Disclaimer

The Migraine Girl's blog is not a substitute for professional advice! Thank you and be well.

Search This Blog

17 August 2009

Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction

Last week, I started formal training in MBSR, mindfulness-based stress reduction. I sound a bit stodgy calling it "formal training," but that description serves to differentiate my class experience from the half-assed mindfulness meditation I've been attempting on my own (with varying degrees of success).

I'm still at the point where, in the first few seconds after hearing the word "meditation," I think of chanting and swamis ordering me to completely clear my mind. I think of orange robes, big gongs, and Asia. I think of hippies and LSD. Yes, I am operating entirely on stereotype.

But after those first impressions have passed, I begin to think of meditation for what it is in my life, for what it is to me. Mindful meditation does not ask you to magically erase your mind. Mindfulness encourages you to be completely in tune and at peace with what's going on, to focus on the present and only the present. There's no point in scolding yourself for a wandering mind: the mind's nature is to wander, and that wandering is part of the mindfulness process. The key is to notice that your mind is drifting and then to bring it back gently to whatever you're trying to focus on.

I'm not doing the program justice. Do a google search, download some mindfulness tapes, enroll in a class. Jon Kabat-Zinn, one of the main folks who popularized mindfulness, has written (or co-written) several books on the process, and several of those books are accompanied by CDs. Worth the investment.

My instructor told us that if we could keep a journal about our mindfulness meditation practices, we'd learn a lot about the nature of our individual minds and would also notice patterns of thought. This evening I listened to a CD track of the body scan, a 30-minute process during which you slowly and methodically focus on one body part at a time. It can be extremely calming, but tonight I was just not into it. More than once I thought about getting up and turning the stereo off. I kept going, though, continually redirecting my thoughts as I got distracted again, and again, and again by potentially stressful things in my life.

So far I am most easily distracted by my to-do list. I have so much to do, so little time. And when I do have time, I waste some of it on frivolity. Other times I am not feeling at my best physically but beat myself up for not being able to plow through the discomfort in order to keep trucking.

In any case, the to-do list popped up over and over as I meditated, and I continually redirected my focus to whatever body part I was *supposed* to be focusing on. And you know what? About half the time it worked. I feel a lot more calm than 45 minutes ago before I hit "play," and I'm glad I didn't turn off the CD. The times you are most tempted to NOT engage in stress-relieving activities are most likely the times you need the most stress relief. Note to self: remember this.

Has anyone else tried MBSR? If so, any reports from the field?

18 comments:

Diana Lee said...

I'm a huge fan of and believer in MBSR. Jon Kabat-Zinn's Full Catastrophe Living is where I recommend people start. It's a wonderful book. I really like his body scan, too.

MaxJerz said...

Funny you should post this. I just got the first series of Jon Kabat-Zinn's book/CDs on MBSR and plan to start. I just started reading the book tonight and will be starting the CD of exercises soon. His program is 8 weeks long, and I plan to post about it in my blog, so keep an eye out.

Best of luck to you!

Be well,
MJ

themigrainegirl said...

The course I'm taking with Mr. Mike Healy (which I linked to in my post) is based on Kabat-Zinn's _Full Catastrophe Living_! Glad to hear my blogger friends have some experience with this. MJ, I might actually have to get off my lazy butt and read blogs more often! xo

Mary Carol said...

I would like to explore this idea of mindfulness. I haven't checked into yoga ideas where I live, but that calm time still makes me want to try a class again! (For that fact alone, I should explore the brainstorm you recently suggested I consider, my daughter.)

Michael Cowden said...

Thanks for the suggestion of John Kabat-Zinn. I've been trying for several years (off and on) to get serious about meditation. Something about his style really resonated with me... I'm going to buy the book today. Here's a great video I found on youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3nwwKbM_vJc

@migrainemike

meganconser said...

I just found your blog- I am excited to read all of it! I too am a headache/migraine/chronic pain sufferer-- I started up my own blog just for my headaches- seems like a good outlet and maybe I can help support someone else. Anyway- I subscribed to your site and look forward to getting to know you better.

http://momhasaheadache.blogspot.com/

Anonymous said...

I am beginning to use MBSR for clients who struggle with stress and their capacity to relax. I am in talks with a number of OB/Gyn groups to offer an MBSR class for their pregnant clients. MBSR has also been used effectively, per a study I recently read, with women who experience hot flashes. Cheers to the support network where MBSR is! My blog is http://brieftherapyworks.blogspot.com/

Anonymous said...

Yes, I started doing mindfulness practice as part of my spiritual practice. I have neurogenic chronic pain and mindfulness practice helps me to be able to distance myself from the pain and obseve it.

samantha said...

Hi,

You are receiving this email based on the value I feel your website and the services you offer from your website holds. As the Chief Editor for Counselor.org I continually strive to find the best resources I feel are relevant to what we offer (FREE information), and make sure these resources are available to my users as well. I would like to commend you for the work you have put into your website and offer you the possibility of being included as a Featured Resource on Counselor.org. Please understand this is done for two reasons: First and Foremost I feel your website would offer an excellent service to my viewing public and would be a great addition to what is commonly considered one of the larger counseling informational databases online. Secondly, I see a ton of value in your website and would be pleased to have some exposure on your website as well. Please understand this offer is not given to many and will not be revisited in the future. I have included our Counseling Network Resources for your review, I can send the code to you at your request. Please reply with your relevant "Link" information and site description, as always I welcome all questions or thoughts, Thank you for the time it has taken to read this.

Visual Example of Counseling Resources:

Counseling Resources: Counselor | Counselor Information | Famous Counselors | Counseling | Disorder | Stress Disorder | Depression | Crisis | Relationship Counseling | Anxiety | Suicide Prevention | Phobia |

Thank you,
Samantha Burner
Editor.
counselor.org

Diana Keough said...

This is great advice on how to deal with migraines, I love your blog! I just created a group/community for migraine sufferers, and would love some input! Keep up the good work!

Hulk Hoogan said...

Any chronic disease can be dangerous if not treated on time this indicates findrxonline in their articles, in many cases the drugs are of great help to counteract the chronic pain, but there are other supplements that science should be regarded as vegetables and vitamin supplements, many consider the medicines are of great help to counteract the pain, especially opioids narcotics such as Vicodin, Lortab, hydrocodone, oxycontin, oxycodone, tramadol, and many others that exist in today's market, but I think we should also consider as an additional alternative to supplement the vitamins such as calcium, B complex, vitamin C, do you think it is a contribution to people with chronic disease?

Linda said...

Hi,
My name is Linda Rose and I am the assistant editor of Infection.org. I am contacting you today in hopes of developing a relationship with your website; we have seen your site and think your content is great. Infection.org is a purely informational site dedicated to the general Public. It provides a focal point on the Internet for Infection information.

I hope you show some interest in building relationship, please contact me at linda.infection.org@gmail.com.

agelessbeautyalways@gmail.com said...

love your blog? what is the pink light you mention? want one!

Porsmouth health said...

You are now talking health reform will be changed soon; we trust that Obama and his staff do what is necessary for the welfare of families. This reform must be appropriate because many families depend on it, the health system a long time that is weak and patients suffering from cancer, chronic fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, Parkinson's, diabetes, chronic pain, chronic anxiety among many other diseases, Need proper medical attention, according to the measure should be findrxonline for 80% of patients with these diseases.

Hulk Hoogan said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Carly said...

Wow.. I like your site and I love your story.. We are the same, I just created a blog to share will all about migraine. Glad to see you in the same boat.

Cheers

Healing Less Traveled said...

I haven't read the books you mentioned, but I'm lucky enough to have a great mindfulness meditation group in my area. I have fibromyalgia, migraines, and some other chronic pain diagnoses attached to my name. I'm at a point where I don't know how I would cope without mindfulness meditation. I'm not always able to do 30 minute sits - it's great when I do - but I also try to make time to "check in" with myself throughout the day. Thanks for posting this, it's a great post!

I realize you posted this awhile ago - are you still practicing mindfulness meditation? I guess I should go look through some of your archives.

themigrainegirl said...

@ageless beauty: I'm not sure what pink light you're referring to! I did have a rose tint cast onto my eyeglasses--any eye care center that sells glasses should be able to do this for you.
@Healing Less Traveled: I haven't been keeping up with the MBSR program as much as I want to. I've taken two courses now, and whenever I go to yoga (which is about 70% of the time due to my travel schedule), we do a little mindfulness/relaxation exercise. It's one of those things: I KNOW it will help, but because I don't always get instantaneous results, I skip it when I need it most.

My blog has moved!

You should be automatically redirected in 6 seconds. If not, visit
http://migraine.com/author/the-migraine-girl/
and update your bookmarks.