MBSR (Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction) is a group-based programme, founded by Jon Kabat-Zinn and Colleagues at the University of Massachusetts Medical Centre, in the 1970s, for populations with a wide range of chronic health conditions. This programme has then been adapted by CBT therapists Zindel Segal, Mark Williams and John Teasdale, for the treatment of recurrent depression (called Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy). The results and statistics of these mindfulness based programmes have been very successful and promising. They are growing very fast and are now used in several fields such as the NHS, medical and mental institutes, schools, general public, the work place, and even in the parliament! One of the main programmes used in schools for teens is called ‘.b’ and has been written by Richard Burnett, Chris Cullen and Chris O’Neil (The Mindfulness in Schools Project).
Although Mindfulness practice holds its root in Buddhism, and has also been practised in most spiritual traditions, these mindfulness based programmes are non-religious and can be practiced by anyone of any faith or no faith. They are based on ancient approaches adapted to the western world and aim to help the mainstream people to deal with our mind, emotions, situations, challenges, with more ease and skills.
Scientific research has shown that taking an 8 week Mindfulness-Based course improves our physical and mental wellbeing. It reduces stress and high blood pressure, prevents relapse in depression, improves the immune system and general health, it helps to cope better with chronic pain and life challenges. Participants also report experiencing a greater appreciation of life, more empathy for oneself and others, improved relationships and work efficiency.