The Hidden Treasure

Where Ancient Wisdom Meets Contemporary Psychology

Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction

Written By: Vic Rebman Ph.D - Apr• 02•15
Contemplation #13

 “Do not dwell on the past, do not dream of the future.

Concentrate the mind on the present moment.”

The Buddha

Warning, thinking can be hazardous to your health!

Clinical studies over the last 40 years have demonstrated beyond any doubt that the vast majority of human suffering is not caused by  external stress, but rather by the way we think about it and the meaning we give to it. Helping people develop skills in evaluating and changing what and how they think (cognitive behavioral therapy or CBT) has shown to be the most effective treatment for major depression, anxiety and stress related disorders. It has been shown to be more effective than medication therapies or any other type of therapy intervention. And the best thing about CBT?  There are no negative side effects!

 Clinical research over the last decade has also discovered the power of ancient mindfulness-based meditation practices for ameliorating virtually every kind of psychological suffering. Mindfulness-based stress reduction practices are based upon traditional Buddhist meditation strategies, which teach how to gently hold one’s  awareness in the present moment, rather than allowing it to drift and fixate in the past or future. This is a powerful skill to develop given that clinical research has validated the observations of the ancient philosopher Lao Tzu who wrote several thousand years ago:

“If you are depressed, you are living in the past.

If you are anxious, you are living in the future.

If you are at peace, you are living in the present.

Of course, these wise words echo the message of Jesus to his disciples when he said to them:

“Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.”

(Matthew 6:34)

Living mindfully is about being gently aware of the present moment; holding each moment kindly in awareness without criticism or judgment. In doing so, the mind is released from regrets of the past or worries of the future. The mind is freed from judgment and grievances, creating a space for peace to surface and fill the moment -and expand naturally into the next.

Fortunately, cultivating mindfulness does not require huge time commitments as do many other forms of meditation. Being fully aware of the feeling of the gentle grip of your hands on the steering wheel during the morning commute, or the refreshing feel of the water on your body during the morning shower, can become mindful   moments that relieve stress and elevate one’s peace of mind.

I routinely recommend and teach mindfulness-based stress reduction strategies to my clients. For those who are interested in learning more about mindfulness-based stress reduction, I recommend Dr. Siegal’s book entitled “The Mindfulness Solution”(2010).  It’s a great book about an age old secret to relieving stress and cultivating inner peace.

“Mindfulness helps you go home to the present.

And every time you go there and recognize a condition of happiness that you have,

 happiness comes.”

Thich Nhat Hahn

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