Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction

The goals of mindful practice are to become more aware of one’s own mental [and emotional] processes, listen more attentively, become flexible, and recognize bias and judgments, and thereby act with principles and compassion. Mindfulness involves as sense of unfinished curiosity

Ronald M. Epstein, MD (2005)

Moment to moment non-judgmental awareness

Jon Kabat Zinn , Ph.D. (1990)

Current MBSR students may access course materials. Students will be given a passcode on the first day of class.

Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) was founded by John Kabat-Zinn at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center in 1979. The program was designed to help human patients who were not responding to other forms of medical treatment. MBSR has now spread to multiple populations including health professionals and medical and nursing students as well as in multiple settings including work places, educational settings and even prisons. UT VSW is the first to offer this class at a veterinary teaching institution.

Two decades of published research indicates that the majority of people who complete MBSR courses report:

  • Lasting decreases in physical and psychological symptoms
  • An increased ability to relax
  • Reductions in pain levels and an enhanced ability to cope with pain that may not go away
  • Greater energy and enthusiasm for life
  • Improved self-esteem
  • An ability to cope more effectively with both short and long-term stressful situations.

In the News

Mindfulness is:

Mindfulness is a purposeful, non-anxious, reflective presence that can be applied to any aspect of [medical] practice

Ronald M. Epstein, MD (1999)

Mindfulness is a way of learning to consciously and systematically work with stress, pain, illness, and the challenges and demands of everyday life by not turning away from them but learning to be resilient with and through them.

Mindfulness is not something that one gets or acquires. It is already within the human experience – a deep internal resource available that is patiently waiting to be observed and used in the service of learning, growing, and healing.

Reasons people participate in MBSR

  • Stress — job, family or financial
  • Chronic pain
  • Illness
  • Anxiety and panic
  • Depression
  • GI distress
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Fatigue
  • High blood pressure
  • Headaches
  • Compassion Fatigue

Present Moment Practice

  • Physiological Benefits
  • Lower blood pressure and pulse rate
  • Increased brain activation in regions associated with positive thoughts and mood
  • Cognitive benefits
  • Increased ability to concentrate
  • Increase in ability to be non-judgmental
  • Increased self-awareness
  • Increase in positive thoughts
  • Emotional benefits
  • Increased ability to regulate emotions
  • Increased capacity for empathy
  • Increased capacity for compassion

The course schedule consists of eight weekly classes at 2 to 2.5 hours each and one daylong class on a Saturday or Sunday.

The 4 basic MBSR practices are:

  • The Body Scan- mindful attention while lying down
  • Mindful Stretching- mindful attention while stretching or doing yoga
  • Mindful Sitting Meditation- mindful attention while sitting still
  • Mindful Walking- mindful attention in daily life and activities

The class is highly participatory and includes:

  • Guided instruction in mindfulness meditation practice
  • Gentle stretching and mindful yoga
  • Didactic instruction on stress response and stress hardiness models and research
  • Inquiry exercises to enhance personal awareness in everyday life
  • Individually tailored instruction
  • Group dialogue
  • Poetry and Stories
  • Pre and post assessment
  • Daily home assignments- at least 45 minutes a day
  • 4 audio CD’s and a workbook

As the practice of medicine is not a business and can never be one, the education of the heart- the moral side of man- must keep pace with the education of the head. Our fellow creatures cannot be dealt with as man deals with corn and coal: the Human heart by which we live must control professional relationships.

Sir William Osler, (1849-1919)
  • Baer (2003): Baer, RA, (2003). Mindfulness as a clinical intervention: A conceptual and empirical review. Clinical Psychology, 10(2), 125-143.
  • Grossman (2004): Grossman, P.; Neimann, L.; Schmidt, S.; Walach, H. (2004). Mindfulness based stress reduction and health benefits: A meta-analysis. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 57, 35-43.
  • Bishop (2002). What do we really know about MBSR? Psychosomatic Medicine, 64, 71- 84
  • Smith J., Richardson J, Hoffman C. & Pilkington K. (2005) Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction as supportive therapy in cancer care: Systematic review, Journal of Advanced Nursing 52(3), 315-327
  • Davidson et al (2003)
    N= Employees at a BioMedical company
    25 experimental MBSR group
    16 control group (wait-list)
    Randomized control group design
    Measured brain activity and immunity
    Results: EEG showed an increase in left sided anterior activation for meditators
    An influenza vaccine given at the end of intervention showed an increase in antibody titers compared to wait-list group
  • Beddoe & Murphy (2004)
    N= 23 nursing students
    Pretest-Posttest Design
    Intervention was 8-week MBSR Course
    Increased self-confidence
    Awareness of stress as it is happening
    Feeling more hopeful
    Increased levels of empathy and decreased feelings of “emotional contagion”
  • Carlson & Garland (2005)
    Impact of mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) on sleep, mood, stress and fatigue symptoms in cancer outpatients., Int J Behav Med. 2005;12(4):278-85
    This study examined the effects of an 8-week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program on the sleep quality of a heterogeneous sample of 63 cancer patients. Overall sleep disturbance was significantly reduced (p < .001) and participants reported that their sleep quality had improved (p .001). There was also a significant reduction in stress (p < .001), mood disturbance (p = .001), and fatigue (p < .001). The associations among these changes and implications for improving quality of life of cancer patients are discussed.
  • Rosensweig et al 2003
    N= 2nd Year Medical Students
    140 MBSR Participants
    162 control group (didactic stress management)
    Non-Random: Pre-Post: Control Design
    Results: MBSR group scored significantly lower than control group on the Profile of Mood States’ Total Mood Disturbance as well as the Tension-Anxiety, Confusion-Bewilderment, and Fatigue-Inertia subscales
  • Shapiro et al. (1998)
    70 pre-medical and 180 medical students
    Randomized control group design
    Decrease in levels of depression
    Decrease in levels of anxiety
    Increase in capacities for empathy

It is indeed a radical act of love just to sit down and be quiet for a time by yourself. It is only love that can give us insight into what is real and what is important. And so a radical act of love makes sense- love for life and for the emergence of one’s truest self.

Jon Kabat-Zinn