- What is Mindfulness?
At its most basic, mindfulness is the practice of paying attention to each moment of life with wisdom and compassion.
Mindfulness is knowing what is happening, when it is happening – both within you in the form of thoughts, emotions and physical sensations as well as what is happening in the environment around you.
Formal mindfulness practices use a focal point such as the breath or the gentle movement of the body to give the mind a place to focus. This focus requires the supportive work of attention and concentration – two key skills that naturally grow through the practice of mindfulness.
Ultimately, the purpose of any formal mindfulness practice is to integrate this ability to be more present into each moment of daily life. It is a powerful way to reduce stress, develop greater balance and gain the ability to respond to life’s challenges with increased flexibility.
- What is the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) course?
Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction is an 8-week, experiential course designed to walk you through a series of mindfulness practices in a supportive group environment. At the end of the course, each participant designs a flexible, daily mindfulness practice that can be successfully integrated into their unique life circumstances.
Each of the 8, weekly sessions lasts 2 ½ hours with one additional daylong session offered after the sixth week of the course. The daylong session provides participants the unique opportunity to incorporate all they have learned into an extended practice period.
Beginning with week one and flowing through to week eight, participants engage with a set of mindfulness practices that build on one another offering variety and challenge. Practices include sitting meditation, body scan, and gentle movement.
Participants learn how to apply mindfulness to daily life through weekly instruction, group practice and dialogue along with daily assignments and practice CDs.
- Is there research to support the efficacy of the MBSR course?
The 8-week Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction was created in 1979 by Jon Kabat-Zinn at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. From the beginning of the first course over 30 years ago until now, the effectiveness of the MBSR course has been subjected to many rigorous scientific studies. In fact, there is more published research on MBSR than any other stress reduction program to date.
The research has demonstrated again and again that when practiced consistently, mindfulness reduces stress and improves immune function. A reduction in stress and an increase in the immune response create a foundation for improved health and well being in many other areas of life. Mindfulness, and its effectiveness has been studied in numerous areas, some of these studies include:
- Can I visit a class before I commit to attending the MBSR program?
We offer free informational sessions on a regular basis prior to the beginning of each 8-week Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Course. Prior to committing to the MBSR program, it is very important that you have a clear understanding of what the program is designed to offer as well as what will be expected from you as a participant.
Attendance at one of the free information sessions will allow you to learn about the history of the course and experience a short mindfulness practice. The session is also a time to have your questions answered to help determine if the course is right for you. You will also have a chance to meet your instructor.
If you are unable to attend an informational session, please contact us to arrange a separate consultation.
- How long is the MBSR program?
The MBSR course consists of 8, weekly sessions that are each 2-½ hours long with one daylong session offered after the sixth week of the course. The daylong session provides participants the unique opportunity to incorporate all they have learned into an extended practice period.
A typical course schedule is as follows:
Session One: 6:30-9:00 pm
Session Two: 6:30-9:00 pm
Session Three: 6:30-9:00 pm
Session Four: 6:30-9:00 pm
Session Five: 6:30-9:00 pm
Session Six: 6:30-9:00 pm
All Day Session: 8:45-4:00 pm
Session Seven: 6:30-9:00 pm
Session Eight: 6:30-9:00 pm
Please refer to the class page for current date and times.
- How much does the MBSR course cost?
The cost of the 8-week MBSR course is $350. The course fee includes 5 practice CD’s, and a workbook. We do offer payment plans of 1, 2 or 4 payments. We also have a limited number of scholarships available for each course cycle. The course is not prorated according to the number of sessions attended.
- Can I sign up for individual sessions instead of participating in a group?
We do offer mindfulness training in a private session format. The private sessions are offered in a series of 4 or 8 weekly in 1 and ½ hour segments of time. The private sessions are reserved for individuals and/or couples who are unable to attend the group session due to scheduling conflicts or if a one-on-one format is recommended by a health care professional.
However, we strongly encourage you to consider participating in the group format for several reasons. Learning how to practice mindfulness with a group of individuals provides energy and support as you learn a new skill. It is also very helpful to be able to share and discuss your own experiences as well as the experiences of your classmates as you learn how to integrate the practice of mindfulness into your daily life. Finally, it is very helpful to understand that while each person’s story is unique, stress is a common human condition that all of us experience. With this knowledge, we can begin to feel less alone and more a part of the human community.
- How do I register for a class or informational session?
The Grand Rapids Center for Mindfulness currently has two senior teachers – Carol Hendershot and April Hadley. You can contact us by phone at 616-361-3660 to register or for more information.
You can also email Carol at firstname.lastname@example.org or call her at 616-745-1864 to register her for one of her upcoming sessions. You can register for one of April’s upcoming sessions by emailing her at email@example.com or calling 616-826-1574.
Please indicate the start date of the course you wish you register for. Payment for registration can be made at the time of the free informational session or at the first class session.
- Can anyone attend your classes?
MBSR classes are open to all individuals. However, it is not recommended that you participate in the course if you are currently experiencing an episode of severe depression or have been treated for substance abuse in the past year. Exceptions can be made under the guidance of a health care professional.
- Can I participate if I take antidepressants or other prescription medication?
You can participate in the 8-week MBSR course if you are currently taking antidepressants and/or other prescription medication. If you have concerns about your participation in the program, it is best to contact your own health care provider prior to registering for a course.
- Can I participate if my health does not allow me to sit on the floor or do yoga?
You can fully participate in the 8-week MBSR course even if you have physical limitations. Each of the mindfulness practices can be modified according to what your body can do in the moment. Body awareness is a key component of the stress reduction program. We can greatly reduce stress and injury when we understand and respect our own physical limits as well as our capabilities.
- Do I need a daily mindfulness practice to make progress?
For mindfulness to have a lasting impact on stress as well as other areas of your life, a daily mindfulness practice is crucial. While participating in the 8-week course, you will be given daily homework assignments with handouts and CD’s designed to support your home practice. While participating the course, the homework will require 45 minutes to 1 hour of your day. However, studies have shown that once the practices of mindfulness are properly understood, consistency is the most important aspect of mindfulness. When you have completed the 8-week course a consistent, daily practice – whether 15 minutes or an hour a day – is what will support you in making ongoing changes in your life.
- Are any of your programs covered by insurance?
We do not accept insurance at this time. However, you may be able to use a Health Savings Account or a similar type plan to cover the cost of the class. Please contact your own health insurance company. We can provide a letter describing the 8-week program for your physician and/or insurance company.
- What is your refund policy?
Once the 8-Week Course begins we do not offer refunds except in the case severe illness. If life circumstances cause you to miss three or more classes, you may repeat the class at a later date. Payment received will be held and applied to the next course.
- Will the practice of mindfulness conflict with my religious or faith system?
The 8-week MBSR program is classified as a form of complementary medicine. Although mindfulness is an important component of the Buddhist tradition, the MBSR program does not reference or rely on any specific religious or faith system. The 8-week course is taught with a clear focus on using mindfulness as a way to train one’s attention on the present moment through the observation of physical sensations, thoughts, and emotions. This crucial information enables you to respond to life with a greater sense of clarity and choice.
One of the best ways to learn how to pay attention is to slow down. By slowing down you are able to begin to look more closely at what is happening in the body, the mind and the emotions. Consequently, as a part of the 8-week course you will practice various forms of mindfulness meditation simply as a means of slowing down and observing the present moment. In this way, meditation can become a way of life whether eating, exercising, talking or sleeping.
Most religious and faith systems have their own unique set of practices designed to cultivate slowness and because of this many people find that the practice of mindfulness complements their own faith system or spiritual journey.