Meditation Therapy to Reduce Stress: What is MBSR?

Mindfulness-based stress reduction therapy, or MBSR, is an evidence-based therapy that has been shown to be effective in treating a variety of mental conditions. MBSR was developed in the 1970s by Jon Kabat-Zinn at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. The therapy is often used to treat illnesses like depression and anxiety, but it also helps individuals with stress management, self-awareness, and conditions like chronic pain and substance abuse. At Bespoke Treatment, MBSR is one of the many therapies available in our personalized treatment plans. MBSR can be a useful tool to promote wellbeing and improve the effectiveness of our alternative treatments, such as TMS, ketamine therapy, and neurofeedback.


There is vast scientific evidence showing the benefits of MBSR therapy. Studies show that MBSR can be beneficial for healthy adults and adolescents and healthcare professionals in addition to psychiatric conditions, cancer care, sleeping or eating disorders, and coping with physical conditions. Therapies that promote an individual’s ability to switch between using and not using emotional regulation are strongly linked to better resilience, wellbeing, and mental health. Individuals who attended MBSR therapy have also shown greater regulatory decision flexibility. Research also suggests that mindfulness training promotes better focus, attention, and ability to work under stress.


What does MBSR teach?


Mindfulness-based stress reduction classes are taught at a variety of facilities, including retreat centers, hospitals, and even yoga facilities. MBSR programs are centered on a few basic principles, including:


  • Non-judgemental awareness in day-to-day life
  • Exploration of experiences in stress to reduce emotional reactivity
  • Being aware of the mind and body during stress, pain, and negative emotions
  • Practicing equanimity during change or loss that is natural to the human experience
  • Mindfulness meditation and practicing clarity in each moment


Some of the MBSR techniques taught during therapy include mindful breathing, body scans, and mindful movement. Mindful breathing involves focusing attention on the inhalation and exhalation of the breath and observing any physical sensations that arise. Body scans involve slowly scanning the body from head to toe and noticing any physical sensations or emotions that arise. Mindful movements are gentle exercises that help the individual become aware of their body and any physical sensations; these can include practices like yoga or tai chi. MBSR therapists will also teach individuals how to be mindful in everyday activities such as walking, eating, or brushing teeth.


What does an MBSR program include?


The general process of MBSR includes 8 weekly classes with each class lasting 2.5 hours, but programs can vary. At Bespoke Treatment, we can tailor your treatment plan to fit your schedule and specific needs. Many programs focus on taking an educational rather than therapeutic approach, and facilitate a community of learning and practice; many practitioners prefer larger classes with a medically heterogeneous environment to promote acceptance, motivation, and support in the group. Each MBSR session involves a variety of activities including the techniques mentioned above, guided meditation, group discussion, and gentle stretching exercises. In addition to the weekly classes, practitioners will also assign regular “homework” for individuals to practice MBSR techniques on their own. The goal of MBSR is to help individuals become more aware of their thoughts and feelings, and learn to better cope with stress, challenges, and negative emotions. 


MBSR is a valuable self-care tool that helps individuals cultivate patience and resilience in difficult times and gain clarity about life choices by understanding their inner processes better. These benefits help us develop lifetime habits for psychological well-being. MBSR is widely used by people from all walks of life who are looking to gain control over their mental health and pursue constructive living habits. Ultimately, MBSR benefits anyone who wants to become more mindful and cultivate a healthier lifestyle.

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