Health and Wellness

Hope, Healing and WellBeing

Mary Treacy O'Keefe

Hope, Healing and WellBeing – Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction with Gayle Wilson

Gayle Wilson completed the Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction teacher training, developed by Dr. Jon Kabot-Zinn at UMassMedical School. She has been teaching MBSR for 4 years now in the Sacramento region of California. She has also taught both yoga and meditation through the Portland Community College system in Oregon.

She describes “mindfulness” as a way of being or “non-doing.” Mindfulness is being in the present moment without the filters of judgment. The goal is to learn how to Respond to rather than React when we are caught up in stress reactivity. Until we begin to recognize what we are doing to ourselves, we will continue to react with our ‘habitual patterns of behavior’ that can harm ourselves and others. When we are caught up in constantly “thinking about the future (planning, worrying) or thoughts of the past (memories)”, we can slip into a mind-state of being on autopilot rather than being in the present moment.

Gayle says meditation is looking deeply into the “chatter of the mind”. We begin to learn about some of our “habitual patterns of thinking ” that no longer serve us well. For example, a pattern may be “negative self-talk” that can spiral us down into depression. In the MBSR program the participants begin to notice when they are caught up in negative self talk or a habitual pattern of thinking and can then choose to Respond by bringing awareness to what is happening in the present moment. We can retrain our minds to give more attention to the pleasant, more joyful moments in life thereby strengthening the neural pathways in the left frontal lobe of the brain. This concept is called Neuroplasticity. MBSR can help to disentangle our minds from ruminative thoughts, repetitive destructive emotions and impulsive and addictive behaviors.

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