A New and Better You With Mind Body Stress Reduction

By Lauren Brooke

Have you ever desired to transport your mind’s energy to a state of calmness and tranquility? If you answered yes, then MBSR might be the right journey for you to embark upon. MBSR stands for mind body stress reduction, and as a participant, I can say it certainly is. TheMBSR course, originally developed at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center in the 1970s by professor Jon Kabat-Zinn, is designed for participants to become aware of the mind-body connection and through the various practices to become mindful. As you explore breath work, meditation and mindful body movements, you can learn new tools to not only reduce stress, but to also be present in each moment.

As an individual who has been living with arthritis since my teenage years, I am well-versed in the effects stress can have on my body. Stress equals more pain, tightness, the ever-looming fear of a flare and more. It also increases my anxiety and makes me feel “stuck in a loop” with my own thoughts — which I can’t say is always the best place to be. It is precisely for these reasons that I decided to sign up for the eight-week course, with the hopes to become anew and better me.

At first, I wasn’t sure what to expect — I had tried meditation and yoga in the past and not much came of them. These practices seemed great in theory, but in real-life applications they came with much difficulty. So, what would be different this time? The answer: everything. Instead of attempting yoga or meditation classes in person, which often resulted in uncomfortable chairs or positions, this course was offered on Zoom. This meant I could participate in the comfort of my own home and in my comfortable chair! Next, you have the option to turn your cameras on and off. Want to close your eyes and embrace focusing on your breathing without worrying if others are looking at you? Feel free. Do you want to be in comfortable clothing or even pajamas? Be my guest. For me, I liked having these options and it really made my experience that much better.

现在,让我们谈谈贯穿整个课程的老师和参与者的能量。如果你以为极速感受不到那种能量,那你就大错特错了。从第一节课开始,教师就创造了一个安全、自由判断的空间。你完全接受自己是谁,就做你自己,没有任何评判。听起来很神奇,对吧?嗯,啊!My fellow students were eitherLive Yes! Connect Groupfacilitators or caregivers for someone with arthritis. This make-up created a haven for people who truly understand what it is like to live with arthritis — they get it. Is that something you crave? To be seen and understood? For me, it was essential and I found it within this cohort. We were free to explore our feelings and discuss our experiences without any judgement. In addition, we were greatly respected and dignified by the instructor. He didn’t make us feel like we were justpatients, but rather strong warriors whom he wanted to learn from!

Also, through the use of body scans, I learned to label sensations I felt, as just that — bodily sensations. Instead of catastrophizing what I am feeling or getting all caught up in the worry of a sensation, I can now calmly say this is a sensation that will pass — and it eventually does. By learning how to focus on my breath during meditations and use it as an anchor when I am stressed, I can regain a feeling of being centered. When I practice yoga, I can honor my body and provide the release it needs through various positions to ease muscle tightness.

But perhaps one of the best things that I learned as a student, was that I am in control

of me. Not others, not my arthritis,me.正念减压训练教会我,我可以选择。我可以选择如何应对压力。通过做出选择,我不仅能够有更多的解决方案,而且我被赋予了力量。

As a graduate, I am now able to practice mindfulness on a daily basis. It has been ingrained in my mind to be present in each moment. To say MBSR has allowed me to become anew and better me, would be an understatement. It has been life-changing and I am forever in gratitude for this incredible opportunity.

Lauren Brooke is a facilitator for the Live Yes! Connect Group in Monmouth County, New Jersey. She is passionate about arthritis and invisible disability awareness. As a writer, she focuses writing about her journey of living with arthritis.