Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction is different from many other stress reduction
approaches in that the emphasis is on shifting your relationship to experience itself, rather
than on learning techniques.

"If we hope to go anywhere or develop ourselves in any way, we can only step from where we are standing.
If we don't really know where we are standing, we may only go in circles."
- Jon Kabat-Zinn, Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life

What is mindfulness?

Mindfulness is the ability to pay attention to what is happening right now, in the present moment, without judgement and without wanting it to be different. So many moments of our lives are lost to us as our minds focus on what has happened or what might happen. This tendency to dwell in the past or imagine the future is our brain's default mode. It allows us to learn, plan and innovate, but it is fertile ground for self-criticism and anxiety. It also limits our ability to respond appropriately to what is happening right now and to be present to those we are with in this moment. Instead we often function on automatic pilot with responses that are habitual - hence the difficulty we face in changing our ingrained response patterns, even (or especially) those we really want to change.

The cultivation of present moment awareness - mindfulness - is the practice of accepting and reclaiming all our moments and living more fully. We can still remember, plan and innovate but we can savour our experiences as they happen. We can learn to pause when we encounter a difficult scenario and, perhaps, choose a fresh response.

What is meditation?

Meditation is the activity of focusing our attention on a narrow field. The focal point may be a physical object, a phrase or mantra, the sensation of breathing or of the body in motion or stillness. When our attention wanders from our chosen focus we notice that, accept it and, without judgement or criticism, gently escort our attention back to our focal point.
We do not try to stop or control our thinking. When we become aware of a thought we simply note it as another distraction and come back to our focal point.

Meditation develops our ability to pay attention. It is the training ground for mindfulness: the awareness that is not thinking but is aware of thinking and of all the other ways in which we experience and respond to the world.

What is Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR)?

MBSR is an intensively researched stress reduction programme introduced in 1979 at the University of Massachusetts Medical Centre in what has become a world-renowned stress reduction clinic. It is an experiential, eight-week training in a variety of mindfulness techniques and their integration into daily life. Participants learn how to use their innate resources and abilities to better respond to stress, pain or illness. Specific practices include:

  • Guided mindfulness meditation practices.
  • Gentle stretching and yoga.
  • Group dialogue and discussion.
  • Participation in any specific practice or discussion is always invitational, never obligatory.

MBSR is suitable for clients with stress, pain and chronic illness or anyone who wishes to live their lives more fully. In the USA MBSR is now considered to be a mainstream psychosocial treatment option and has entered the medical school curriculum.

Some benefits of mindfulness

Mindfulness can be beneficial to those living with:

  • stress
  • anxiety
  • recurrent depression
  • chronic pain
  • fibromyalgia
  • chronic fatigue
  • hypertension
  • heart disease
  • gastrointestinal disorders
  • addiction recovery
  • cancer
  • post-traumatic stress disorder

The documented research findings include:

  • improved sleep and general well-being
  • reduction in blood pressureM
  • improved immune system responsiveness
  • decrease in perceived stress
  • reduced anxiety and depression, and improved quality of life
  • a reduction in rumination and habitual mind patterns that can activate downward mood spirals and depressive relapse
  • physical changes in the brain, with increased volume of grey matter in regions linked to learning, memory, emotional regulation and empathy
  • improved focus and attention, and decreased distractibility
  • a more positive outlook and greater emotional resilience

What is Mindfulness & MBSR?

What are the Benefits of Mindfulness?

David Whyte – Start Close in

Body Scan – Guided by Jon Kabat-Zinn

Awareness of Breath – Guided by Jon Kabat-Zinn


Free Mindfulness Downloads



A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook by BOB STAHL, PH.D. and ELISHA GOLDSTEIN, PH.D.
Full Catastrophe Living (Revised Edition): Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain, and Illness: Jon Kabat Zinn Revised and Updated Version

Audio Downloads

Download Yoga 1: Standing Poses here
(Right click on the link and select "Save link as" to download the file)

Download Yoga 2: Floor poses here
(Right click on the link and select "Save link as" to download the file)

Download Mindfulness Meditation here
(Right click on the link and select "Save link as" to download the file)