stress reduction(MBSR )was orginially developled in the 1970 by Jon Kabat-Zinn as a training vehicle for the relief of suffering. He wondered if people with long standing and serious health problems such as chronic pain, psoriasis, cancer and heart diseases might benefit from learning mindfulness, and distilled the contemplative traditions and practices into a secular eight-weektraining programme.
The mindfulness-based stress reduction programme intoduces several core mindfulness practices for people with chronic physical health , to help them live with these conditions with less stress and greater sense of wellbeing . Those who do the course learn to recognise patterns of thinking and feeling that cause suffering to bring awareness and compassion to these monuments , and to learn more ‘choiceful’ ways of responding to situations .
Over time and with practice people learn the willingness and capacity to be present in their experiences with discomment , curiosity and kindness. After the course they typically report feeling better able to cope, not only with their chronic health problems, but also with their lives more generally.
Recently , the psychologists Zindel Segal , Mark Williams and John Teasdale reasoned that people who suffer repeated bouts of depression might also be helped by mindfulness training. Building from the work of Jon Kabat-Zinn they developed mindfulness-based cognitive therapy(MBCT). MBCT encourages the participants to change their relationship to thoughts, feelings and body sensations. This provides an opportunity to discover that these are feeling events that they can choose to engage with-or not. That is repeated practice in noticing and observing, with curiosity and compassion and shifting perspective , helps participants realize that their thoughts, emotions and sensations are just thoughts , emotions and sensations , rather than ‘truth’ or ‘me’ .
Those who practise MBCT learn to see more clearly how their minds work and recognize when their mood is beginning to dip, without adding to the problem by getting caught up in analysis and rumination – to stand on the edge of whirlpool and watch it go round, rather than disappearing into it. This helps break the old association between negative mood and the negative thinking it would normally trigger.
So if you practise MBCT , you develop the capacity to allow distressing emotions , thoughts and sensations to come and go, without feeling that you have to supress them, run away from or fight them. You learn to stay in touch with the present moment , without being driven to ruminate about the past or worry about the future.
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