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Program Description

A typical program will start with learning specific mindfulness practices that cultivate self-acceptance, peace-of-mind and practical insight into how your mind functions when it is on “automatic pilot”.  Practicing daily cultivates a foundation for learning how to relate to difficult thoughts, feelings, and life situations with greater common sense and compassion.  Most practices are guided by a CD or audiotape and are generally quite relaxing and self-nurturing.   Through the meditative practices one will also learn how to find release from habitual thinking patterns that inhibit vitality and prevent the experiencing of a degree of natural joy and pleasure in everyday experiences.

During the third and fourth weeks of the program a key distinction is made between “primary” and “secondary” suffering.  Primary suffering is the inevitable pain that occurs over the course of a human lifetime. Secondary suffering comes from stressful and depressing thoughts we tell ourselves about the primary suffering and the situation that gave rise to the suffering.  Secondary suffering also arises from inner resistance to feeling the reality of primary suffering.  With the foundation learned in the mindfulness training, participants experiment with releasing themselves from perpetuating secondary suffering.

Starting in the fifth week of the program, MBST brings in the use of meditative inquiry to foster a deep understanding of how cause and effect operates in the world of one’s own thoughts, feelings, and actions.   This inquiry is a powerful tool that can help dispel beliefs that foster defensiveness, anxiety, bitterness and depression.  Meditative inquiry used in this program also functions to reveal potent inner resources of confidence, resilience and love that were not previously accessible.

As the program progresses, participants are invited to realize that they can have their thoughts and feelings without being controlled by them; and that there is integrated source of wisdom or inner common sense that can be holistically comprehended from within.  

Part of the reason MBST gets results is that it involves dedicated training.  There’s a recommended 30-40 minutes of home practice daily during the course of the program.

The following practices are taught as part of the MBST program:
  • Body Scan meditation.  Cultivates relaxation, mindfulness, self- acceptance, body awareness, self-nurturing, and more. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine the body scan also supports the flow of qi (a vital energy believed to run through the body that fosters health and well-being).

  • Mindfulness Practice with ordinary daily experiences such as washing dishes, walking in nature, preparing dinner, even lovemaking.   Cultivates relaxation, mindfulness, self-acceptance, body awareness, self-nurturing, supports flow of qi according to Traditional Chinese Medicine, and more.

  • Sitting Meditation. Cultivates relaxation, mindfulness, self-acceptance, body awareness, self-nurturing, and more.  Sitting meditation is an especially potent tool for developing the habit of noticing ruminative thought, as well as developing the key skill of releasing oneself from a train of ruminative thinking.
  • “Massaging Breath™” for relaxation, self-nurturing, self-acceptance and mindfulness.

  • Acceptance/Receptive Attention.  A strategy of just receiving one’s thoughts and feelings in awareness, rather than trying to eliminate or manipulate “unwanted” inner states.

  • Identification of Primary and Secondary Suffering.  Attention to how resistance to primary suffering and ruminative thinking fuels secondary suffering.

  • Meditative Inquiry (as developed by Byron Katie).  A transformative investigation into the effects of believing distressing thoughts.  This inquiry is an inward-looking investigation, not an “intellectualized” process.  Mindfully, deeply and precisely seeing into the effects of distressing thinking can enable the release of suffering and habitual patterns of thought and action that perpetuate suffering.  This inquiry also functions to awaken latent capacities for clarity of mind and effective action.

  • Mindful Movement and/or Mindful Yoga.  Cultivates all skills learned in the practices above.  Especially effective at cultivating relaxation, and from the perspective of Traditional Chinese Medicine, at improving the flow of “Qi”.  Meditative movement and Yoga practices taught in this program are taught as mindfulness practices with explicit continual guidance given towards cultivating receptive present-moment awareness.  This is a very different experience than what is offered in normal American yoga and movement studios.

  • Listening for “essence” – an aspect of mind that is deeper than the intellect and emotions.  Participants are invited to see that they are the self that is the awareness in which thoughts and feelings arise and pass away.  Inner listening – with awareness – is viewed as an approach to discovering “common sense” insights and solutions.  It is also seen as a way to find a sense of inner stability and fidelity towards one’s true values in the midst of emotionally reactive thoughts and feelings.

  • Making common-sense behavioral changes.  Participants are encouraged to look at their activities, see what is truly congruent with their value system, and make changes as appropriate.  This includes actions that directly impact well-being, such as habits around diet, interpersonal communication, exercise, recreation and work/career.

Copyright © 2006 Ken Farber. All rights reserved.