Mindfulness program reduces anxiety, pain, depression
By Jerelyn Craden, Special to the Times
Published April 20, 2017
Ellen King knows that a 10-week course called Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) works. She took it 17 years ago when she was diagnosed with MS and hasn’t had an attack since. It also helped her through the stress, anxiety and discomfort of breast cancer. That’s why on May 9 to July 11, King, a retired registered social worker and active private counsellor, therapist and teacher is thrilled to be teaching MBSR, for her 10th year, in Haliburton County.
“I’m not just teaching this. I know what it does,” King said. “Six months after I took the MBSR course, my MS specialist couldn’t understand why I was doing so well. All my symptoms were significantly reduced. Then, seven years later when I was diagnosed with breast cancer, it was mindfulness that kept me going through a severe allergic reaction to the chemo I was taking, plus other drugs to combat its side effects. It kept me from being drawn into a pit of despair.”
Developed at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center in the 1970s by Professor Jon Kabat-Zinn, MBSR uses a combination of mindfulness meditation, body awareness, and yoga to help participants become more mindful.
“When you’re mindful, instead of your mind running you,” King said, “you have a greater perspective on negative thoughts and can choose a response instead of automatically reacting. It prevents you from being self-critical, ruminating about the past, and worrying about the future.”
Today close to 80 per cent of medical schools offer some element of mindfulness training and research and education centres dedicated to mindfulness.
“People don’t realize how harmful stress is to their body,” King said. “When we feel stress, fear, or anxiety, our cortisol (fight, flight, or freeze) levels are activated. When cortisol levels remain high it can cause inflammation which can lead to disease. MBSR teaches us how to be in the moment without judgment. It gives you more control over your mind and body.”
“I’ve seen such a huge change in myself and how I deal with emotions, relationships and stress. And, I love seeing others benefit from mindfulness … decreasing pain, lowering blood pressure, and keeping anxiety and stress at bay. It also helps people who have busy minds be more present and peaceful.”
One man who took King’s course was struggling with chronic pain, PTSD and depression sent her a note: “I have watched the skeptics at the beginning of the course turn into happier people with each class. I was one of them in the very first class, but now am reducing meds, and my wife is so pleased with the progress in our lives.”
King added that new research shows that self-compassion is a significant part of health and resilience to disease. ”When that becomes part of the way we are in life, it has a positive effect on others … and ultimately on the world.”
Price for King’s 10-week MBSR course is $185 including printed materials. To reserve your place or for more information visit www.ellenkingsourcehealing.com or phone Ellen King at 705-286-2489.