**NOTE: New Spring, 2017 class to start on Wednesday, April 5…see “recent posts”
Proven Benefits of Mindfulness Meditation
Numerous studies show regular meditators are happier and more content than others. These are not just important facts in themselves but have huge medical significance, as such positive emotions are linked to longer and healthier life. Below are some of the many benefits of mindfulness meditation:
- Anxiety, depression and irritability decrease with regular meditation; memory improves, reaction times become faster and mental and physical stamina increase;
- Regular meditators enjoy better, more fulfilling relationships;
- Reduces key indicators of chronic stress, including hypertension;
- Reduces impact of serious conditions such as chronic pain and cancer and can even help to relieve drug and alcohol dependence;
- Bolsters the immune system and thus helps to fight off colds, flu and other disease
What is Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction?
The MBSR course was developed by Jon-Kabat Zinn in 1979 and has been completed by thousands of people world-wide. It has been featured in PBS in Bill Moyers’ documentary, Healing and the Mind, which was seen by more than 40 million people; on NBC’s Dateline; on ABC’s Evening News and Chronicle programs; on the Oprah Winfrey Show; and in hundreds of newspaper and magazine articles. Furthermore, there exists a robust body of research supporting the powerful influence mindfulness has on one’s health, well-being and happiness. Modern technology has provided non-invasive means of studying the brain that allow us to actually see the structural changes created by meditation practice. We are able to actually change our brain to change our life!
Mindfulness is moment-to-moment awareness without judgement. It is an experience rather than a concept, it is a practice. To be fully present in our lives the practice needs to be embodied. It is important to note that it is a way of being, not merely a clever idea or technique. The Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction course (called “Mindful Living and Stress Reduction” as I teach it ) provides a safe supportive atmosphere where students investigate the nature of stress and how it effects their lives, learn mindfulness approaches to manage physical, emotional or psychological stress in an effective way, learn to connect with the body’s wisdom and relax tension and restore a sense of balance in life. Students will learn insight meditation technique, body scan, gentle yoga, lovingkindness meditation and walking meditation as the formal practices. Through guided in-class meditation, class discussion and homework assignments which include daily formal practice and informal practices, students cultivate mindfulness that integrates into everyday activities. They report finding themselves more patient and accepting with loved ones, controlling their internal stress, improving relationships with others, eating more mindfully, improving communication skills,and feeling more lightness and joy in their lives.
Why I teach
My whole life I have been drawn to contemplative practices. At some intuitive level, I knew that there was something there for me in the practice. I would attempt to practice, subsequently believing that I was failing and doing it in “fits and starts” over time. In the 1990’s I began practicing and studying yoga and found it to be powerful and enriching. I went on to be trained as a yoga instructor and taught in various settings for five years. I loved yoga, and was noticing that the silent meditation at the end of the session brought me into deep relaxation and clarity of mind. My focus and interest began to shift to this still, silent practice.
One day, my yoga teacher, Dani Riposo, invited me to join her in attending an Insight Meditation workshop. I was completely captivated by the experience! I knew then what I really had known all along, that I needed to practice meditation. I recognized how “tightly wound” I was inside and how different I felt after meditating, how it influenced my day. Finding a teacher was difficult at that time in Syracuse. My practice floundered without support and guidance. I was fortunate to find an Insight Meditation group in Ithaca and began attending weekend silent retreats guided by teachers from the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, MA. It was by virtue of that support and guidance that I was able to establish a regular practice. That’s when my life began to be transformed. I oftentimes compare it to the scene in the movie The Wizard of Oz when Dorothy and Toto land in Oz and suddenly everything transforms from black and white to vivid color. Okay, so the change wasn’t that sudden, but was, and continues to be, all that powerful! I noticed the practice giving me tremendous personal gifts that brought more light, joy and richness to my life.
Now enters my exposure to Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction. After attending many retreats and deepening my practice, I completed the initial Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction professional training with Jon Kabat-Zinn and Saki Santorelli from the Center for Mindfulness at UMass Medical Center. The program offered a structure and support that I recognized as potentially being invaluable in helping students to establish a life-long mindfulness practice. I knew that it was exactly what I had needed in my early days of exploring meditation practice and did not have available. Knowing how the practice has changed my life, and feeling a passion to share it with others, I began teaching the course in 2001 and have done so twice yearly since that time. At this time the 8-week course has been streamlined into a 4-week course that is entitled: “Mindful Living and Stress Reduction”. For more information please go to this link. All those who attend the course are invited to the silent retreats offered twice a year and to monthly refresher classes to assist in sustaining practice. I also offer a 4-week individual instruction course from my Cazenovia office to those who cannot attend the classes or wish to customize their practice to meet specific needs. This is done on an appointment basis. It is a joy to be a part of the transformation in the lives of those who take up the practice.
For more information about mindfulness programs, please feel free to contact me by calling (315) 655-3066 or email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org.