Click below to listen to this article:
Mindfulness-based stress reduction
Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) is a clinical program that teaches people how to cope with stress, pain and illness through mindfulness meditation and other practices. MBSR has been shown to have positive effects on mental and physical health, quality of life and social functioning. However, MBSR may also have a deeper impact on one’s sense of self and relationship with others. In this article, we will explore how MBSR can foster self-transcendence, a state of awareness that goes beyond one’s personal needs and concerns and connects with a larger reality. We will review the evidence for self-transcendence as a mechanism of mindfulness, as well as the benefits of self-transcendence for well-being and prosocial behaviour.
MBSR in practice
Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) is a program that teaches people how to cope with stress by paying attention to their thoughts, feelings, sensations and surroundings in the present moment. MBSR helps people to reduce stress by changing their relationship with it, rather than trying to avoid it or fight it. It also helps people to cultivate positive emotions, such as compassion, gratitude and joy, that can counteract the negative effects of stress.
MBSR consists of eight weekly sessions and a one-day retreat, where participants learn various mindfulness practices, such as meditation, yoga and body scan. These practices help people to develop awareness of their inner and outer experiences, and to respond to them with curiosity and acceptance. By doing so, people can learn to recognize their stress triggers and reactions, and to choose more skilful ways of coping with them.
Example use case
For example, someone who is stressed about a deadline at work might normally react by procrastinating, worrying or getting angry. These reactions can increase their stress level and impair their performance. However, if they practice MBSR, they might notice their thoughts and emotions about the deadline, and acknowledge them without judging them. They might also notice the sensations in their body, such as tension or pain, and relax them with breathing or movement. Then they might focus on the present task at hand, and do it with more concentration and efficiency. They might also appreciate the positive aspects of their work, such as learning new skills or helping others.
MBSR has been shown to be effective in reducing stress and improving well-being in various populations, such as patients with chronic pain, anxiety, depression or cancer; health care professionals; students; teachers; and prison inmates. It can also enhance immune system functioning, lower blood pressure and reduce inflammation. MBSR is not a cure for stress or its related problems, but rather a way of living more mindfully and healthily in a stressful world.
MBSR and self-transcendence
One of the goals of MBSR is to help clients achieve self-transcendence, which is the ability to go beyond one’s limited sense of self and connect with something larger and more meaningful. self-transcendence can enhance one’s sense of purpose, belonging, compassion, and happiness. MBSR helps clients achieve self-transcendence by.
- Developing awareness of one’s body and breath, which can anchor one in the present moment and reduce rumination and worry.
- Practising loving-kindness meditation, which can foster positive emotions and empathy towards oneself and others.
- Engaging in yoga and other mindful movements, which can increase one’s flexibility, balance, and coordination, as well as promote a sense of embodiment and integration.
- Participating in group discussions and exercises, which can provide social support and feedback, as well as opportunities to learn from others’ experiences and perspectives.
- Applying mindfulness skills to everyday situations and challenges, which can help one cope with stress more effectively and creatively.
MBSR is a structured and evidence-based program that has been shown to have various benefits for physical and mental health. By learning and practising MBSR, clients can enhance their ability to deal with stress and achieve self-transcendence.
If you are interested in learning more about MBSR, here are some weblinks that provide further information: