Dr. Kabat-Zinn has made significant contributions to the field of CAM by teaching and conducting research in the use of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), was developed at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center. MBSR is different from other forms of meditation in that it is a clinically standardized practice, based on ancient healing practices. Patients are encouraged to develop a specialized type of attention consisting of nonjudgmental awareness, openness, curiosity, and acceptance of their internal states. MBSR includes a combination of 3 different techniques (Chiesa & Serretti, 2009). The first technique, body scan, involves focusing attention through the entire body from feet to head and on any sensation or feeling in the body. The body scan involves non-judgment of the sensations and use of breath awareness and relaxation as the patient continues their scan. The second technique involves a sitting mediation. During this meditation the patient pays attention to their breathing, rising and falling of their abdomen and any other sensations that flow through the mind. The final step involves Hatha yoga practice, including breathing exercises, simple stretches, and posture, all designed to strengthen and relax the body. Increased awareness can enable patients to use internal resources to manage stress, emotions pain management and improved immune function. MBSR practices consist of eight to ten weeks of guided practices. Patients start with 2.5 hours weekly classes along with a single all-day class to learn meditation skills, as well as homework to reinforce newly learned skills.
Meditation is practiced by healthy individuals. The standardization of MBSR as a clinical practice has enabled researchers to study this intervention in multiple settings. Grossman, Niemann, Schmidt, and Walach (2004) studied the effectiveness of MBSR by reviewing outcomes of twenty studies and concluded that MBSR can assist individuals to cope with multiple medical and psychosocial problems. In healthy individuals MBSR has been effective in helping reduce stress, ruminative thinking, trait anxiety, increased empathy and self-compassion (Chiesa & Serretti). Ledesma and Kumano (2009) conducted a meta-analysis of the effects of (MBSR) on the mental and physical health status of patients with different forms of cancer. They identified ten studies demonstrating a significant effect size in helping improve psychosocial adjustment.
Chiesa, A., & Serretti, A. (2009). Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction for Stress Management in Healthy People: A Review and Meta-Analysis. Journal of Alternative & Complementary Medicine, 15(5), 593-600.
Ledesma, D., & Kumano, H. (2009). Mindfulness-based stress reduction and cancer: a meta-analysis. Psycho-Oncology, 18(6), 571-579. doi:10.1002/pon.1400
Grossman, P., Niemann, L., Schmidt, S., & Walach, H. (2004). Mindfulness-based stress reduction and health benefits: A meta-analysis. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 57(1), 35-43. doi:10.1016/S0022-3999(03)00573-7