Mer here. I’m currently in Sedona, AZ for a 7-day Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) Teacher Training. It’s one step (of which many I’ve completed and some I have left) in officially becoming MBSR Teacher Certified. This is a long process that requires multiple week-long out of town trainings, silent retreats, practice teaching, reading, learning, etc. and can take anywhere from 2-5 years to complete. It’s arduous, but worth it, and the training has taken me to some beautiful places.
I discovered MBSR after I was hit by a car post college and was in a wheelchair. Google stalked us even back then, and as I was at work (a super depressing first post-college job) an ad popped up for a stress reduction CD. It was by Jon Kabat Zinn, the western father of the mindfulness movement and was an adaptation of his 8-week course. I bought the CD, started listening, got interested, and started to learn and investigate.
My man Jon adapted these practices from ancient Eastern techniques and brought them to UMASS where he taught them to patient resistant patients in the 70s. He saw amazing results and decided to build the lessons into an 8-week course for the general public. He called this Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction. The cool part is that since Jon started he and his colleagues have done a TON of quantitive and qualitative research, along with brain scans (the coolest in my opinion), that show that continued practice of these techniques can have a plethora of positive results including decreased stress, increased resiliency, increased emotion regulation, increased empathy, increased immunity, increased focus and productivity, and increased leadership skills. In fact, FMRIs show us that the continued practice of mindfulness meditation (20 minutes daily) can change up to 11 parts of our brain.
For me, mindfulness meditation helps me be more present in my life. I practice sitting and focusing so I can implement this focus and presence into my daily life. So for example, right now I’m looking around at the Arizona mountains and I’m in awe of the beauty. I’ve stopped several times to just look, to take it all it, to notice the different shades of browns and greens and blues. I’ve stopped several times to ground myself in this moment, to take in the scents, the feelings, the sensations in my body. We don’t have to have the beautiful Arizona mountains as our backdrop to do this. We can do it anywhere, anytime. We just simply forget to. We forget in our daily hustle and bustle to stop and be present, to notice ourselves and the world around us in real time. Mindfulness practices help remind us to do that, and how to do that.
So, I’ll be here for the week learning how to better teach these techniques.
I love this tree outside of my room. I can’t figure out what the fruit is. I’ll investigate and report back.
I’m grateful to be in the mountains and I’m grateful for this opportunity. I can’t wait to bring what I learn back to Cincinnati.